Home Travelogue DAHAB Life

DAHAB Life

Dahab. My home. Well, not really my home (I'm from Germany), but I have been coming to Dahab for more than 10 years and it has become my second home. I love the diving here and the surrounding desert. There is a great mix of activities and many places to chill out. But what I like most are the people, their kindness and calmness, their way of living. I have been to many places in Egypt, but Dahab has its own lifestyle. When I arrive here, I unwind and settle into a whole different way of living.
I know what you're thinking - it's because I'm on holiday. But I'm not on holiday this time. I have arranged my work in Germany so that I can stay six months in Dahab and six months in Germany… which means I have to work in Dahab as well! It's a different kind of work of course, but not completely different.

- In Germany, I work as a Social and Adventure Pursuits Worker with disabled people - and my great passion is diving. Not surprisingly, I connected my passion with my work by becoming a Disabled-Diving-Instructor.

- In Dahab, I work as a diving instructor and my great passion is teaching people how to buddy a disabled person!

Together with other divers, I started a unique project - an integrated diving group called “the water fleas”. Here, mentally handicapped people have the opportunity to take part in diver training. Over the years, I have gained a lot of experience and found out that diving offers excellent possibilities for therapy and rehabilitation. This is one of the reasons I'm in Dahab now. I want to teach more people how to buddy a disabled person, and start bringing disabled people to Dahab so that they can dive in the Red Sea and experience the unique adventures that abound in the Sinai. First things first though, I have to find a place to live…

A place to stay: Dahab has an incredible mix of places to stay. Everything from simple Bedouin camps to small seaside hotels and 5 star resorts.

Most of the resorts are in Dahab City (the Medina), the new part of Dahab built around the Laguna. It's a good place for the resorts as the Laguna is mainly sandy beach and perfect for family holidays.
 
A 10 minute taxi ride north takes you to Mashraba. The beach here is quiet with one hotel or restaurant following another. In the back, is the main shopping area - also a good place to find cheaper restaurants frequented by locals. The street here used to be full of cars, but they're making this into a walking area only now, which will be much nicer for everyone.

A 5 minute walk north takes you to Masbat - this is where I'm really at home. Masbat is the old Dahab - where it all started, and where the life still is. Beach side cafes, boutique shops, Bedouin camps, dive centers and safari companies. My home has always been Crazy Camel Camp. This is one of Dahab's original camps, just behind the beach. You'll find AmAhmed there, always ready to welcome you with a cup of sweet Bedouin tea. People come and go all day long, so it's a nice place to hang out when you're travelling on your own. Now that I'm staying for six months though, I've decided to rent a house. For this, I need to head a bit further north to Meliel and Assalah - the Bedouin village.

Some of the instructors and guides stay in camps, but increasingly they're moving into the Bedouin village. It's nice to have a kitchen of your own, and a garden to sit in and watch the stars. After two days, a friend and I find a nice house in Meliel rented by a Bedouin family. Perfect. Now for something to eat!

A place to eat: The restaurants here are surprisingly cheap, so we eat out a lot of the time. It's fun to introduce visitors to all your favourite places, especially the ones they wouldn't find on their own.

My favourite is 'the chicken place', which is right next to 'the fish place' in Mashraba. I think these places might even have names now, but none of us seem to know them by anything other then 'the chicken or fish place'.

Around noon, Ali the Koshary man walks up and down the beach. For just 3LE, you get tasty healthy food, delivered right to your club. Amazing. And if you have room, he also does nice rice pudding!

You can top and tail the day with food from Tarboush. In the morning, he uses his bicycle to deliver Dahab's best Egyptian breakfast (you have to phone to order it - anyone can give you the number!). In the evening, he does a set menu from a small restaurant attached to his house in the back of Masbat.

Here are a few other nice places: the German bakery for breakfast (El Fanar), Eel Garden for lunch after a dive, Lockbahtita for a really special dinner, Eldorado for pizza and pasta and Saad restaurant behind the big Ghazhalla supermarket for Mashi (take-away only).  If you're staying in an apartment, check out Assallah market. There are nice fruits and vegetables here, and prices are less than Mashraba or Masbat.    

