Thursday, January 10, 2008

On the Red Sea

I couldn't switch my ticket, so flew to the Sinai as originally planned early this morning. Landed in Sharm just after dawn, and took an over-priced cab up the coast to Dahab, a "hippy enclave" on the Red Sea. It was a bumpy flight, the kind with lots of screaming passengers.

It's cloudy, cold, and windy - so I won't be going into the water any time soon. And without that there doesn't seem to be much else to do here. Or rather, much else that interests me. I already walked the coast top to bottom, and I'm already bored to tears.

Not that it's a bad place. Aside from the divers and families there are a lot of young kids on their round-the-world party tour. The locals have all adopted a pseudo-surfer "Hello My Brother" veneer of I'm Your Best Friend. The coast is pedestrian only, and every inch is lined with cafes and clubs. Tonight I could choose from Old Skool Night, Pulp Fiction Party Night (your favorite hits of the 50's and 60's!), and a half dozen places offering Awesome Fun with various British DJ's.

Bored to fucking tears, I tell you. I'll probably end up joining some desert trek tour for the next few days, as I don't know what else to do, and there's nothing here to do on your own. If I were still 24, or a cold-water diver, or here with a lover, or content to get high and sit on my ass all day, this place would be really cool. For the solo and restless? Not. Cool. At. All.

At least I made the most of my last day in Luxor. Walked to the tombs of the artisans that were found behind the old worker's village. These were the people who built the temples and monuments for the pharaohs. They weren't allowed to use royal iconography, and so the tombs were painted in a more free-form, easy to understand style. There were lots of scenes of families at play and at work in the fields. Even the gods were more homely - Isis in the form of a tree, Anubis holding hands with the departed to lead them into the afterlife, and ferocious cat-bunnies chopping up snakes with their swords (I couldn't tell if they were bunnies with fangs or cats with very long ears). Even after three thousand years the images were vivid and strangely familiar (except for the cat-bunny).

In the afternoon I met up with Vicky, the Aussie town planner, and we went to the Valley of the Kings. These tombs were more awesome, and more formal. Entire caverns were covered with the texts from the Various Books - the Book of the Hours, which describes the descent into the subconscious), the Book of the Cavern, the Book of Day, the Book of Night. Afterwards we hiked up over the mountains, coming down above Hatshepsut's massive temple in the back of a natural ampitheater.

That night I mostly listened as the village's resident ecentrics exchanged stories. There were a handful of artists, a scattering of amateur Egyptologists who return year after year, some professors, and some archaeologists waiting for their digs to start. They were awesome company.

So - Egypt so far: Hated Cairo, Aswan was an interesting interlude, Luxor was beyond incredible, and so far Dahab looks tiring. Usually I don't want to return after a vacation, I just want to keep on moving and see where the road takes me. This might be the first time where I'm really just ready to go home. Realistically, my perfect track record of awesome trips had to end at some point. I know this, so I'm not that disappointed or bummed.

This should cure my travel lust for a bit, at least. Maybe I'll actually save some money now.

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