After Cairo we were supposed to head to Mt. Saint Catherines and then on to the Red Sea. However, since there had been some tourist kidnappings in that region we were not allowed to go there. In fact we had to take a massive detour that added almost six hours onto our journey across the peninsula. We had a lot of quality time in vans in Egypt.
Crossing the mountain range was a bit surprising for me. When I think of mountains I think of the Rockies. Snow on top, vegetation of some sort, trees, that sort of thing. These mountains are red first of all, and they lack any real plant life. They're very barren! The rock is the prominent feature. They're also very small. They're short mountains. That isn't to say they weren't gorgeous, they just don't conform to my normal vision of a mountain. Red red rock that is quite stunning in the setting sun.
When we reached the coast we drove south along it for a while. What we saw here had me worried about what our "resort" was going to be. We passed miles and miles of empty abandoned hotels and resorts. Some of
these abandoned resorts were just shacks on the beach while others were monsterous chain style hotels. The one thing they had in common was that they were deserted. Even traffic on the road was virtually non-existant. It was like driving through a ghost town. Some of the hotels were abandoned in various phases of construction or renovation. Huge concrete structures still lacking walls loomed out of the beach only to house the hungry sea gulls. The revolution has hit the economy hard and this was the biggest visual example we had come across. Its hard to imagine the thousands of people who worked in these hotels and resorts now without jobs. What is an economy so dependant on tourism going to do now that the industry has practically collapsed? How will the people adapt and survive? I know that tourism will return. The history of Egypt and its unique geography will bring people back when they feel safe again, but what will happen in the meantime? It is going to be a struggle for these people, and I hope that their new government can get itself organized enough to help them. I don't see that as a likely scenerio though. Their solutions include randomly shutting off power to entire city blocks to save on electricity...only so they can send it elsewhere. Or closing down gas stations so they can send fuel to Libya while the Egyptian people wait in lines 100 cars deep for days just to get gas. You would think there was a massive fuel shortage in Egypt when you see these lines and all of the gas stations just sitting there abandoned, when really the government is just sending the fuel to its allies. I suspect actions like this will lead to another revolution, or at least to more demonstrations against the government.
Change. Its not easy and its not fast.
Its impossible to travel in Egypt and not get swept up in the politics and the drama thats unfolding, but the owner of Nakhil Inn did a good job of making us forget where we were. It is a little bubble of paradise. We spent two nights here, and obviously had the beach to ourselves. We relaxed, snorkelled, suntanned and watched documentaries on ocean conservation. The owner is quite passionate about the environment...which is not typical in Egypt. He is also passionate about his little hotel. It was the only place open for miles and he is determined to tough it out until the end. If you are travelling near sharm el sheik, seek out his Inn. Its only a few miles away from the city and its cozy and beautiful. I could have stayed here a week. The disadvantage of tours, you are locked into the itinerary! Sigh. Always onwards.
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