Jun 09, 2007
After years of living in Dahab, I'm finally leaving. There are tearful goodbyes as I walk with my backpack out to get a taxi to the bus station.
I arrive at the station just before the bus is supposed to leave, but there is no bus. And there is no bus, and there is no bus, and there is no bus. I've been sitting there for 3 hours waiting for the bus to arrive, and every hour I ask the guy selling the tickets if the bus is coming. He always tells me the same thing, "bus in 5 minutes". It's a very Egyptian 5 minutes!
I'm now thinking about heading back to my hotel. It's a bit of a joke. For the past year, I've been telling people that I'm leaving very soon and haven't quite managed to do it. Now, that I'm really almost leaving, will I fail again?
After another half hour, the bus finally shows up.
My last stop in Egypt is Nuweiba, a small beach town a few hours north of Dahab. It's allegedly a lovely place, and it's also where the ferry departs to Jordan.
After I arrive in Nuweiba, I walk towards Tarabin, the beach area with cheap backpacker hotels. The first hotel I come to is the Soft Beach Hotel with a bunch of huts scattered in the tan sand. It looks like a lovely relaxing place. And the rooms are only a couple of dollars, so I check in. I waited almost 4 hours for the bus to arrive, so now it's late.
In the morning, I go for a walk to see the rest of the beach. I quickly learn that my hotel is separated from all of the other hotels due to an ownership dispute over the sand dune next to my hotel. This dispute has prevented any construction on that piece of land, and it's the only thing, which keeps Soft Beach isolated and beautiful. The rest of the town is simply depressing. It's a squalid ghost town. The hotels are all packed together into a tourist ghetto on the beach, which isn't particularly nice to start with. On top of that, this beach used to be popular with crowds of Israeli tourists. After the 2nd Intifada, they stopped coming here. So, now there are bars and restaurants set up for 1000 tourists, with only about a total of 5 of in town. Many of the restaurants are covered in varying amounts of dust. Some places are obviously closed, falling to pieces, and fading away
In addition to the lovely, isolated beach at Soft Beach, I found one other highlight in town. There is a pink pelican as a pet at the El Sabaey Hotel. Her name is "Sameera". Though, maybe "pet" is perhaps the wrong word. She seems to run the place. Apparently, she was injured, cannot fly, and was taken in 10 years ago. Now, the entire hotel is decorated with pelican sculptures and pelican paintings everywhere. It's a bizarre and cool place.
Soft Beach certainly seemed like the best place to stay, though there was unfortunately a little bit of hassle with them pressuring me to eat at their restaurant. I'd actually avoid the restaurant like the plague - friends ordered the fish, and it came out horribly undercooked. How could a beach hotel, so badly fuck up grilling a fish?? You think that fish is the one thing they'd really know! Two doors down, Blue Bus Hotel, does indeed make a lovely fish.
All of the food on the beach was slightly pricey, so I'd walk into town in the evenings for sandwiches for dinner and to use the internet. Both of these things are conveniently next to one another on a side street behind the Dr. Shish Kebab restaurant.
On these walks, "Sweety", my self-appointed pet dog would walk with me. The walk was one mile along the beach. Sweety would chase crabs the entire time. It was lovely having a dog as companion on these walks, but in retrospect I think that she was just following me in hopes of getting food.
Two days of relaxation was perfect - though I could have easily stayed for longer. Wherever I am, I can always stay for longer - that's my problem as a traveler now.
Next stop - the ruins of Petra in Jordan.
Leave a comment! I'm much more inspired to write when I know people are reading.
I'm living in Nuweiba, in a small bedouin village called El Muzzeina. Your description sounds very familiar to me.
I started a project for sustainable development a place called " Ghannah Lodge", you should come to visit us. It's only 10 minutes away from the port in Nuweiba where the boat can bring you to Aqaba. It's a very beautifull lodge alongside the sea in a small oasis. It's certainly different from Tarabin. Here everything is authenthic and real. We try to conserve the authentic Bedouin traditions and the style of life but we keep everything clean and the food is delicious!
However, that strange feeling you can get there is so difficult to explain but almost everybody who experienced it whant to experience it again.
Sinai and especially Nuweiba give you that incredible strange and powerfull feeling " to be home".
David - Feb 05, 2008
I spent a year in Israel in 1980-81 when Nuweiba was called Neviot and in Israeli occupied Sinai. We used to spend every weekend there and it sure has grown. Used to be pretty much just the beach and a dive shop, you camped where you felt like. There was a bedouin boy named Idi Ali who used to visit us with his camel regularly and I've always wondered what became of him.
Tony - Feb 05, 2008
I was there in 1980 - 1982. There was a restroom and small kiosk on the north end of the beach. It was a beautiful place back then. We had the whole beach to ourselves.