To rest. A day with nothing to do. Stated officially. “Tomorrow, we have to do nothing.” We'll have no sites to see or connections to make except with the Red Sea, seen last night for our first time and now shining aloud. It was nice in the dark and its nicer in the day. We have a remarkable corner room with a few to the left and a view to the right. The sea is not “red.” My wife noted convincingly. I stared out and thought of Arabia, which I thought perhaps I could see, until I checked Google Maps and confirmed that there are a few islands, five kilometers off shore (Jazair Jiftun). And I thought of Moses and tried to explain the parting of the Red Sea, to my wife and I thought of Peter O’Toole the way his eyes pop out of his head when, as Lawrence of Arabia he looks at the water after being in the desert and says “Aqaba,” and I thought of being a little grade school boy and learning of Jacques Cousteau diving in the Red Sea when he was the coolest figure I could imagine.
Outside are pleasure yachts of varying degrees of grandeur. The Egyptian flag is fluttering above a thatched hut. It seems small but determined. Yesterday, driving up and back to Qbey and Abydos there were many pillbox towers check-points with machine guns poking out were a much more imposing site. This town is most certainly a target. I’m sure the security in general around this town in tight. The water is crystal clear as it ought to be and there are families down below, none of them dressed conservatively, lounging. In the lobbies are a jarring cabal of the Cancun-set here with their American stares of presumption. This place is certainly seen as an infidel colonization by some.
And where are the Russians? I had been told that the Russians loved to go to Egypt and I’ve been here two weeks and not met nor heard one Russian voice. Perhaps there all here at the beach doing what you can’t do in the summer in the Baltic. Perhaps they are at the Russian-friendly resorts somewhere further up or down the coast. I warned our guide and a quick look on the web confirms that Chinese tourism to Egypt doubled over the last few years. It will invariably double and then double again. Sooner or later China will face a soul-shaking challenge to its international presence.
I had very much wanted my children to see Egypt. I wanted to see it as well. Last night I toasted the whole family for their endurance. We’d seen a tremendous amount in the last twelve days. And as happens with a collective journey like this, the gestation of inspiration can be one year and be many years. The shared experience regardless creates a webbing of references that hold you closer together as a family. Sharp narratives.
Tomorrow early, we fly out. First to Cairo, and then on to JFK. A blessing then, being able to have seen all this safely and while we can, as a collective.