Living in a bustling metropolis like Cairo can take its toll. Thats why people retreat to the numerous resorts dotted along the coast for some relaxation. We decided to be more adventerous and ventured further to the red sea and the city of Marsa Alam, famous for its sea-life and and a haven for hardcore divers.
We arrived at a diving resort called Marsa Shagra which is situated at the heart of the coral and boasts one of the best diving places in the world. The red sea has a high salinity (4% more than average, apart from the red sea), making it abundant with many species of fish.
By the second day I had tried snorkelling and as I write this it is the third day. This morning I woke up early, wanting to get good visibility in the sea. After a leisurely breakfast, by 8am I put on my life jacket, goggles and snorkels and waded into the sea. Because I’m not a strong swimmer, the life jacket enabled me to go further without drowning.
It was the most inspiring and awe (insert more adjectives) moment in my life.
We had arrived on a wednesday and booked ourselves in a royal tent, complete with a mini fridge and fan. By the afternoon they warned us that there was a storm due that evening. As the sunset a flash of lightning struck. The monsterous roar of thunder sounded and a few moments later it started raining. A few drops at first, and then a heavy downpour. People started to panic and grab the cushions to take inside. Others fled into the restaurant. I hadn’t seen rain for a few months and it felt amazing.
That night we moved to a hut and slept to the sound of the wind strongly blowing against the shore, wondering what adventures the morning would bring.
After my Arabic lesson, on the way home I nipped into the local fish restaurant. I carefully chose two fishes that were probably swimming in the sea a few hours earlier. In my broken Arabic I told the man to gut the fish, clean it and chop the head off. I couldn’t do with the sad eyes staring at me. I watched as he did all this and then washed the fish in the sink and bagged it. The fish here is very cheap and it all only cost me 12 LE which is roughly £1.40.
The reason I decided on buying fish was that although I would say I’m a healthy person e.g I eat lots of fruit and veg and never consume any fried foods, try to exercise etc, I felt that I needed to try harder. And what better place to try and be healthy then in Egypt. The fruit and vegetables are very cheap so you end up buying bags full of the stuff and mass cooking it.
Having said that, judging by the copious amount of fast food places here you could easily become a junk food addict. It doesn’t help that most places are open 24 hours and have a free delivery service. Now you don’t even need to leave the comfort of your home to eat a big Mac.
I decided to walk the 30 minutes home to try and get some exercise and absorb my surroundings. But the walk wasn’t as enjoyable as I hoped. Smoke poured freely from ramshackle cars and rusty buses as i walked by. Sand blew wildly from the streets and rubbish dumped at the side was being burnt releasing the familiar smell that reminds me of Cairo.
I finally made it home and prepared the fish. I chopped up onions, garlic, tomatoes, corriander, yellow pepper, lemon juice and chili. I seasoned with salt and black pepper and drizzled olive oil over the fish which I placed on a flat tray and put in the oven. Cook for about 20 minutes or till the fish is moist and cooked. Serve with steamed vegetables and boiled potatoes.
I bought my favourite jacket to Cairo in time for the winter, and boy am I glad I did. Whilst people are shivering with their acrylic lined jackets I’m toasty warm in mine made from 100% wool. I’ve had my trusty jacket for over two years and it’s still in good shape. But the other day I noticed that the small hole that materialised a while back has now developed into a huge gap right at the elbow.
I’ve been walking around with that hole trying to hide it by putting my hands to the side like a soldier, and at the same time looking completely stupid. So this morning I went to the local haberdashery and bought some thread. I will now attempt to stitch it up.