There's nothing like sitting on cushions in the middle of the desert, drinking tea with the Bedouin...right next to a popular diving spot on the Red Sea.
I needed to get out of the crazy city of Cairo for a few days, to a quieter place with fresh air. So I didn't complain when my good friends Jim and Erin Hagengruber (my first Cairo visitors) arrived and swept me away to the Red Sea Coast with them.
We took an eight-hour bus ride to Dahab, through numerous police checkpoints (Dahab was bombed just a couple of years ago) and found ourselves in the midst of the tourist hustle as soon as we got off the bus. But, the sunshine and smell of the ocean cheered me up.
A Dahab taxi took us to the coast where we searched for a cheap place to stay. Dahab is a hustle. Every hotel has a free "welcome drink". Every restaurant has a guy out front to lure in the tourists with a great dinner special. However, it is much more relaxed than Cairo.
The Sinai Bedouin tribes have roamed the peninsula for generations, raising camels and goats. In the past few decades, many have settled and found work in construction or tourism. These kids were selling camel rides to tourists.
Me being a dork (part 1) shortly before I took a short scuba dive with my instructor Ahmed. A mere 20 minutes later, Ahmed had to coax me to leave the safety of the shallows for the nearby reef. Underwater drama ensued. (Photo by Jim "Jimmy" Hagengruber)
Me being a dork (part 2) with dive master Ahmed, right after my 30-minute dive at around 10.5 meters. It was amazing! It was kinda like a tandem sky dive only underwater. Ahmed was hanging on to me the whole time adjusting my buoyancy and oxygen. I basically just got to enjoy the ride. The Red Sea reefs are teeming with multi-colored fish, coral and jellyfish (ouch).
The ever-present sheesha pipe: smoke it next to the ocean to reap heightened positive effects.
Jim and Erin at sunset.