There’s only one thing to do when your Mum turns 50 and its been a quarter of a century since this photo was taken in Monaco…reunite on another holiday. March birthdays tend to limit hot destinations within reach of shorthaul flights in Europe, so Egypt was the natural choice. Despite having been to Sharm el Sheikh before it was easy breaking my vow of returning to destinations already visited thanks to the lure of off season diving in the Red Sea.
The only drawback about diving at this time is the water temperature, I was wearing a shorty over a long wetsuit and still managed to freeze. No amount of tea personally delivered to a cabana, whilst your wrapped in towels laying in the direct sun will warm your bones. The biggest thing to overcome after a long absence from diving was thew shock news that a swimmer had died from a shark attack nearby just days before. It was impossible to not take advantage of the lack of tourists and take some quiet dives. This culminated in a special boat trip on Mum’s birthday where my auntie bravely jumped in to the blue to see the reefs I had been raving about. It felt amazing to be back with the bubbles after over a year of drought since Honduras.
Despite being in the lap of luxury and with a busy set of dives on a week trip, I couldn’t resist the temptation to fly to Luxor to see the Valley of the Kings. The childhood travel explorer in me could not pass the opportunity given that I still use the hieroglyph bookmark my auntie brought back as souvenir 20 years ago. The sites were absolutely mind boggling, and given that there were hardly any tourists, having the time to fully explore with space around you was heaven. It still breaks my heart that Egypt has to prostitute itself to exploit its natural wonders with very little protection, knowing full well that future generations won’t have the privilege to see any of it. This makes me feel all the luckier to have such a golden chance.
Overall I’m certainly not one for all inclusive resort holidays, but certain life events call for this kind of treatment. Egypt’s tourist industry is on its knees, which is a crying shame given the millennia of fascinating cultural heritage it has to offer. Given the bonus of amazing dive sites and visibility, I’m sure I’ll be back again.