Transit to Egypt/Red Sea/Tabha

Of the 10 days we were on the Holy Land trip, this day was one of the less productive ones as far as sightseeing was concerned. We were supposed to have been taken to the House of Bethany, home of the two women who took Christ in to their house and the famous recounting of Martha washing Christ’s feet after anointing it with expensive and sacred oil. This however had to be cancelled due to local strife between the Israeli authority and Palestinians, from what was recounted to us there was stone throwing and tear gas to dispel unruly crowds. Unfortunately this happened on the route to Bethany. We also parted ways with our guide in Israel Shehadi, who had been friendly and informed, but one could feel that he needed more exposure in the business, he had only 1 ½ years of experience and that was evident at times.

The border checking was rigorous, from Israel to Egypt, South Sinai. We changed buses again, luggage, immigration formalities et al. Due to Egypt’s heavy security, we had accompanying us right through our trip in Egypt a government appointed security guard on the bus, a new driver (whose name escapes me) and our Egyptian guide – Mehmood. He introduced himself as from Luxor, and we found him to be over the next 2 plus days, articulate and very knowledgeable of both Egyptian history and Christian lore. I discovered that he had a masters degree from the University of Cairo in Egyptology. Mehmood, gave us an idea of what was going to be the historical leg of our tour, we were going to see the Great Pyramids, Sphynx and visit a Museum in Cairo. One of the stops on our long 10 hour journey to Cairo was the  Qumran caves where in the middle of the last century the Dead Sea scrolls were discovered that gave further historical basis to the life of Christ and on the whole Judeo-Christianity faiths. The caves themselves could not be described as deep into the earth, but the fact that the Scrolls were found there was in some ways quite remarkable after what must have been more than 18 or 19 centuries.

By afternoon we had done our sightseeing and drove by the Red Sea right up to the resort of Taba in the South Sinai. The hotel was good, the food was more than palatable and the conveniences, swimming pool, spa, entertainment were more than what we had expected. We spent the evening, relaxing in the swimming pool, a time for bonding between members of the group. There were swimmers and non-swimmers who had a good time in the pool, especially coaxing the unwilling to join others in the pool. Unfortunately it was here that I lost my glasses, near a hut on the beach of the Red Sea and from that point onwards every sign and anything that required reading was a chore, even some distant vision was a bit blurry, this resulted in my having to borrow Shyni’s reading glasses, which came in real handy. In the evening after dinner while walking through the hotel we heard of some entertainment which would start at 9pm. Shyni had earlier on with other womenfolk signed up for a mani-pedi offered at the hotel for a very reasonable price ($20!) which by US standards is very cheap, according to people in the know.

That evening we saw a good show of entertainment, courtesy of the hotel, a belly dance and a unique dance with as we came to learn led by a male dancer, wearing a cape of lights called Tanoura. It was a truly an experience in colorful lighting and coordinated whirling and dancing to music, with what can only described as Arab tunes. The music, the beat even the vocals which of course we couldn’t understand,  and then the cape of lights that they whirl around! A pause to the usual sightseeing days, punctuated by meals and then off to your hotel room, straight into bed type of routine we had gotten used to, this almost made up for the sightseeing we had missed.

Waiting in line for clearance from Israel to Egypt.

Tabha Resort in Egypt.

Tanoura dancer getting a guest to do the whirl, Tabha resort in Egypt.

Gingerly stepping among the big rocks of the Red Sea.

The Red Sea and the Sinai mountains in the distance.

Frolicking in the pool at the Tabha Resort, Egypt

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