19 January, 2013

a Tramp in Paradise

This was wasteland not long ago. Now Port Ghalib, a divers and longdrinkers paradise.
Port Ghalib is not my kind of place. Well, the above water part is not. Everything is designed out of sand to facilitate the tourist's needs and desires. It took me a couple of days before I could see that this is actually an important part of Egypt's industry and that a lot of Europeans actually enjoy and maybe even need to come to such a non cultural ghetto to warm up or just do nothing.
    Some of the visitors in Marina Lodge do not even snorkel. It is madness to me. But I do realize that they appreciate the stay, for one reason or the other. I mean, they actually seem happy to be here, doing pretty much nothing except sipping a drink and stretching by the pool - and I am the only grumpy one.

I am ... a snob.

I am realizing that I am a snob, much more than them. I am a cultural snob, not wanting to mix with the touristic underclass cramming uninteresting places like this, which is unworthy of my refined and experienced presence.
    Actually, I am more and more avoiding to enter conversations with climate travelers. I am the odd one staying to himself, or being seen communicating with the pool-guy, hoping to find traces of a real story, not just plastic-fantastic.

A friendly talk and a cup of tea - even with no business. Very good guys. Look for their kind!
Being the snob I am, I  complained about the stupid guy in the water taxi, about the hilarious fee for internet usage and about the ignorant male receptionist who could not make easy decisions. I was also not pleased by the fact that it was too late or too early the two first times I ordered shisha. So I was the difficult one.
    Well, to tell the truth, even I softened up somewhat during my stay. A couple of the guests were really nice and we had some good conversations - enough for a russian guy to think I was hitting on his wife and daughter and for a sweet elderly German couple to share their stories.

confusing non believer

Before I leave, I also have a wonderful talk with Dalia and Fatima, working in the reception and everywhere else. They appear to be the only ones to speak good English in this place. I am told that the staff really wondered who I was, when I arrived. I had noticed a curiosity among them. My beard first brought them to believe I am Muslim, so they respected me.
    "No, I am not," I answered when a guy dared ask.
    That made them assume I was Israeli, and they stopped liking me.
    "No, I am not," I answered when another guy asked, and I added "I actually do not stick with a religion."
    That completely confused them. So without knowing it, I had been the talk of the hotel. But not only the hotel.

When the end is good, everything is good (Norwegian saying...)
The last night on the shuttleboat, a local passenger told me that he had told another guy on land about me. There are some nice fellows working in this place (especially my cap-man).
    "A Norwegian?" the other fellow had asked, not sure who he meant. "Well, I only saw one guy as you describe, he was talking with everybody..."
    "THAT is the guy!" my fellow passenger had said.

So, that was just a small report from the talkative non believing snob... ending his stay in Marina Lodge, a clean and fairly reasonable hotel in the artificial and half finished oddity of Port Ghalib.


Welcome to ... Cairo!