Swine Flu Break '09: Hurghada, Dahab, and some actual Swine Flu

Wow, I have so much catching up to do!!!
After 8 days of classes here at AUC, the Egyptian government cancelled school for two and half weeks due to the imminent Swine Flu threat here in Egypt. This, of course, sent waves of excitement through campus and within a few hours of the announcement the entire campus had cleared out. So the Group all went their separate ways on adventures around the Middle East, and Goose, Katie, Dana, Dooler, Sherief and I hopped on a bus for a seven hour ride to Hurghada on the Red Sea. Hurghada is a tiny little town full of incredibly annoying Russian tourists. However, we had a hotel with a beautiful view of the Red Sea, and we quickly made friends with the owner of the bar there, Lotfy. The first day there we took it easy and napped, hung out in the ocean, and ate delicious calamari tagine and seafood soup. That night, we tossed back more than a few drinks with Lotfy, who decided he liked my boyfriend [yes, boyfriend, Goose and I are officially dating and have been for nearly a month…really, who is surprised? No one? Figured.] so much that we wanted him to work there. So Goose spent the rest of the night mixing Long Island Ice Teas and hooking us up with free special shisha. The next morning, we all got up and jumped into the back of a mini van which drove us deep into the desert, bouncing over the dunes violently. We climbed a mountain, where I got third degree burns on my feet from the scorching sand, and then arrived at a little camp where we had a fun-filled day of just about everything. In a five hour period I rode a camel, donkey, horse, dune buggy, ATV, giant tortoise, and held chameleons, venomous snakes, goats, turtles and crocodiles, kissed a camel, played with ostriches, got really dirty, and all around had a great time. After that we went to a Fire Party where we ate delicious food, watched belly-dancers, and marveled as Goose was pulled up onto the stage by "The Devil" and made to swallow [or attempt to swallow] a sword. Good news: his gag reflex is alive and well.
Finally, we watched the sun set from the top of a mountain, saw Jupiter through a telescope, took our van out to a deserted patch of sand, and laid there looking at the stars. Lying in the sand with my new friends/family, I couldn’t help but think of Morocco and my ISA friends, and I couldn’t help but think of how different my life here is than I imagined it would be. I love it, but it's not what I was expecting.
Then we set off through the desert again, cranking Backstreet Boys tunes the entire way. We arrived back at the hotel where Lotfy greeted us with Egyptian beer, and happily passed out.
The next day we committed the entire day to eating delicious food and lounging on the beach. That night, we had a fake and very drunken birthday party for Sherief aka Alfastar in Hard Rock Café Hurghada, where we gorged ourselves on American food and expensive cocktails [have I mentioned I love being able to legally buy alcohol? I've only been carded once. Ohebu al-Misr!] Then we somehow found our way back to the hotel, where we drank even more and smoked Lotfy's delicious, free shisha.
The next morning we all unhappily piled into a bus at 8am, me still wearing my makeup from the night before and chugging water to cure my hangover. An hour later we were boarding a yacht and laying out on the deck, overlooking water so clear and blue you could see fifty feet down to the coral below. We spent the day lounging on the boat, swimming in the water, discovering strange aquatic life [including a slug/crab creature with one scary arm ending in a hook which lived in an innocent looking was terrifying], watching Sherief try and fight Goose, and jumping thirty feet from the top of the yacht into the clear turquoise water below. That night we took a bus back from Hurghada, and jumped on a taxi back to campus, which promptly got a flat tire right in front of a military post. The guards, needless to say, were not thrilled, suspecting us to be American terrorists. However, upon meeting Katie, the flirt of the group, they were charmed and brought us water to quench our thirst as we waited for nearly an hour for our tire to be repaired. We spent the next few days recuperating in Cairo, where I unfortunately came down with the Piggy Flu.
After being nursed back to health by my amazing friends and incredible boyfriend, Katie, Anna, Goose and I took a nine hour bus ride to Dahab on the Sinai Peninsula [which was made longer due to the fact that the bus blew a tire around 3 am]. We arrived, checked into Dolphin Camp, where we stayed in bamboo beach bungalows with a view of the water, and Saudi Arabia across it, and had a delicious breakfast at Dolphin Café. We spent the rest of the day basking in the sun on our private beach, and enjoyed incredible food, shisha, beer, free rum, and great company all night. The next day we set out to go swimming and ended up lounging on an abandoned beach called Lagouna, and ate more delicious food. We ended up at a bar called Yalla run by Australian expats around our age, where we got thoroughly drunk. Our last day was filled with lots of shopping and haggling, some bus confusion, and finally an hour bus ride to Sharm el Sheikh, and a six hour ride from there to Nasr City, where we hailed a cab which took us to the wrong AUC campus, ended up eating a 5am dinner at McDonalds, and waited two hours for an AUC bus to arrive to take us back to campus. It was an adventure, to say the least. I realize my account from Dahab is sort of lacking, but we didn't do much. We just relaxed and enjoyed the atmosphere, the food, and each other. Dahab is a lot less touristy than other towns on the Sinai, and is a huge hippie town filled with expats and long-haired, shirtless backpackers. Needless to say, Goose and I fit in well and loved it there. There were rumors circulating the entire time that AUC was not going to reopen this semester, and the four of us seriously considered renting a $100/month, one bedroom apartment and getting part-time jobs at a bar there. One of my new life goals is to retire there after I'm done gallivanting, open a bar, smoke lots of shisha, drink lots of beer, and bask in the awesomeness.
Now the entire Group has been reunited in Cairo, and classes resume tomorrow [supposedly]. In light of this fact, I am off to get some homework done for my 8:30 tomorrow. I will be updating this blog more regularly now that I'm firmly back in Cairo for a while. Check out my pictures on Facebook!
Salaam wa hubb,

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