When travelling we usually stay in basic places, and as the journey comes to an end, where most people would splurge and get some fancy hotel we find ourselves in a Bedouin home, no tv, no pool, just a few beds in a room, a window, a fan and a shower. We actually turned up and found a decent looking hotel, and as my bed vibrated via the bass around 11pm I went and confronted the owner who assured me it would be off by midnight. He claimed he owned the reggae bar behind and would make sure. By 2am it was still rocking the whole building and so after an argument with the owner we bailed.
Walking through the single street of Dahab in darkness, with all our gear, the kids were exhausted. It’s not the first time I had stropped and packed up at 2am, and it probably wont be the last. Yet as we walked on the hunt of somewhere open quickly, a few things became apparent – First of all no where was open, secondly no where even looked like we could make it be open, and thirdly Abi needed a wee.
We had walked right up the promenade and the only sound was the sea hitting the shore, the only light was the occasional lamp that had been left on in a waterside restaurant. I had already sussed we could seep in one of the many open restaurants if we needed to. Unlike in the UK, had we been busted a smile and a purchased breakfast would easily have quelled the situation, most likely we would not even have been bothered.
“Dad, I need a wee” said a very tired Abi. “Go by the wall” I advised. She hitched up her dress like she has done so many times before and did her thing whilst me and Charlie waited. “Dad, a poo has come out” I looked at her, squatted down, in near darkness on an abandoned sea front street in Dahab and sighed.
We searched for a hotel for ages, it seemed like everywhere was completely abandoned. Eventually we sneaked down a little sandy lane and I found a place called ‘fighting Kangaroo’ In complete darkness I noticed a door open and with the torch on my phone started mooching about trying to find a sleeping body. It was empty, but a curtain covered a door and I was just about to pull it back when a guy came out rubbing his eyes. He wasn’t arsed in the slightest and within no time, we had a room for a few quid per night.
That little snippet might seem insignificant, but it represents us and how we travel. Ok, we don’t always bail hotels during the night, but we are simple, basic and manage, or cope whatever the issue. And though how we are comes with experience and confidence, a large part of it come from knowing how people are. Recognising people and appreciating their way of life, and really, in Egypt, just as in India, or indeed Asia itself people exist to provide. Everyone want’s better from life, but Europe, like the US is quite unique in that people feel they have failed at life if they don’t have a sports car and mansion by the time they are 30. Though there are exceptions of course, by and large the rest of the world deem themselves successful if they can provide a meal of an evening. They don’t spend their lives dreaming of flying down the M1 in a Ferrari, or take a photograph with the sole reason of posting it on Facebook so everyone can look and go ‘wow, your kid went to a park’ In the UK we live in a country where seemingly everything done, is done to show others you have done it. I mean, remember the days we took photographs and put them in an album to show the odd person? Now, everything is done to better someone else, or ourselves. Resentment runs deep, really deep and from other peoples success some people find hatred, distrust, and malicious thoughts. And we really are the exception, the rest of the world outside the Western clique exists to exist. They find happiness despite the every day struggle. They are proud of the simplest of things – They work to eat and eat to enjoy and they laugh despite it all. The rest of the world is made up of simple people, who don’t need a fifty inch widescreen tv but would rather sit and watch the newest addition to the family try and walk. People that live by “never mind” crazy drivers that don’t get angry, a public service industry that is so slow it is infuriating, a climate that is unforgiving, and a government that couldn’t care less if it tried. But the people, the very heart of the country and their lives are so simple, yet so amazing, and they are so happy.
Our last night of the trip was spent laid on cushions underneath a palm tree looking up to the starry sky. We talked about what we had done and how pizza at Lena’s place in Athens seemed months ago, we spoke about the great parts of the trip, the boring parts, the fails, and we found ourselves laughing as we reminisced. I wrote earlier in the trip about how this year had been the easiest of all and it still stands. The kids have really pulled together and been an absolute asset and it hasn’t been a case of me and them, but us.
As I write this I am sat under the same palm tree, with a kitten trying to eat my toe listening to Tracy Chapman. Charlie and Abi are dancing on the rugs placed on the sand, and believe me, they can dance like I can do Yoga – And I can’t even touch my toes! But we have carried this energy with us from the very start. From the monsoons in India, the mountains, the altitude, the deserts. From the Himalayas to the plains of Northern India, to Delhi and back and through the Emirates to Africa. From motorcycles and paragliding to Camels and treks and waterfalls. I set the bar high this year and as Charlie just did the sideways crab dance past me trying to put me off I have to wrap this up. The epic ending I usually come up with has been replaced with a promise between the kids and I of returning to this very palm tree in twenty years. Of laying on the ground and remembering that it brought us not just laughter, smiles of reminiscence but was symbolic of who we are, what we we love and why we travel. The simple things in life are what we remember the most and as Abi now tries to do the dance from ‘thriller’ I thank everyone for following us – but there is a party under a palm tree, by the Red sea, on the last night of an 8 week journey I need to attend 🙂