We had finally made it to Hurghada and it was time to explore! Most of the group wanted to go hit the beach, but all I wanted after months of no internet, was some wifi and some stamps. A couple of the girls from the group, Marisa and Elena decided to join me in this quest, promising the meet the rest of the group at the beach later on in the day. After an unsuccessful attempt to buy stamps, where the shop owner tried to sell them to us for 10 times the price and wouldn’t even settle for us paying double what was printed on the stamp, we decided to switch our mission to wifi and cold beverages.
It was in a little café (with wifi AND air conditioning) that we discovered fresh mint lemonade while we spent the next hour in silence, hunched over ipods and iphones. It was amazing.
Now that we were refreshed and our internet addictions taken care of, it was time to start scavenging for food. We decided to walk off the main road to see if we could find something delicious and not Greek or Italian or fast food from the US.
Though there were places open here and there, we went with a shop that had the most people in it. In fact, it was the only shop with people in it. We couldn’t read what was on the hanging in front of the place, but there was a guy on the side of the store frying up some falafel and we couldn’t resist some fresh falafel.
This small establishment had a counter (that was way too tall for me to speak over) so we went over to the side window, where the friendly guy behind the counter took our order and animatedly cutting a slit into a piece of pita bread, squishing the falafel pieces, tossing together the ingredients and putting the whole thing together. Once in a while he’d look over to make sure we were still taking pictures. Show off.
He also let us try some pickles to see if we wanted some with our falafel. They were spicier but less crunchy than I was used to, but made a great side to the falafels. It was 1 Egyptian Pound (approx 0.15USD) total. There wasn’t as much filling in them as, say, the ones that I used to get near my college campus and the ones I often see in NYC, but they were much easier to eat. It was also interesting that the pita was slit in the middle and then stuffed on both sides. Since they were so thin, we just ate both together. Like the gluttons that we are. OK, that I am. I probably shouldn’t rope the other two into this.
We got them to go and took them to the beach so we could meet up with our friends. After some swimming, sunbathing and napping, we headed back out to see what the rest of the town had to offer. Random fact: next to the shops selling hookahs, spices, sunglasses and leather goods, were a couple HUGE towel stores. It might have made sense if they were beach towels, but they were selling stacks and stacks of bath towels.
Near this store, we had another good food find- a shwarma stand right outside of a pizza restaurant. We went for the small, which was still huge! And amazing. Toasted bread with slow cooked meat, with veggies cooking underneath to catch all the juice dripping down from the meat.
We went back to the café from the morning for coffee and some more wifi. It was here that we ran into a couple guys from our group and the 5 of us wandered off in search of a good place to find the sunset. In our minds, we romantically fantasized about watching the sunset over the mosque or, better yet, the desert. But alas, things don’t always go as planned and the further we walked, the more we realized that we were simply going further into the housing area, where we’d be surrounded by tall buildings and unable to see anything at all.
We ended our stay in Hurghada just as it had begun, with some wifi (though now that it was cooler, we opted for an outdoor café) and fresh mint lemonade.
After all we went through on the way here, I have no idea why, but we decided to call the taxi driver who had driven us to Hurghada to drive us back. We were expecting two vans to come, but only one showed up. It was dark already and we had a specific time that we had to be back on the boat so we piled in, managing to fit 14 people in a van that had fit 7 each on the way there.
Again, after getting into a long stretch of desert, the driver pulled to the side of the road, but this time, our friend from Jordan told us that he was saying for us to get out. To get out and look up.
We stumbled over soft mounds of sand, into the dark desert and did just that. The sight was breathtaking. It was as if the whole universe had opened itself up to us. Stars were crammed into the sky, all the way to the horizon. I desperately wanted to take a photo, but I knew I didn’t need to. I can still feel the soft sand under my feet and my cheeks hurting from smiling so wide.