"" Writer's Wanderings: Pirates and Water and Sand, Oh My!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Pirates and Water and Sand, Oh My!

From Dubai, we cruised a bit south and then west and northwest if my internal compass can be believed. Whatever the true compass direction, our captain, who is really a commodore, Commodore Warner, took us safely through the waters that were dangerously close to where Somalian pirate activity has been known to take place. We were asked to keep our balcony lights off at night and to close our drapes and turn off unnecessary lights in our cabins. On the open decks, security placed several lookouts. The commodore told us that on the bridge was a Royal Naval officer who was our liaison between us and the warships patrolling the area should we experience any trouble.

And then came the pirate drill.

We were all asked to participate in a mock drill for our sake as well as for the crew to know what to do in an emergency. Those of us who had outside staterooms were asked to sit or stand in the hallway. Those with inside staterooms were to stay in them during the drill. Room stewards took attendance and I’m sure there were other parts of the drill involving the crew that we did not see. It was quite an adventure but no one was overly concerned. Our ship was fast and the commodore had it full throttle. I think we might have been able to ski off the back. No pirates showed up—not even Johnny Depp.

Once we were into the Red Sea, we slowed a bit and relaxed. We were in Egyptian waters. Egypt?! Our first port of call was Safaga on the western shore of the Red Sea. The port area was not heavily populated. It was definitely a shipping port. In the distance we could see the city of Safaga. Many passengers took a day long excursion to Luxor and the Valley of the Kings where there are lots of temples and tombs to be explored. We chose to stay closer to the ship and ventured into Hurghada, a resort area near Safaga known for its five star resorts and scuba diving.

During the almost hour long bus ride, I saw more sand than I have seen totally in my life time. There are lots of different colors depending upon how the sun reflects off of it. But for as far as you could see in one direction, there was nothing but dry sand. Not a speck of green anywhere. It was amazing. I could not imagine what it must be like to live in such a place as many Bedouins still do.

The tour bus dropped us off at a Hilton where we were able to enjoy the beach area and the resort’s beautiful pools. A buffet lunch was served in their restaurant. We were a little disappointed that the buffet was not more of a local flavor although the dessert table held some heavenly pastries coated/dipped in honey. Sweet but not as sweet as our honey back home. I also found what I thought looked like a date of sorts but it turned out to taste more like a plum. We managed to get one of the waiters to tell us that it grows on a tree in the area.

The Red Sea here was beautiful and clean and clear. The beach was nice because it was shallow and you could walk out a long way before it got deep. The water however was cold and while the sun was warm, the air was a bit cool when the wind blew off the water. Hard to believe in a desert area but this time of year, the temperatures are more moderate.

All along the way to the resort and back again, Egyptians took a moment to wave at the bus as we were obviously a group of tourists and they were genuinely glad to see tourists returning. It was nice to feel welcome especially as we passed by armed military vehicles stationed along the way. Egypt was still under military control until their election scheduled to take place in a few weeks.

And one last note. . .almost anywhere you travel in the world today, you are never far from the golden arches.

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