Saturday, February 10, 2007

Days 10 and 11. Nuweiba

This is what awaited us at the end of Day 10 ! We had two days to do nothing, absolutely nothing but R-E-L-A-X and we couldn't get there soon enough!!



From St. Catherine's, we had to double back to go to Nuweiba.



By now, I had gotten used to seeing the desert landscape and all the flora and fauna that go with it but what I wasn't prepared for was the sight of a bicycle race through the desert. Who rides through the desert?? Are these guys nuts?? It started when we spotted one lonely cyclist - thought he was crazy but it turned out he was probably the leader. Then came a convoy of cyclists - a blur of colored jerseys and helmets. We had to pull over to the shoulder to let all the bicyclists go by and we did not resume travel until the last racer passed us by.



Then, we caught a glimpse of it.....the Red Sea and in the background, the mountains of Saudi Arabia.



As soon as we arrived at the Sawa Beach Camp, Daniel worked on getting us our rooms. In the meantime, the rest of us headed towards the water, dying to dip into it.

The water of the Red Sea is beautiful shades of blue and green and is crystal clear. The sand is powder white.



Okay, I admit it. I'm not exactly a sight for sore eyes. Hiking clothes, hiking sandals and a left arm encased in a cast are not exactly what you would call "swim wear".


Lei finally shed her million layers of clothing and reveled in the moment!


My hut on the left, camp lounge on the right. Mountains of Sinai in the background.


My bed with mosquito net.


The view of the Red Sea from my hut. I have a "beachfront" room!


Eventually, everyone found their spot in the sun and started chillin'.

Alex on the left and Dora on the right.

I finally found something I could use as a scratch stick and relieve my left arm of the itchies that had begun to bother me! Nirvana at last!



As the sun set, the mountains of Saudi Arabia became more visible.

Daniel and Daniel decided to go for a swim. It was low tide so they were still only in water barely up to their calves as they approached the coral reefs that the Red Sea is known for.


....and the lights were turned on in the lounge.



We would have our dinner sitting in the sunken lounges that make up the seating area in the lounge. Afterwards, the group got started playing a rousing game of Kings and Asses. Dora won game after game and earned the title of Queen Dora which she would own on matches on following days. Let's just face it. It was a combination of luck and the fact that she's just a damn good card player. Poor Lei, on the other hand, had no luck. Bad hand, one after another.... even when she dealt the cards. Note to self. Don't go to Vegas with Lei :-)

In another corner, several people were shooting pool.

Daniel's iPod provided the music - a very eclectic collection of sounds - from the Black Eyed Peas, to the Eagles, to Guns 'n Roses and Bon Jovi. Thanks to Daniel, we also got addicted to Nancy Ajram, a Lebanese pop singer whose infectious songs we listened to as we rode in the van. She sings in Arabic so I have no idea what the words to her songs are but the tune is catchy. Check out her video on YouTube.

The sun saps your energy so by 10pm or so I was ready to hit the sack. I had a wonderful night's sleep - looking at the stars in the sky and listening to the lapping waves.

Next morning, Lei, Alex and I decided to go for a walk along the beach.



The only footprints in the sand were ours and we passed one resort after another...., all empty and in a way, sadly so. Tourism at Red Sea resorts has plummeted as a result of several terrorist bomb attacks in recent years - the most recent event happened in Sharm al Sheikh (south of Nuweiba) and took the lives of 88 people. The attacks have scared away the tourists so the resorts are vacant with very rare exception.



After breakfast, we got down to the serious task of unwinding from 9 days of touring. Visiting ancient temples and gorging on food can sure take its toll on you :-)

Lei reserved her spot and borrowed Alex's book (from an author writing on a very naughty subject) to read. She also forgot to put the sunscreen on her legs. Oh oh.



I finally got out of my hiking clothes, into my swimsuit, and into the Red Sea for a quick dip. Lei wrapped my cast in a plastic bag to keep it dry. Well, at least that was the idea :-)

The water was cold at first but then as I got used to it, it was really refreshing. I found myself going for several dips during the day.

On land, I kept my trusty scratch stick by my side. In fact, I brought the stick home with me. It broke into two pieces somewhere along the way but never mind, I've kept both halves as a souvenir of my trip.



By early afternoon, the sun was beginning to wear on us. Even Daniel was suffering from overexposure and felt the need to cover up.



I headed up to the lounge and spent my time reading in the shade.

That night, we watched the sunset sitting around a bonfire. Dinner was a traditional Bedouin meal served on tables set out on the beach. Very tasty as all our traditional meals had been - much better than anything you could get at a tourist hotspot.

Afterwards, we entertained ourselves as we had done the night before.

....and when I slept that night, I once again fell asleep to the sight of the stars overhead and sound of the waves gently lapping in the distance. It was the perfect ending to a wonderful day in paradise!

Here are Lei's memories of her two days in Nuweiba.