Erica in Cairo

Erica is a junior majoring in art history in Meadows School of the Arts and international studies in Dedman College, with a minor in Italian. She also is a Hatton W. Sumners Scholar. In fall 2010, Erica will be taking classes in Egyptology and Middle Eastern studies at the American University in Cairo with SMU-in-Cairo. She hopes to learn as much Arabic as possible while traveling throughout the region.

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Dahab!

In America, there is a generally understood concept of “night.” I am no scientist, but I understand it as the part of our 24-hour cycle when the sun goes down. It is a time often spent at home in the presence of one’s family, followed by hours and hours of sleep. My previously understood definition of the word has all but ceased to exist since my arrival in Egypt – darkness and sleeping do not go hand in hand.

cairo8.jpgTake for example our departure for the Sinai Peninsula Wednesday night. It makes perfect sense to drive through the night, because the bus ride is roughly eight hours. But it also means that Wednesday night (and the beginning of our trip) was effectively sleepless. There were, I believe, 22 of us in a glorified van.

After a night of driving through what looked like the moon, we arrived in the beach city of Dahab in the Sinai Peninsula. For those of you familiar with the area, it is a bit like Sharm el Sheikh, but much cheaper and less developed. People walk around in swimsuits everywhere. After being in conservative Cairo, the sight of Europeans in thongs was quite startling.

cairo9.jpgUnfortunately, our first experience in the famous beach city was with the hotel that lost our reservation. Because it was Eid, the end of Ramadan, everyone was traveling and everything was booked – especially for a group as large as ours! So we ended up at what can only be considered a camp, run by a California hippie named Dakini (pronounced like bikini with a “d”).

She had stray animals all over the place, but considered them her pets. Rooms were $15 a night, or $5 without air conditioning. The toilets and showers didn’t work because she was having water problems. After Sally (my roommate) and I had to sneak in to a random hotel to shower, we decided we were not paying $15 to be trapped in such a hovel, and so set off down the beach to find a cheaper, nicer place (or more expensive, if that meant we could use a restroom).

Find a cheaper, better place we did! We ended up staying at a nice hotel, breakfast included, for $8 a night. It had its own private beach, a toilet that flushed, and clean showers. Sounds good to me!

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