Ain El Sokhna

Here are the pictures from the trip we took to a resort on the Red Sea in Ain el Sokhna.  It was nice to relax on the beach, collect shells, and watch sunburned Danes do the chicken dance.

The hotel was kind of intense.

…but all you really need for a good weekend is some sand and a big body of water.

Tourism is not doing as well after the revolution as before.  The resort felt almost deserted except for the 40-odd people who toughed it out: a few Egyptians and some Europeans.  The Egyptian clientele were a very mixed bag.  Some dressed like Westerners with uncovered hair and lots of bare skin, but many of the women still covered up and did not go into the water to swim.  The kids went nuts, though.  I didn’t feel weird wearing a bikini since it was a private beach and there were Germans at the next parasol over in the same kind of clothing.  Nobody stared or made uncomfortable comments, they just relaxed and chatted among themselves.

I occupied myself by staring at the sky between dips (and what a sky!).  The Red Sea was a lot saltier than the Wildwood or Cape May waters, but the surf was calm and very warm.

There were some fantastic shells and corals to collect, too.

In the upper left-hand corner of the picture here, you’ll see the two sand dollars we found.

It was lovely to get a little break from schoolwork, even if it was just a day and a half.  However, I definitely noticed the shift into tourist culture, where waiters would smile and nod when I, as a Westerner, tried to speak Arabic to them–not the best for practice.  I just ended up feeling a little silly.  Still, the food was good and the entertainment was interesting.  There were two very nice shows that represented something a little closer to Egyptian culture, belly dance and Arabic music.  There was also a goofy show for little kids led by very very very tan Danish and Italian hotel employees with dances like the chicken dance and Head Shoulders Knees and Toes, the kind of stuff I associate with smiley people in bright uniforms on cruise ships.  I found myself getting a little queasy thinking about the lives of  these tan tan tan teenage workers who tell the same jokes and dance the same dances every single night, something I could not stomach for a long period of time. For some it might be ideal–sandy beaches, daily volleyball games, lots of new people, a little Arabic (and German and English and French and Italian and Spanish) practice– but I need a little more variety in scenery from day to day.

I enjoyed my time in Ain el-Sokhna, but I realized I was actually a bit homesick for Alexandria as we drove back to Cairo to catch our train.

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