Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Dahab of our Dreams

I first fell in love with the Sinai in Dahab.
This tiny stretch of cafes and campsites hugs the coast of the Red Sea, and is filled with Egyptians making their living, backpacking tourists, and Scuba divers. I went there right before I was to become a diver.
The recent bombings at the Lantern, the Al Capone and the Ghazala Supermarket are especially cruel, because they targeted local, Muslim, working or holidaying Egyptians. (Not that bombing swanky hotels, rich foreigners or vacationing Israelis is allowable, but it does fall into familiar patterns.)The idea is to cripple the local population and instill them with fear, while scaring away foreign tourists and their money.
I feel for the victims and their families, and their communities, and the entire industry. Dahab is not a rich place: the divers that camp there are budget travellers who scrape together their piastres for a campsite and an omelet at one of the beachside tables.
I have a clear memory of snorkeling in Dahab. When I lifted my face from the water, I could see the dry, red cliffs of the Sinai and the one small beachside road. It was dry, dusty, and dramatically lonely. And with one tilt of my face back into the water, a huge, lush beautiful world opened before me, filled with color and corals and life. I felt like this was the beauty of the Sinai: At first glance one thinks it is a dry desert triangle of bombs and conflict wedged between warring nations. But right under the surface is a riot of color, life, emotion and hope. This is the Dahab I remember, the Dahab I will tell divers about, the Dahab I fell in love with, the Dahab of my dreams.

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