When ask Dotahn’s favorite question the people of Israel were unanimous in their answer of where the best place to visit in Israel is. The Beaches of Sinai! Okay, so, it’s not in Israel anymore, returned to being apart of Egypt. But you should see the far away look of dreamy happiness whenever Sinai is mentioned to an Israeli. Unfortunately most have not been back in many a year as it is deemed Too Dangerous for Israelis. However when we told Danielle of our plans she immediately ask to tag along. Rachella heard the news and also joined the gang. Woooooo! Group trip to Sinai!
We left solo to catch up with the girls the following day. A bus journey of what should be three and half hours is stretched to five as the bus continually stops along the way and we are tired and nervous as we reach the Egyptian border late at night. Deserted, the border is a breeze and we are soon wandering along a dark road into egypt after showing our passports around eight times to various soldiers and officials lounging in the oppressive desert air. Camels spit and grunt in the shadows and the road seems long and devoid of anything much. A man begins to drive alongside us and use his limited vocabulary to try to find out where we want to go. Eventually we are riding in a harsh air-conditioned breeze, flying rapidly through the darkness with the glint of the sea and the towering rocks of the desert enclosing us. Arriving at a huddle of small huts and buildings, the taxi driver takes us along a dark walkway until we emerge into lights strung inside a huge beautiful tent riddled with cushions and the gentle sound of the sea. A gentle smile urges us to sit and drink tea, not to worry, relax we have arrived at Kum Kum 3.
Our home during our stay was a humble little straw hut a leap from the sea’s edge. Nestled in the sand with colorful rugs as a floor, musty mattresses and hard cushions for pillows, it housed a simple charm. Scrounging around we found more cushions and a little table making the veranda cosy and ripe for the days of lounging around.
So hot. Back and forth, we cooled down in the ocean, communing with the sand, then dripped back to our hut to snooze and read. The Red Sea is like swimming in a luke warm bath of tears,bright blues and greens in color and no waves except the occasional little splash. Very shallow untill you wade out far into the reef, and even more so when the tide goes out at night. A strange experience of the sea for those of us used to the bitter cold and grey colored fury of waves that are familiar in the seas south of Australia.
The desert looms in mountains behind the small huts. A rocky, volcanic black shade in contrast to the yellowy white that has become familiar in Israel. Hazy brothers to the mountains behind can be glimpsed in the evening across the sea marking the territory of Saudi Arabia. The shallows are rocky and filled with squishy looking sea cucumbers in the afternoon. With snorkels in hand we make our way towards the shining turquoise bands of water far away from the shore. Here we find a wonderland. An expansive reef in pinks and reds filled with schools of brightly colored tropical fish and sea anemones. Many an hour was spent drifting with the currents and swimming with the schools, transported to an alien undersea life. Floating on our stomachs we lost time and came out to find Emmily’s buttocks well cooked.
Our friends Danielle, Rachella and the new face of Marina arrived with a couple of guys they met along the way from Argentina and New Zealand. Joining the lazy dream-like hours with cards, conversation, Shesh Besh and smiles. In the evenings many faces from around the globe moved in and out of the candlelight as we sipped extremely sweet tea and conversations moved in waves from the sinking moon, 11:11 o ‘clock, silly strings of story telling and the state of the Bedouins as a culture. Having gone from Nomadic to stationary they are now stuck with the consequences. Not used to the modern world there is a need to preserve their culture while still providing skills and jobs to the people. Sinai is a great example of their hospitality, colorful culture and their deep ties to their history.
Time melted in the heat and reappeared all too quickly with the end of our stay . Goodbye’s spoken in bear hugs with proclamations that we will see each other again followed by the journey back to Tel Aviv shared with Marina. We were stopped at the border where Dotahn was put under scrutiny. Having an Israeli name, but an Australian passport and being generally suspicious. We were held for more than half an hour with Dotahn being treated to a bewildering series of questions trying to flesh out his entire life up until his point of re-entry into Israel. The following morning was filled with waves goodbye and the sterile familiarity of the airport enfolded us in its melancholy.
But the excitement of the next journey awaits….