Friday, August 27, 2004

Late Summer Chill

PalmWadi
PalmWadi, originally uploaded by Miloflamingo.
I'm back in Sharm el Sheikh with a group of my friends for a four day chill by the Red Sea before the end of summer....but then, does summer really end by other people's standards in Egypt? I guess not. Our winter is other countries' summer to judge by England, Germany or Canada. We have the same kind of slowdown during the summer months that many of you have during the winter, but in our case the heat is the cause rather than the cold.

But to get back to the wonder of South Sinai, the wadi (a valley caused by winter floods) in the photo is typical of the small oases that are encountered where ever the water table is close enough to the surface for the palms to reach it. If Moses actually spent 40 years wandering Sinai, he wasn't wandering in a very large area, but it is some of the most daunting landscape I've ever seen. You find either barren rock or the odd oasis, and not much in between. The 5 to 6 hour drive down used to be a real trek with only a couple of gas stations that might or might not have gas available. Now there are hotels springing up all along the coast of the Gulf of Suez and the gas stations also have little mini marts that sell Red Bull, Dr. Pepper, and Tostitos. The price of progress.

The price has been much higher in Sharm el Sheikh, now known in our household as Las Vegas By The Sea. Once a sleepy group of camping huts and an odd hotel by Naama Bay, it has become the new Italian hotspot filled with shops, hotels, restaurants, clubs, and tourists. I brought my camera with me and will take some photos for the unbelievers. You will have trouble thinking that this is a destination in the Middle East.

We don't actually immerse ourselves in LVBTS much when we come here because I have the luxury of a house in an Italian vacation compound north of there. In some respects the invasion of civilisation has been a blessing for us since we no longer have to drive down here loaded with groceries. Now we have the fruit sellers in the Shades (aka old Sharm where all the local workers live and shop...Shades is for Discworld devotees), the foul and tameya shops, the plastic shoe sellers, and some big supermarkets where you can even buy Pringles. For the people who live and work here, it's a benefit being able to buy luxuries, visit doctors and have schools, definitely.

But the price in the area of the corals and the access to the sea has been enormous. The construction of the hotels and resorts has generated a lot of dust and sand that kills corals. The tourist aren't always careful in avoiding contact with corals, which kills them as well. The vast numbers of dive boats isn't exactly a blessing either but with all the tourists here, they are in use constantly. Where Sharm was once barren sand and rock with riotous colour and life, now recycled water has brought the rich green of the Delta to the gardens much to the delight of migrating bird life. This also has increased the humidity in the area, not to my delight. But you can't have everything.

1 comment:

rowena said...

As usual, I've enjoyed reading another of your wonderful posts. The thing about the LVBTS makes me chuckle because my in-laws went there recently and thoroughly enjoyed themselves. How they can Pringles and Red Bull is worth another chuckle, I just wish someone would import vegemite over here.