I had the most awfully strenuous morning yesterday: I had to struggle out of my deep bed, leopard-crawl down to the Intercontinental The Palace Port Ghalib Resort’s Olive Restaurant, laboriously munch through a boiled egg, toast, fruit and coffee, then return all the way to my room to painstakingly apply layer upon layer of sun block, then trek all the way down to the beach and march along the entire jetty. With the last ounce of my strength, I barely managed to pull on my snorkel and flippers, fling myself off the jetty into the blue waters below and make friends with the fish. Oh, what torture one has to endure just to deliver entertaining copy and inspiring fashion photos to COSMO readers…
Yes, it’s remarkable how a delightfully torturous Egyptian adventure can help a headless chick(en) all the way from Johannesburg rediscover her playful sense of humour and every single idle bone in her body. This has got to stop! But not until I’ve snorkelled at least seven more times.
I’ve never seen such an incredible array of fish so close to shore. There are the elongated trumpetfish whose tiny fins make a dash to safety near-impossible, the yellow goatfish with their beards, the cheeky orange and white clownfish, the multi-coloured angelfish and the coral in burst of purple, red and yellow.
‘Barracuda’ (aka Mabrouk Abdel Fattah), the lifeguard, also promised that we would see turtles and dolphins from the jetty before we returned home – and maybe even manta rays and sting rays. That’s the beauty of Marsa Alam, you don’t even need a scuba diving course under your belt to experience the rich diversity of the Red Sea’s oceanic life (and the incongruous sight of devout local Muslim women snorkelling fully clad in black trousers, long-sleeved shirts and scarves!).
But you do need to preserve your skin, so it’s always best to snorkel before 11am and after 4pm here. In fact, most of us spend the early (and not-so-early) afternoons holed up in our chilled rooms working on blogs, catching up on e-mails, watching Egypt’s version of MTV Melody Tunes (‘All Engleeesh all the time’) on our plasma TVs, or paying a visit to Club Duvet (DJ Pillow plays guaranteed killer tunes every afternoon at about 2pm).
Another side effect of the blistering heat and the change in environment for us Egyptian first-timers is the inevitable traveller’s tummy bug. Yup, unfortunately most of our team have come down with it and have been sharing Imodium, Valoid and Rehidrat liberally amongst ourselves – thankfully I can report though, that the messy business is under control. Hey, what is heaven without a bit of hell? And at least now we won’t be going back home fat, just happy… Don’t hate me?