Yesterday we spent most of the day on a boat and snorkeling in Ras Mohammed Marine Park. I dare say the snorkeling was maybe the best I’ve experienced. Along with tons of super colorful fish, we saw a little brown ray and my first moray eel!
JIm calls this pic “Newport Kelly”
At the start of the day, the captain gave us a short safety lecture but told us, “If you remember nothing, at least remember the name of the boat.” (foreshadowing!) So for the next few hours, our boat took us to three different places to snorkel. At the last one, they let us sort of go off on our own and told us to be back at the boat in 45 minutes. Jim and I had a fabulous time and saw so many beautiful fish and were able to go at our own speed.
Finally, we poked our heads up and decided that we should probably find our boat since it had been a while. We looked around and saw like 10 boats, but they all looked EXACTLY the same and you couldn’t see the names of them unless they were facing the side. That, along with the fact, that we didn’t remember the name of our boat. We knew it started with a T.
We started to swim towards one then realized it was the wrong one. We started towards another and stopped again. It was very tiring and we gave up. I thought of the movie, Open Water. We then swam to the closest boat with the intention of telling them to radio our boat, the name started with a T! We climbed on and everyone looked at us like we were crazy. Finally our boat putted over and Jim jumped back in the water. I started to slowly lower myself down the metal ladder, facing away from the boat, when my butt slipped off the ladder rung and I crashed down onto the next rung. I heard everyone behind me gasp and Jim later told me it was funny to see everyone’s faces. The boat guy came over to make sure I was ok. I got into the water and then started to mentally moan at how bad it hurt. I had a bruise the next day.
We got on our boat and one of the crew guys kind of yelled at Jim for not remembering the name of the boat. I just hoped they hadn’t been waiting for us long.
That night, at the hotel, we were stressing about what to do next. We found a few people in the hotel sitting at travel desks for different travel companies. We told one of the guys we wanted to go to Petra and stay a few days. He told us about a day trip there and back including flights. We countered saying we wanted to stay a few days and the flight part sounded ok but we could do the rest ourselves. He then said something funny – he’d never heard of anyone doing it on their own and staying a few days. He seemed to think it was a crazy idea. As we walked away, we laughed at how far away this nice resort was from what we were used to. I lamented again at how I hate resorts and how they are so unhelpful when it comes to travel plans. If we were at a hostel, they would have been able to help us with Petra travel plans, no problem.
One nice thing about the fancy resort, however, is that you never have to worry about being able to pay everyone baksheesh (tips) for every little thing. I was thinking that the hotel management must really have to teach the employees that in “western style hotels” it is not acceptable to ask for or expect baksheesh. I feel like that might be a hard thing for Egyptians to understand. But oh, it is a nice feeling to not have to worry about it.
The next morning, today, in Sharm, we dipped into the nice Renaissance pool one last time, showered, packed, then got a cab to the bus station. We had had to call the station many times to finally get someone to answer the phone and tell us the bus times to Nuweiba. The people at the hotel were, not surprisingly, unfamiliar with the local bus times and have given us the wrong information.
At the station, it was like suddenly being back in Egypt and out of the sterile resort world. Jim stood at the ticket counter fighting to get a ticket as 5 other Egyptian men tried to push their way in, waving their hands with money in the ticket window… crazy. Finally he emerged with our bus tickets to Dahab – only 11 pounds for 1.5 hour ride, compared to the 700 pounds the hotel quoted for a limo!!
Representation of how people line up at ticket windows
The bus was pretty dirty and shoddy, but I’ve seen worse. At least it had a little A/C. We watched an episode of Heroes on Jim’s iPod. The scenery was nice, large sandy mountains all around, very desolate. We went through two passport checks and finally arrived in Dahab, a town also on the Red Sea, like Sharm, but much more of a backpacker, hippie vibe, which is good for us. Not that we are hippies, we aren’t. We hate hippies. (note: I actually got hate mail about the fact I said “I hate hippies.” For those of you out there lacking a sense of humor, it is a JOKE. I don’t “hate” anyone.)
We checked into the Ali Baba hotel and it’s fair to say it’s a far cry from the Renaissance, but as long as it’s clean it’s fine with me. The guy at reception, Mohammed (that is a very popular name here), talked to us about getting a taxi for 150 pounds tomorrow to take us to the ferry in Nuweiba and buy the tickets for us (which are 55$ US – very expensive). Hopefully we’ll be doing that tomorrow. If not, we’ll chill in Dahab.
Jim just ate for dinner a full, fresh snapper with calamari for $20. He is happy.