Better than Dahab?

May 8, 2010 at 3:25 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments

Remember all those times I ranted and raved about how Dahab is of inestimable value and probably one of the most perfect places in the universe? That’s probably not true, first of all, but I received a dose of relativity this weekend with the program trip to Marsa Matruh, a “summering” beach town on the Mediterranean about 4 hours west of Alexandria. Even if a place can rival Dahab, it’d be hard pressed to rival the experience and company that defined Dahab in the first place, and beaches of Marsa Matruh delivered. First of all, Egyptians think that it’s winter right now, so they won’t “summer” in Marsa Matruh until June, when it’ll be more crazily crowded than Cairo. But in early May, the beaches and hotels are completely empty. Literally.

We got in late and had a beautiful dinner of dani (lamb). Afterwards a handful of us jumped the wall on the corniche and waded a little. The sand was magically, more like flour than sand. And even in the light from the streetlights the water was perfectly clear – its bottom was also like flour. Our hotel was actually a collection of apartments, so I shacked up with Kremer, Scott, and Chris. SF, Jade, and Emily joined us for some popcorn and “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” and we all turned in around 3:00am. The next morning we had an early start to Agiba (which translates as “wonder” or “miracle” Beach). The colors of the Mediterranean at this longitude are like what you see in “Sandals” brochures or on Lost and Castaway, but never what you’d ever find in nature. Except in Marsa Matruh. Agiba Beach had a small stretch of white sand and then a wrapping cliff-face with caves and Mars-colored boulders ripe for the scrambling-over. The waves against the rocks weren’t so violent that we refrained from dropping into the pool-like water to make it to the next boulder, but it was certainly a tumultuous trip. After a few hours at Agiba we relocated to a more conventional perfect beach, sand like flour. About half the students left us for an extra two nights at Marina, halfway to Alexandria, but the remainder of us had a blast with chicken fights, soccer, frisbee, Marco Polo (Ibn… Batuta!), sand castles, drip castles, and burying Kremer. And getting nice and crispy red. Whoops.

Marsa Matruh would be a hell hole in the “warm months.” We concluded its appeal relied entirely on the fact that we were LITERALLY the only party present. Curse the perfect sand and water if every two feet there’s another umbrella and beach chairs and obnoxious music playing from cheap boomboxes. The other best aspect of the trip was that it was so heavily subsidized by the program it was practically free. Woot!

Unfortunately I slept oddly on the busride home, and then headed the soccer ball at our last weekly soccer game yesterday and exploded the cervical region of my spinal cord. Yesterday and today I’ve been nursing it and all but ODing on acetominophen. I also have a cold, so when I sneeze it feels like whiplash. It’s all improved, alhamdilulah, and I should be fine tomorrow or the day after at any rate. Tomorrow is the first day of our last week – finals! I have my Amiyyah final on Tuesday and my Fosha and Amiyyah finals on Wednesday. Wednesday night is our year-end banquet and talent show. I’m singing a song by Amr Diab with Naguib and a translated “Put Your Lights On” with Sabry. And eating a lot fo free!

Mostly, these days I want to be on the plane from Heathrow to Boston. Or just never leave. But the “one week left!” feeling is such an in between place, and man do I hate in between places. It goes without saying I’ve had one of those “times of my life” in Egypt and if I weren’t rushing into this Omani adventure so soon I’d get really bored and nostalgic for Alex really quickly, living in Westborough. But I’m run out of academic focus here, and cultural acclamation juice, and I’m really missing the Westboroughians and Middleburians I can see this summer, not to mention the family. And on this side, a week-long goodbye to my Egyptian friends, who feel a little like family, and to my American friends, who are some of the most fun and inspiring people I’ve encountered, feels like pulling a bandaid off very slowly.

So as I said, I get really happy when I imagine myself emotionally calloused on my pampered BA flight. Free movies. Alcohol? The Parents and a Honda at Logan? Somehow it seems better than the most water colored beach reality I could imagine.



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  1. Awww, isn’t that sweet?

    In-between feelings are difficult. Work hard, pack well, enjoy your hours and days with friends and acquaintance of all kinds, take pictures of your frequent haunts, and travel carefully.

  2. British Airways is amazing. I just returned from my Heathrow-Newark flight, chock full of a dozen movie choices and free Argentinian wine. (Ask for the Malbec. It was great). Beware of ridiculous luggage restrictions.

    Perhaps our paths will cross before you leave for Oman?

    • You landed in Newark? That must have been an emergency landing, then. Hope everything’s alright. 😛

      Can I check two bags for free?

      It makes me sad to say it is very unlikely I’ll see you in my three weeks at home, because for a cumulative two weeks of the three I’ll be in NC, VT, and NH visiting friends and family. The longest stretch I have with nothing planned is two days, and that’s major parent-time. However, I hope to see you in August and again at the “We want to drink alcohol and mix genders in a secular environment in honor of having studied at Middlebury’s School in the ME!” reunion party at Midd this fall.

  3. I like your last paragraph a lot. A lot, a lot.

    • Really? When did you become a home-body?

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