Tuesday, October 5, 2010
This part of Egypt is peaceful in such a way that you feel instantly still the moment you’re submerged in her warm rich air. Especially in the middle of the night. The man who greeted us in arrivals was Bedouin. I greeted him with ‘Salaam’ rather than a Westerner’s ‘Hi’ :). He bowed his head, gently thumping his chest twice in respect, and what I now suspect to be sincere gratitude. I’m fairly certain that we didn’t make eye contact again afterwards. He drove us the hour (or so) trip through miles of what look like dark silhouetted quarries, back to Dahab, and my full memory of our last visit returned. It was dark, in its own way this may be a beautiful place (to me it feels as if all the life and colour were washed into the Red Sea as these mounds of rock are pretty barren), so memory came through my other senses this morning. The smell and feel of the air, and then the sounds... it isn’t ever noisy, certainly not at 4am but it is never completely silent here either. To help you to imagine, it reminds me of the opening moments in a film called ‘The English Patient’. There is a collage that includes the most beautifully sung voice against suggestions of bells, movements, memories. I’m always reminded of the mood of that sequence when I travel here; that mystery, suggestions of another world I know is beyond my own life. So we sat in the car as we had done during Ramadan the year before, listening again to the sung prayers mixed with layers of static and talk, not bothering to compete for attention. And with this opening soundtrack we passed slowly through several poorly lit dissinterested checkponts and between the craggy silouettes, and finally arrived at the familiar town and cheap divers hotel that will become our home. Now, after roughly 4 hours of sleep I’ve watched the 9am diving group load tanks for their underwater safari, and imagine that we never actually left this enchanting place at all.