A place to work: People work here as freelancers or permanent staff for the diving centers. I found my place at Desert Divers. I have known Said, the owner, since my first stay in Dahab. Back then, he was managing another dive center, but now he has his own place, Desert Divers. This is a very special place. Even as a guest, I have always felt at home here, and I am proud to be allowed to work amongst his amazing team.

A place to play: So what about my time off? I'm lucky. I work around a full range of diving and desert adventures - so time off is almost not necessary! My big new thing is climbing, so when I'm not diving I take a day out with the climbers. The climbing here is amazing, and still in its infancy. For day trips or overnight, we go to the sports climbing and bouldering areas in Wadi Gnai. This is just 30 minutes drive from Masbat, but it feels like you're deep in the desert. The silence here will amaze you. It makes the climbing very special. The other great thing about climbing days is the food. No sooner are the ropes out of the car than Saad, our driver, is making a fire for the Bedouin tea. One tea and we're set to climb! Later in the day, he does a nice Bedouin lunch - vegetables with “lebe” (a thick Bedouin bread, cooked in the ashes of the fire). Use the bread to slop up the cooked vegetables and you're ready for the rest of the day!   

A place for a drink: In Dahab, there are many different ways to spend your evenings. Whether you want to go out dancing, have a quiet drink or just relax after the day's adventure, there is always somewhere to go. Locals often organise parties (current flyers can be found all the way down the promenade). Being German, of course I like a beer every now and then!

In front of Crazy Camel Camp, you find the Tota Bar and Crazy House. Tota (from the outside it looks like a boat) is the oldest bar in Dahab and is full of things to do. You can dance, play pool and ping pong, or just have a drink and something to eat. In the back, there is room to sit around the campfire, relax, talk a bit or watch a movie. Most of the holiday-makers and local staff tend to meet here.

Crazy House is right beside Total, and the best thing about it is the Terrace. I like to site here and relax, have a drink and read a book or simply watch the people go by.

Blue Beach is up towards Eel Garden and they have the best steak in Dahab (sometimes I need this - you can't always eat chicken or fish!). It's also a meeting point for the staff here in Dahab. They have all the sports channels on TV, English pub style. During the World Cup, there was a party for every game!

A place to relax: Sometimes I like to get away for a night or two. And the surrounding desert mountains give you many places to be alone and re-charge your batteries.

One of my favourite places, which I come to time and time again, is Aid and Mundy's place. This is a Bedouin restaurant just after the Canyon. During the day, it's the best place to relax in between dives (much nicer - and much cheaper - than the busy places at the Blue Hole). In the evening, it's very quiet - you can relax around the fire or watch the moon rise by candle light. Aid and Mundy make fantastic Bedouin dinners, and if you want they will also arrange a traditional Bedouin music group. I like to do this for birthdays, or for a really special last night with some of my customers.

When I want to get away for a bit longer, I take a taxi to the Blue Hole and walk for two hours along the beach to Ras Abu Galoum. Ras Abu Galoum is a small Bedouin fishing settlement and protected area north of Dahab. I rent a small hut, called a Hosha, from one of the families and lose myself for a few days. Here I can be alone, have time to think, read and re-energize. The Bedouin people here also make great food - they make amazing fresh lunches, and it's wonderful every time. I love freshly caught fish, cooked on the open fire.

So, what about Dahab for disabled people?  The beach promenade that stretches from the Islands in the Laguna all the along Mashraba and Masbat beaches to Eel Garden, make this a very easy place for wheel chair access. And the relaxed and kind ways of the locals, make it a really warm and welcoming place for people with mental disabilities.  

Shore diving presents some tricky problems, but nothing that can't be overcome with a little imagination. Most importantly, because so many dive guides and instructors train here, there is a great opportunity for me to pass on what I know about diving with disabled people.

I hope this gives you a little picture of what life is like in Dahab, and that the information is useful. I'm here for a little, or most likely a lot, longer - so I hope to see you around!

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