April 4, 2010

Nuweiba again.

The boat has gone. We stand in the dust-blown port, the sun settling behind the biblical desert mountains, and wonder what to do. Questions first- we ask the moustache’d men when the next boat is, and they tell us

No Problem, tomorrow morning, seven o’ clock. Well, maybe nine o’ clock. Eight o’clock, nine o’clock.

What time does the ticket office open?

No Problem, nine o’ clock.

After a moment of blind confusion we work out he means nine o’ clock tonight. A few hours ‘til then, so we walk the arse-end town to find a place to stay the night. Cats are everywhere, and tourists are conspicuously absent. Two men lay out packs of socks and second-hand shoes, and call out for customers. One side of the  street buzzes with outdoor teashops, men smoking nargileh pipes under trees while TV’s blare sports.

We find the only hotel in miles; it’s clean and costs four quid for a room with two beds. Back to the buzz, where we drink tea and eat a mountain of rice and delicious fish, closely watched by the other customers. A gang of cats gathers, filthy and elegant. They hatch plots on our bones. An old VHS of WWF wrestling matches plays fuzzy and loud on the TV. The Undertaker battles Kurt Angle, and both battle the Premier League cheers from next door. A surreal scene; sitting on the edge of the Sinai Peninsular, under the desert stars, with a pantomime parade of American Supermen grappling each other in a box. We pay up and go to get our tickets for the morning- an early start.

Our room is hot, and the ceiling fan barely stirs the air, but we sleep like corpses nonetheless.

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