At the Red Sea, in a black mood
Trip Start Mar 29, 2005
73Trip End Jul 30, 2006
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This morning the sun swallowed whole the sliver of a crescent moon. It was
beautiful, natural, probably as thrilling to me as when the first man
saw the same sight.
A few hours later, I just wanted to sit in the shower and mope.
I had just arrived at a pre-manufactured slice of Western heaven, El
Gouna's Movenpick resort. It's on the Red Sea, but that's about as
original as it gets. Between the rhumba music in the Piazza, and
"Gangster Paradise" playing in the lobby, I was about ready to bash my
Western brains out.
Even the plants (the plants!) need
artificial life support from hoses that snake to-and-fro through the
sand that serves as sod here. I contemplated locking myself in the room
with a book, to read in air-conditioned peace. I missed Cairo, the
noise, the smells, the hubbub - the sheer realness of the place.
El Gouna! No need to speak Arabic here, the staff knows twenty-seven
languages! Most of the guest are English or German. One teutonic yet
bald tourist held the door open for me and I thanked him in German and
felt profoundly Western. And just completely out of place.
I finally dragged my pale body to the beach and into the fabled Red Sea.
It was ripple-chip salty - a tang that I wouldn't usually mind, but
today felt completely too much to handle. I climbed aboard the platform
over the coral reef closest to shore, and watched hand-sized
non-poisonous jellyfish shimmer with the current. My quiet space was
quickly interrupted by a coterie of jolly AUC students -both male and
female of course - enjoying the sun, coral, and each other's bathing
"Oooh, look at the jellyfish!" A girl squealed.
"They're not poisonous," said a tanned dude. "I know, I put one in my mouth."
With that, a diaphanous jellyfish was promptly scooped out of the water, to
lay on the platform not far from me. It reflexively squeezed into a
tight jellymass, locking away the masses - no way to be disturbed by
new things. Safe.
I know that feeling, I thought.
It took hours, and a sumptuous dinner, but I gradually let myself open,
like a jellyfish thrown back into the water. New friends helped, as did
a nice steaming cup of tea. The swimming was nice, too.
I'm back in Cairo now. Back to the pollution and noise. Back home.