“Welcome to Hurghada,” Mondi, my host, greeted me.
“Shukran,” I grinned, shaking his hand.
It’d been awhile since I’ve been in water. Due to multiple ear infections throughout 2015 I was beached as. Sure, I was working on Musafir in Kilifi Creek, kayaking around, paddling up Mida Creek and occasionally sayin’, “G’day,” to the Indian Ocean.
But I couldn’t go underwater, my comfort zone. My happy place, if you will. When I finally found the doctor that realised what I had been telling the previous seven – that I had a perforated hole in my ear drum – I was finally given the right treatment.
Two weeks later I was kayaking and rafting the white (brown) waters of the Tana River in Kenya, without issue. Then the deserts of Ethiopia and Sudan took me away from the salt waters of the ocean until I found myself in Hurghada, Egypt.
“This town is young,” explained Mondi, leading us to the marina. “It was built specifically for the intention of tourism.”
“A resort town,” I said.
“Yes. It’s only 40-years-old.”
It’s been awhile since I’ve visited a marina and Hurghada’s is impressive. Large motorised yachts and a few sailing ones docked by the boardwalk dotted with side-by-side cafes and restaurants.
I’m not really into motorised yachts. Ever since I sailed across the Indian Ocean I’ve risen in love with being propelled by the wind. Perhaps it relates to my flatulent abilities. Either way, there’s no better way to cross the water then by sailing.
Hurghada is the name of a palm tree said to have been visible from a distance and used as a navigational point and resting area for the fishermen when they returned from their trips. The tree is long gone, in its place, the marina. At the far end of it, sits the port of Hurghada where giant ferries take passengers to Saudi Arabia. Behind it, stood a majestic mosque.
“Is called the Mina mosque,” explained Mondi. “Mina means ‘port’.”
I’ve never been inside a mosque. I usually refrain from entering places of worship. Being a devout believer in science, The Universe, Karma and the inarguable laws of nature, I feel that I might tarnish a house of prayer. But it is an impressive building and Mondi took me in.
We removed our shoes and headed into the main hall, empty of worshipers. I looked up and around, impressed by the high dome ceilings and was pointed out the Quran inscriptions on the panels of the walls and ceilings.
There was a lot of ‘Only one true god’ in the pamphlets that were in a range of languages but I steered clear of the propaganda. I had enjoyed what I had experienced so far of the Muslim world and didn’t need any fuel for fires I was keeping at bay within me.
Later that night we passed by Jolly Café, on Sheraton street. “The most famous street in Hurghada,” Mondi claimed.
At Jolly Café I bartered with Abdullah and Ahmed, the manager\owners for food and, my latest thing, a bus ticket. I was travelling in the wrong time of year. It was way too hot to stand by the side of the road and so I’d come up with a new strategy. As I was staying with Mondi, I didn’t need bed. Just food and a bus ticket to Cario.
“Can you play us something now?” Ahmed asked.
I auditioned with my standard crowd-pleaser, Folsom Prison Blues by Johnny Cash and was accepted to play that night for three hours. There was no microphone so I strummed out instrumentals until the traditional Egyptian singer who sings nightly came by with one.
But I was knackered and for the next day I had bartered a snorkel trip and needed some rest.
I couldn’t wait to go – as the mafia says – swim with the fishes.