This last week we all headed to Sharm As-Sheikh, the famous resort town, for a few days of vacation from classes.  I had heard stories of how this town was built around tourists and how it is quite different from other areas of Egypt, but all of those stories were gross understatements to the reality of this place.  Sharm As-Sheikh is the Las Vegas of Egypt, and quite possibly of the Middle East.  There were no restrictions on clothing there, and I saw almost more Russians than Arabs wandering the streets, buying trinkets with inflated prices.  The staff at any restaurant, café, hotel, or shop spoke English fairly fluently, and a few even spoke Russian.  I truly forgot I was in Egypt for a few days.

A little surprise from the cleaning staff at the hotel

The degree of westernization was astounding, to say the least.  On the 4th of July, a group of us all went to a club and begged the DJ to play American songs, as we were the only people there.  He finally agreed and we danced until 2am to songs we all knew.  It was an unforgettable moment in time, on the open balcony of the club, the lights of such a tourist town twinkling around us and the gentle waves of the sea in the near distance.

Early 4th of July party in Alexandria the day before we left for Sharm

We all had to fight in order to speak Arabic with most of the people there, especially our guide when we took a boat out to the beautiful coral reefs of the Red Sea.  Our guide confessed that our group was the first to which he could give instructions all in Arabic in the 14 years he had lived in Sharm As-Sheikh.

On the Red Sea

Out on the Red Sea, I was blown away by the crystal clear blue waters, only a thin veil to the picture underneath the waves.  I went snorkeling for the first time, and I hope never to forget what I saw, the silent world of fish and sea creatures pulsing with life.  There was no sound, but the waters were tense with energy, even the plants and coral seemed to breathe in their bright colors, flowing with the soft current curling around their edges.  Even the schools of fish all seemed to have such purpose, such importance.  I only wish I had an underwater camera.

The coral reefs, from the boat

Showing a little Egyptian pride

The color changes where you can see the solid coral reefs

By the end of the four days we spent there, I was ready to return to Alex.  Despite the luxury of the experience as a whole, I was ready to leave a place that felt so manufactured, so fake.  The thought that wouldn’t leave my head was that some people come to a place like this, and they have no concept of what the rest of Egypt, the real Egypt, is like.  Perhaps they think that Egypt is that tolerant to loud tourists, or bars, or bikinis on the beach.  They would be shocked and most likely disturbed by the reality.  I, however, prefer the real Egypt, despite its flaws.  Outside of Sharm As-Sheikh, Egypt does not seem so stifled, so perfect. It has the feel of a bustling, crazy city, a nugget of the real world in a very populated area.  Just like the my view underneath the Red Sea, Egypt seems to flow with a type of current, tense with energy, filled with purpose, ideas, feelings, opinions.

On the boat with friends


2 Responses to “Egypt and Its Las Vegas”

  1. Terrie on July 9th, 2012 3:18 pm

    Genny, beautiful job at bringing us to your viewpoint. I have taken a trip to see what you are seeing through your eyes into my heart. I am blessed to hear your adventures and pleased to hear the depth of what you have learned internally. I love you more then I could ever describe in my words and I am utterly blown away at your growth as an amazing young woman. Thanks for letting me share in your adventure and keep your blogs coming.
    My heart and prayers are yours,
    Your Other Mother <3

  2. Yonathan on July 9th, 2012 6:17 pm

    Did you get a yellow wristband? 😉

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