Sing: Wash, O God, Our Sons & Daughters, UMH 605
After our tour of Saint Catherine’s Monastery we re-boarded our bus and headed back the way we had come last night – but this time we get to see the scenery. We cannot go west from Saint Catherine because the Egyptian Army has closed that road for security reasons. So we are headed east and then south to the resort city of Sharm el Sheikh. My understanding of this “resort city” is that normal Egyptians do not get to live here or visit here unless they can come as paying vacationers. The workers of this “resort city” are bused in and out. The city itself was fairly clean but as we drove toward the city the desert was filled with plastic trash for miles. On Halloween of 2015 I was shocked to hear of a Russian charter flight that was blown up over the Sinai Peninsula after leaving Sharm el Sheikh International Airport.
We drove past most of the city and approached it from the west. It is quite an amazing contrast to drive through the desert for several hours and then suddenly come upon the beautiful blue water of the Red Sea. The effect on me was to give me a strong desire to get into that water! I will get my chance this afternoon.
Just north of the main civil harbor is a beautiful little bay called Sharm el-Moiya. This bay is about eight or nine miles up the Gulf of Aqaba coast from the southern tip of the Sinai Peninsula. Our tour guide had arranged a glass-bottom-boat ride for us. We walked out on a plastic pier that seemed to be built like a child’s toy with interlocking parts.
After we boarded the boat and headed toward the entrance to the bay the sandy bottom began dropping below us. At about half a mile out the bottom rose again in coral reefs. We cruised around the entrance to the bay watching many different kinds of fish and seeing many different types of coral. The colors were amazing and everyone was mesmerized. After about an hour we headed in and our host took us topside to enjoy the sunny day – it seems we have left the cold weather in the mountains.
After enjoying lunch we checked into our hotel, the Veraclub Queen Sharm. We have a free afternoon and I plan on going swimming in the Red Sea! This hotel has a pool deck and a nice beach from which we can see the islands of the Strait of Tiran, the mouth of the Gulf of Aqaba. There is a floating plastic pier which allows you to get beyond the shallow water to where the reef ends and the bottom drops precipitously. The bottom goes from being right there, two or three feet down, to not visible!
I had a partner from our group and we jumped right in – it was cold, but not Jordan River cold. We adjusted to the temperature quickly and simply enjoyed floating there and letting the water massage away a morning of bus-riding. We noticed that the water seemed to be more salty than Texas Gulf Coast or Virginia Beach water. I hypothesized that this was due to the fact that there were no major (or minor) inflows of fresh water anywhere near us – unlike most of America’s coastline. This is another good way to end a day of touring!