A fellow traveler in Dahab asked: where have you visited that you felt you could just get lost and stay indefinitely? It’s no coincidence that this question was asked in Dahab and it’s the first place where I’ve truly felt like that. It’s the kind of place that makes you want to be a beach bum, a surfer bum or, in this case, a diving bum (that’s a thing, right?) for the rest of your life.
Dahab is located on the Red Sea in Egypt and it has that perfect mix of sleepy chill vibe, tourist friendly infrastructure and not too much hassle. The ocean strip has a long promenade lined with ocean side cafe/restaurants on one side and hotels/tourist shops on the other. Diving is cheap and world renowned here and there are so many great spots for diving and snorkeling alike. Shisha is popular and it’s the perfect way to relax and enjoy the atmosphere.
This seaside destination has not been as popular with tourists since the Egyptian revolution in 2011 and it’s evident in how empty most of the strip still is. I sincerely hope this town is getting enough visitors for sustainability and I equally hope the town doesn’t sell out.
I fell in love with Dahab on day 1 of my arrival and it made me immediately aware of my limited time there. As I did my best to enjoy every moment of my time, I could already feel each day slipping through my fingers.
Don’t lose your spirit, Dahab! I’m coming back some day and next time I might not leave.
In preparation for my 8h bus ride from Cairo to Dahab, a friend told me that I would pass under the Suez Canal via tunnel on the way. He also told me the canal is the most important part of Egypt’s economy, but he didn’t warn me about all the security checks en route. I was aware that I was heading near an area of Egypt with a high security risk (which the Canadian government had been very clear about before I left) and I’m sure the security checks on highways around the country were created for good reason. I’m happy to report that I felt very safe beyond the general precautions of being a woman traveling alone.
Right before we reached the canal, all vehicles were pulled over for a search and a few traveler’s bags were targeted. They seemed to focus on searching bags of women traveling alone. There were only two of us and we were part of the few who had their bags pulled apart beside the bus. My Egyptian seatmate (who spoke more Italian than English) had taken me under his wing by translating relevant information on the bus ride (nothing is announced in English) so he helped me understand what was going on. Unfortunately, not being prepared for these security checks, I had to do my classiest “pull my passport out of my money belt while nonchalantly pretending that I’m not putting my hands down my pants” which I have practiced before.
The soldier did a pretty thorough search of my bag without destroying my packing cube arrangement (+1 for packing cubes). Luckily, he didn’t question anything in my first aid kit (I’m pretty stocked up on meds for all emergencies), but he did find my condom stash and, apparently, he’d never seen one before. I couldn’t help but smile along with the bus driver and my seatmate, who were overseeing the searching, as the soldier took the time to read the labels. Whether this particular revelation was what prompted my seatmate to buy me a soda later and give me his number, I can’t say for sure.
Once again, I appreciated the kindness of strangers in other countries – whether or not they had ulterior motives.
[Safety note: I had no intention of ever calling my friendly (a bit too friendly) seatmate and if he’d asked for any details about my stay in Dahab, I would have lied.]