Day 11 - 'Free day' in Hurghada
A whole 'free day' - or, to be more precise, a day to faff around hopelessly and achieve absolutely nothing without the capable Kali around to whip us into shape. The catalogue of disasters went thus:
After a quick trip to the bank to withdraw some money and taking in the building site scenery along the way by taxi, we walked around the centre of Hurghada (if there is such a thing) and looked at every T-shirt Egypt has to offer but we didn't buy any. Then we went back to the first shop we looked in and looked at them all over again. Ian C bought one but he was the only one. We saw a bit of a scrap down an alleyway - a bunch of angry Arabs roughing each other up sounds pretty scary, and we did wonder whether the fight was over us - or for or custom, to be precise.
Then we went back to the hotel to sit around the pool and spend a further half hour not making any firm decision about what to do for the rest of the day. Finally we 'decided' to try the beach out. It was more like a private driveway than a beach, nicely bordered by more concrete and rubble. Andy agreed a price for use of a jet-ski for 25 minutes but after 15 minutes of waiting for it to return to shore, the price went up and Andy backed out of the deal.
Wandering some more
Then we went for a walk along the road to see if we could find something that passed for a beach. 15 minutes later we looked no nearer to finding the elusive strip of unadulterated sand and water so we made a decision: if when we got to Felfelas at the crest of the hill we still couldn't see a beach, we would head back to the hotel. And so it turned out - we caught a taxi back to El Tabia and found ourselves, once again, by the pool having achieved nothing and still wondering what to do.
We were rapidly running out of sun but made the most of what was left anyway. John and Rosemary went back down to the driveway, I mean beach, to do a spot of snorkelling; I declined their offer to come along thinking that there wouldn't be anything worth looking at down there. When they returned they told me that they had found some interesting reefs and that I should have gone. Yet more time wasted then.
The golden shot
A golden photo opportunity presented itself by the pool as a puppy belonging to the hotel owner was passed from person to person, and I quickly retrieved my camera from my bag to take a close up of Kali with said cute puppy.
While the sun went down, I moved steadily around the pool following the path of the sun, until me and John were sat as far back on the balcony as we could without falling behind into the next building site, just to steal those last few rays of sun. I soon found myself sat next to Kali and took the opportunity to talk to her about how she came to be a tour rep.
She told me that a few years ago she would never have imagined she'd be doing the job - she was a nutritional therapist in Exeter - but here she was now in Egypt dealing with the likes of Geoff. Or, on the other hand, Andy and me! I would love to do the same and take a year out but it would be a big gamble - career, mortgage etc and the fact that I think I could get too used to it and never want to return to a 'normal' 9-to-5 type life. Still, the seed has now been sown, so who knows when it might happen? I'm still young and have all my own teeth so there's time yet.
At this point I told Kali about the ever-increasing ramblings which I call my holiday diary and what I planned to do with it all when I get home. She said she'd like to see a finished copy. She's not the only one - I have now had three requests for my diary just so that others can remember what it is that they got up to! In return she promised to let me know where she ends up next, wherever her next contract takes her. Guatemala, Iceland, Malaysia - it could be anywhere with Explore!
In the evening we went to the Red Sea Restaurant in the centre of Hurghada. On the way down we sang a little song: The wheels on the bus go round and round, substituting our own new lyrics, such as The Edna on the bus goes "It wasn't like this in Jordan, It wasn't like this in Jordan ..." etc and "The Geoff on the bus goes winge, winge, winge ... winge, winge, winge ..." and so on.
Great food at the restaurant and good conversation - Kali to my left, Andy to my right and Geoff a few places down on the oldies' table. After the meal, the arguing over the cost of the meal started - begun by the oldies and led by good old (very old) reliable Geoff - leaving Kali to cover a 60 LE shortfall. Her famous positive streak took a short holiday at this juncture - Geoff's complaints would test the patience of Angels.
Afterwards, we all headed back to the Tabia and finished off in the disco - Ottowan's D.I.S.C.O. appeared to be its anthem - to knock back a few beers. For myself, it was a case of sink them as quick as I could so that I could bring myself to dance to a mix of records worse than my mum's John Denver collection. Almost. No dancing partner readily available, I lifted the decorative skeleton that was hanging on the wall (why it was there, nobody knows) and took it around the dance floor a few times. The dance floor was transparent - the manager told us he intended to fill it with water and use as an aquarium. Anyway, back to the skeleton - its arm kept on falling off and it wasn't much of a mover to be honest. Kali took over where 'Bones' left off and I'm pleased to report that her arm stayed in its socket at all times.