Sunday, 20 January 2013

The Modern Oasis

During Christmas and New Year Season I needed my body to be heated up. The travelling plans that I had intended did not work out. In the last minute I ended up in Sharm El Sheikh on the southern tip of Sinai Desert.

Il Mercato, Hadaba, Sharm El Sheikh
A rather strange place. Here everything is plastic. It has all been build for touristical purposes. The Egyptians you will meet have travelled far away to come to work here in the tourist industry. Before it was only a small fishing village, but it has long been evaporated by hotels and resorts.

A white man enjoying life? - Behind one of many all inclusive resorts
I will not say that I regretted to have gone. It turned out to be a very interesting experience. All of Sharm El Sheikh is a modern oasis. An oasis is an artificial place made with a huge use of water and money. So everything cost something. You cannot just wander around. Every piece of beach is property of somebody and they will charge you to enter. This is the reason for the all inclusive vacation concept. You buy a vacation in a resort with everyhting included - and that is where you will stay. Expext maybe me and a few other weirdos.

Those of us who insist on wandering around will have a real hard time in Sharm El Sheikh, but off course it is possible. And it is also possible to find deserted places - here in the desert, like it is everywhere else.

During my stay in Sharm El Sheikh I was thinking about what the point is of having vacation in such an artificial place. I had a lot of time to think, because I had no urge to talk to anybody or explore anything. I tried to avoid any entertainment what so ever. After all I experience so much at home. When I am off and away I want nothing. Just my little selfish me and my simple thoughts.

Suddenly it stroke me that we want to have vacation in a place like Sharm El Sheikh because our vacation is supoosed to be as far away from reality as possible - in order for us NOT the feel anything.

I am still in Africa, though what see does not resemble my life in Africa during the last 10 years. But in many ways North Africa is closer linked to the Middle East. Everything here is very effective and straight forward. One evening I am sitting in the area called Old Market to have a cup of coffee. The waiter is running while serving his costumers. Actually this place reminds me a lot more of Mexico than anywhere else. Here is the same self-esteem that recall from travelling down Baja California peninsula in the 1980es. Is there a connection between arab and latino men?

Omar tried to make me pay him for the pictures he begged me to take of him!
Det helt besynderlige var at lige pludselig var der ingenting. Hvor der ikke endnu er bygget hoteller, er der blot rå ørken. Der er intet gjort for at skjule det eller gøre byen til et sammenhængende hele. På kryds og tværs løber 4-sporede veje. De forbinder de forskellige dele af byen. I baggrunden ser man overalt de golde og røde bjerge som strækker sig hundrede af kilometer mod nord. Jeg befinder mig ca. 100 km. syd for det sted hvor Moses engang pulveriserede stentavlerne med de ti bud. Det er en ørken uden lov og ret, mens der langs kysten udstilles stor rigdom. Indimellem resorts og hoteller ligger også rige egypteres residenser - heriblandt tidligere præsidents Mubaraks villa.

Mit eget hotel er sært på sig egen måde. De fleste er her (som overalt i Sharm El Sheikh) på en all inclusive package. Hver aften er der underholdning. En gruppe af artister (som de kalder sig) er ansat til at varetage underholdningen. Pigerne danser mavedans og drengene laver ildshow. Det samme hver eneste aften. Om dagen går især pigerne rundt og snakker med hotellets gæster ved swimmingpoolen, som de perfekte værtinder.

I will let you wonder about the range of services she and her colleagues are offering the guests by the pool. Under other circumstances I might have investigated the matter myself, but I must have been extremely exhausted, because for a full week I hardly spoke to anybody - or maybe I found it all so imaginary that other people did not really exist in flesh and blood from my point of view.

But real life have a nasty tendency to crush into your phantasy in the most brutal way - and I think there is nothing artificial about it - unfortunately.

Another and a lot more pleasant reality check was the evening when I was dining in Restaurant Abu El Sid located in the party area of Sharm El Sheikh, Naama Bay. First of all the food was delicious, but the service was exquisite - outstanding and excellent. Almost as good as in Tamarind Restaurant in Nairobi, which is a place I always look forward to return to. Apparently Abu El Sid has a branch in Cairo, and this reason enough to go to Cairo.

Evening time in Naama Bay, Sharm El Sheikh

Bon appetit.

Thursday, 17 January 2013

2003-13: My first 10 years with Africa..

Today is my 10 years anniversary. Exactly 10 years ago I came to Africa for the first time. In Arusha I was looking up in the Tanzanian sky. I saw millions of stars. Cristal clear. I think that I can say that I had never before seen such beautiful sight. It was as if I had a close up of the Milky way. I was night aften night amased because it was never cloudy - always clear. BUT there was none of stars that I could remember from my childhood. Not a single star formation. Everything was alian. Nothing at all ressembled my previous life.

This vision of the Tanzanian sky has become a symbol of my African experience. I was a child again and had to start over. I had to gain new experiences and skills. In the beginning it was like a detective novel, but during the years I accepted what I had already read in Kapuscinskis books: That Africa will never become a habit. She will always be a condition, and therefor you cannot understand Africa but you can be Africa. In the same way as you let the sun heat you body up and feel the sweat come to the surface and evaporate from your skin. You do not do anything. There is nothing to do about it. We are one substance you, me and the sun.

I have met so many men and women in Africa. They taught me so much about life - and about myself. My gratitude will be eternal. The kindness and graciousness have been extraordinary. I have never really found a way to say thank you - other than trying to show respect and keep on coming back. I am sure I will do exactly that as long as I am able to move.

Thank you is a small word, but it is nevertheless a word that you will have to used again and again. So let me also used it again here.

Mwebale nnyo - mwebale dalla.
Thank you so much - really thank you very much.