Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Beach Bums

When we planned to move to Cairo, everyone advised us to take frequent breaks from the city. It is a piece of advice we have followed very closely and with some discipline. We have been to the desert, a couple of oases, Upper Egypt and up the delta. It was time for something that wasn't at all cultural or adventurous. It was time to head to the beach.

I had already been to Sharm el Shiekh -- nice but very much a commercial resort town. We wanted something a little more chill. Friends suggested we spend the weekend in Dahab, a small coastal village just an hour's drive from Sharm el Sheikh on the Sinai penninsula. Sitting in the lap of incredible red and brown mountains and facing the dancing blue-green sea, it was breathtaking. Very relaxed and not historic or adventurous from any angle.

As a result, we didn't do much. Our days consisted of sitting on the beach, staring at the Red Sea (I personally could do it for hours), taking naps and pretending to read (I think I got through 5 pages the whole weekend).

The waterfront is dotted with restaurants, sheesha joints and cafes. All of whom don't seem to mind if you sit there all day. Attentive and charming waiters brought us Arabic coffee (masboot for me/ sa'ada for yk) and we drank endless glasses of freshly squeezed fruit juices.

One afternoon, I got ambitious and tried a new combo: guava, banana, strawberry. All that fresh fruit looked irresistable. It was incredibly delicious but impossible to drink! Have you ever tried sucking undiluted fruit puree through a 1/4 inch straw? aiy-ya ya. Another fave was sugar cane juice and lemon. My teeth hurt just thinking about it. And when we weren't trying to drink baby-food through a straw, we were getting our Indian food fix at this little place called Nirvana. And it was. We ate aloo-parahata and saag paneer at every opportunity. Mmmm-mmmm good. Y. even snuck out one morning before I woke up, just to have a masala chai on the beach before we left.

Past lighthouse point, the beach gets a little quieter. European holiday makers are replaced with local families. We saw a group of young kids playing at being fishermen...

In the evening, we hung out at the Shams Hotel lounge where we ate light meals of salad, mezze and grilled fish and enjoyed the groovy tunes played by the brilliant dj and our host, Ahmed. Our biggest challenge was trying not to fall asleep on their comfortable floor cushions. Ahhh. Talk about taking a break from reality. The next day, we would be fighting the filth, pollution and traffic of Cairo. But no need to think about that yet: Bukara, insh'Allah. For now, another chai, min fadluck.

All photos copyright Sufia Lodhi 2008


amreen said...

wow - that sounds like the perfect getaway. it's so great that there are so many fascinating little places around near Cairo where you can escape to. I'm feeling hungry after hearing your descriptions of freshly squeezed juices and saag paneer...

Nabila said...

Suf- i'm serious about april. I'm trying to come for 4-5 days. its going to be bloody hot eh?

try the strawberry and mango combo.

F said...

yay! im so glad u loved dahab!