Market day in El Quseir and dolphins in the Red Sea

Diving in the Red Sea was everything we were hoping for and then some.  Over the eight days at Roots Camp, we dove on four days plus Chris did a night dive.  We saw beautiful, colourful coral like we have never seen before.  There was an abundance of fish of all sizes, as well as sea turtles and, much to our amazement, dolphins.  That’s right.  During one of our dives, a group of 10 blue nosed dolphins slowly swam by us, within a couple of metres.  They seemed as curious about as as we were of them.  In fact as the group passed, one turned around to take another look at us and for a moment it looked like he was coming back to play, but in the end he continued on with the rest.  It is was quite something to see dolphins in their natural habitat and in such close proximity.

Creating my own shade in between dives where we had to wait
an hour, usually at mid day under the scorching sun.
My little “tent” proved quite effective.

Most people who stay at Roots Camp dive every single day.  There really isn’t much else to do if you’re not diving so we had to find ways to entertain ourselves on our non-diving days.  It wasn’t difficult.  There was the beach with comfy loungers and umbrellas which we had to ourselves whenever we wanted. No need to rush in the early morning to reserve a chair.  We had the beach all to ourselves at any time of the day.  We spent several evenings lying on the beach star gazing to the gentle sound of waves lapping onto the shore.  The sky was always clear but the bright moonlight limited the number of stars we could see.  And of course there was the house reef where we could snorkel at leisure.

A Praying Mantis – the only one we saw.

I was quite content to lounge around the beach, reading my book all day long (thank goodness for my Kindle) but Chris was drawn to the construction site like a bee to honey.  There was a large crew working on several new chalets and they were under a tight deadline to complete three units before guests arrived on Friday.  Chris was certain they wouldn’t be done in time (for the record, one was completed by 11:00 pm Friday night) and he checked on the crew’s progress each day, keenly interested in their construction techniques and a little aghast by the lack of safety on the work site.  I think Chris was in his element when Steve, the camp manager, asked if he would like a small project to do, one that would require the use of power tools.  And so Chris took on a small woodworking project – a decorative piece of wood to fill in the gap at the top of a door frame.  Chris agreed to build two of them.  In his design, he decided to get creative and add a mosaic element, or I should say, he decided I would add the mosaic to the frame he was building.  I was less than enthusiastic to be drawn into his project because mosaics are a lot of work, they require special tools of which we had none, and they take a lot of time to create.  Seeing Chris’ enthusiasm and happiness working in the workshop, I reluctantly agreed to help out.  I smashed all the tiles with a sledge hammer, my only tool, and created both designs.  But time was running out so I enlisted Chris to help out with the final execution – cementing the tiles down and grouting.  I must admit to some satisfaction when Chris commented on how much work and how difficult it was to do the mosaics, he had no idea they were so hard to do.  And to his credit, his mosaic turned out pretty good.  And so we left our mark, good or bad, on Roots Camp.

When Clare, the other camp manager (and Steve’s wife) told us she was going to the market in El Quseir to purchase all the fruit and vegetables for the camp, she invited us to come along, I jumped at the opportunity to explore a local, non-tourist market.   Chris was reluctant to venture back into town as he hated being harassed by all the shop keepers and still didn’t feel comfortable in his surroundings.  But in the end, he came along to support me as it is much better for a woman to be accompanied by a man when in public.  The market was busy and the produce was abundant.  Everything is shipped in from Luxor since nothing grows locally.  Live animals like sheep and chicken were also sold at the market.  It was a great place to people watch.  I noticed most of the women  were dressed  in heavy black garments, covered head to toe.  I wondered how they coped with the heat.  The men wore airy, light colored galabeyas which seemed much more sensible in the heat.

As our week wore on, more and more guests arrived until the camp had reached full capacity on Friday night.  What a difference from the first seven days when there were only three other guests.  Chris and I preferred the peace and quiet we enjoyed earlier in the week, although when a large group of French guests invited us to join them for cocktail hour, we didn’t mind one bit :)

We thoroughly enjoyed our time at Roots Camp and diving with Pharaoh Dive Club and would recommend both whole heartedly.  The staff at Pharaoh Dive Club were professional, experienced and went out of their way to make sure we had a good diving experience.  At Roots Camp, we ate well and abundantly all week, enjoyed clean facilities, slept in comfy rooms even though we were mere “hut dwellers”, and made some new friends to boot.  All in all it was a great experience.

Video: El Quseir

This afternoon we travelled to Luxor by private vehicle organized by Steve, the camp manager.  There isn’t much between El Quseir and Luxor – miles and miles of dirt, stone, and sand. As you approach Luxor, the first thing you notice is the greenery – trees and grass and then the land turns agricultural.  It truly is an oasis in the middle of the desert.  We will be in Luxor until Monday and have a full program lined up between now and then, thanks to the capable and helpful Tour Agency associated with our hotel, Hotel Nefertiti.  We’ll be sure to tell you all about it in the days to come.  On Monday, we embark on a five-day Nile cruise down to Aswan.  We will be visiting many temples and important archaeological sites along the way.  We will spend next weekend in Aswan and then we plan to travel to Cairo by train.  But I’m getting a little ahead of myself.  Right now, I must finish off this post as we have a very early start tomorrow.

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One Response
  1. Angus says:

    We’re now getting frost some mornings and this weekend we packed up the back yard and put away the lawn furniture to get ready for winter. In fact last Monday when we were taking off for Toronto in the morning, they deiced the plane. So enjoy the heat and send lots of pics.