Tuesday, May 15, 2012

restless in safaga

I have a confession.

I told you earlier that coming to Egypt without seeing the Valley of Kings is like going to the United States without visiting Las Vegas.  Well, I did not get to the Valley of Kings.

One of the downsides of shore excursions is that ships often cannot get close to major tourist areas.  Hours of bus time fill the gap. 

But after several hours of bus time for my Cairo and Petra trips, I decided I was not interested in seven or eight hours of bus time to see Luxor and the Valley of the Kings.  I will leave those for my (as yet unscheduled) Nile river tour.

Safaga, the port where we docked, is known for its resorts outside of town.  Some of my fellow cruisers were headed there for some beach time.

That did not interest me.  After all, I seldom visit the beach where I live.  And it is just four blocks away.

Instead, I decided to take a look around the port area.  My first task was to find an internet café.  But I was told there was nothing within walking distance.

And there were no residential neighborhoods nearby for me to reconnoiter.  So, I wandered along the major road running parallel with the shore.

It is hardly fair to draw broad conclusions with so little evidence.  I learned that to my cost on my first one-day visit to San Miguel de Allende when I had absolutely no opinion.

But I did get some initial impressions.  Such as, the town has not dressed up for company.  Our cruise ship docked in the same area where the ferry from Saudi Arabia. docks.  This is the sight that greets visitors to the town.  

As you can see from the photograph of the port’s main street, this section of town is a veneer between the desert and the sea.  One block wide. It hardly qualifies as a Potemkin village.  And there is not much here other than a few shipping services and closed restaurants.

However, I did enjoy some of the signs.  Considering Egypt’s uncertain future, I am not certain what to make of this street sign.  Is the damage to the left or the right? 

Or this one.  Translation can be tricky.  This one looks as if it might have been translated by cousin Nela who visited London twio years ago.

What is “clemery?”  Whatever it is, it must be part of “mix food.”  Apparently mixed with fish, shrimps, lobster, meat, and chicken.

If I had ignored the graffiti of Cartagena, Safaga would not have provided an interesting alternative.  The wall around a new complex is covered with small murals.  Not quite in the primitive style.  Closer to seventh grade art project.

The most interesting art piece I encountered was at a storage area on the dock.  The wind had impaled plastic wrap on the protective barbed wire – preventing either one to function as designed.

So what can be made of the piece?  The barbed wire as tyranny trapping the free plastic?  Or the postmodern plastic overcoming the modern barbed technology?  Or the utter futility of all human endeavor?

Maybe it is nothing more than Christo minimalism.

I told you we shared the dock with the ferries from Saudi Arabia.  Watching their arrival was educational.

Plenty of cars.  Plenty of pedestrians.  Of all my photographs of the ferries, though, this is my favorite.  The observant Muslim woman is tugging along a girl dressed as modern as a girl her age can be.

A harbinger of the future?  Or just more proof that far too many of us are prisoners of our own history?  Including me.

All I know is I have left Egypt behind to sail amongst the pirates.  But I am looking forward to returning to Egypt to see the attractions of Upper Egypt.


Andean said...

I have never been to Las Vegas. Am I missing much besides the casinos, which I don't care for, and shows -- of all nature's. Of course NYC covers all these grounds, I think anyway. And Atlantic City, NJ covers the rest.

Irene said...

The plastic bags on the barbed wire...if you kind of squint your eyes and look at it a little sideways it could be a flock of birds against the blue sky.

Andean said...

:) that's a lot of squinting...

Steve Cotton said...

 There is a spirit in Las Vegas that exists nowhere else -- for better or worse.

Steve Cotton said...

The very essence of art.  Your squint theory was propounded by my good friend Bud Johnson.  He was convinced Van Gogh merely needed glasses.

Steve Cotton said...

 Not so much.  Probably a better metaphor than "toilet paper caught in the sewer."

Andean said...

Spirit! Rather go to Valley of the Kings...

Felipe Zapata said...

The big black blob holding hands with the child is a classic illustration of the ridiculousness of some aspects of the Muslim religion. Many, perhaps most, Westerners -- and likely many Muslims to boot -- do not know that covering women from head to toe is not in the Koran. It's something the Muslim menfolk dreamed up all by themselves.

Steve Cotton said...

I was thinking about this very point while eating lunch in the snazzy Dubai Mall.  I could have been sitting in southern California based on the surroundings.

Except for the local Dubai men and women.  Both sexes wore the traditional Arab dress.  As our Dutch guide pointed out, the women show their style through their shoes.  She was correct.  I saw some of the most amazing shoes on female feet.  And, to a degree, the women reminded me of our pioneer women with their bonnets and full blouses and skirts. 

And none of them paid any attention to the almost-naked tourists or the stylish Filipinas walking by.

Steve Cotton said...

 Given the choice, so would I.  And will.  I hope.