We were a motley crew the twelve of us who headed to Dahab for the weekend. Irish, English, quite a few French, Egyptian and the odd Canadian. We were meant to go by the Taba road but due to the political climate sailing along the Israeli border was not recommended for some reason, not by anyone really, certainly not by the French embassy, I don’t know about the other embassies as with our typical “ach sure we’ll be fine attitude” we didn’t bother to check, and off we set.
Mo (short for Mohamed for some reason) and the Egyptian delegation set off first, say what you like about Egyptian timekeeping but when there is a holiday ahead they get off the mark fairly sharpish. We were traveling in convoy with the French which explains why we were last to leave……..they are worse than Egyptians at timekeeping but….. lucky for us. We got a phone call about the Suez Canal tunnel from Mo to say don’t come the Taba road there are hijackings at the minute. They had picked up some poor guy completely stripped of his belongings including the car and shoes, yes they left him barefoot, but with typical egyptian hospitality they picked him up, chatted away, probably got his phone number and kindly deposited him at the next checkpoint.
So we changed our route and headed down the west coast of the Sinai peninsula and thought we would cut across the mountains on the St Catherine’s Monastery road……..bad call, very very bad call. The French were in a Hyundai something or other (crap cars even with the 70year warranty or whatever…..) BUT had we a TV crew on standby the footage could have been used for the next Hyundai commercial. It was pitch black although there were a few cats eyes kindly sunk into the asphalt, but being Egypt a significant number had been fitted back to front so not a lot of use.
I won’t give names to protect the guilty but suffice to say 140 kph was the going rate and even at the end of the journey taking into account the stoppages at the checkpoints our average speed for the journey was 120 kph. For those of you unfamiliar with the road it rises to over 1300 meters above sea level and back down on the other side, with very tight corners all the way, pretty hair-raising. Never mind the panic attacks (or maybe that hot flush is down to my age…no couldn’t be I’m only a young thing) and the screaming from the rear passengers, we did it in no time, but we were in a Toyota 4×4 which is Definitely not designed for cornering at that speed, again I come back to “Top Gear in Egypt” the possibilities are endless, bring on the “STIG”
Speaking of the check points, our Irish passports were a blessing. The French in front of us got stopped every time, answering numerous questions and opening the boot, even when they switched their driver (or maybe because of it) to a very pretty young French lady it didn’t speed up the process. We sailed through with the very culturally aware border police shaking my hand saying “ahhhh the republican army” fortunately The hubby (who is not a big fan of the republican army, bar Martin Mc Guinness…that’s another story) wasn’t driving at the time, it could all have gone pear shaped pretty quickly.
We landed in Dahab about midnight, just in time for dinner if you are on the French time clock and whiled away a very pleasant hour or three before bed. Handy hint here… take note all expats get your Egyptian friends to book the hotel, even with your residency permits you won’t get the rates they do 150le per night ( just over 15 quid) per room…yes per room NOT per person, including breakfast, excellent….you couldn’t beat it with a big stick, and right on the beach too.
Some of us went diving, and for my son who was doing it for the first time it was pretty amazing, his girlfriend had dived before in south Africa but they were both blown away with what they saw, I don’t know the names as I’m rubbish at that sort of stuff but there was lots of everything. Octopus, multicolored rainbow fish or parrot fish, I don’t know, big eels and those really ugly creepy looking ones too. I really should check out the correct names as I’m not doing it justice, just go and see for yourself.
I think the highlight of the weekend was realizing I’m getting old, and feeling good about it. The hubby (Pete) and I were the oldest by about 15 years so we didn’t go clubbing, we very sensibly headed home and left the youngsters to it. We were fresh as a daisy the next morning for the Rugby world cup at 8am. The French contingent sweated it out as Japan gave them a run for their money much to our enjoyment, they weren’t fit for the slagging after their clubbing escapades, and the English did their usual and scrapped through too, (they are the Man Utd of rugby) not very impressive but they always get there in the end. Fortunately we were home in time for the Irish game and they didn’t get the chance to get their own back.