Geographically, Egypt has it all: Sahara Desert, Nile Valley and Red Sea.
The stunning landscapes of the Pyramids of Giza, the Valley of the Kings and the metropolis of Cairo are along Egypt’s version of ‘tourist strips’. The Nile River becomes the country’s main drag and tourists float up and down from Abu Simbel in the south to Alexandria in the north.
There is a lot to see and much of it is, indeed, along the Nile, but by stepping off the tourist trail, visitors can be rewarded with sights and experiences all to themselves.
After visiting Cairo, the pyramids of both Giza and Saqqara, the cities of Aswan and Luxor and a smattering of temples, I headed with two friends across to the Sinai Peninsula to Dahab. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but some version of an Egyptian beach town was being discussed and it sounded interesting.
While in Dahab, I decided to take a SCUBA certification course. A class had started the day we arrived, so the instructor offered to take me out early the next day to catch me up with the rest of the class.
It was a perfectly beautiful morning in Dahab and I found myself sitting on my knees in the Red Sea with the water level just above my head.
I was practicing some of the skills with the instructor – letting water in my mask and clearing it, taking the mask off and putting it back on and finding my regulator if it came out of my mouth. The skills were tough, but I was determined.
After about 10 minutes, I began itching my right cheek near my ear. I thought nothing of it. It was just a normal itch.
I don’t think I even noticed I was itching until the instructor asked (with hand motions and facial expressions) what I was itching. I shrugged. It just itched, I didn’t know what it was.
I pointed to where it was bothering me. He looked at it, looked back at me and rolled his eyes.
Nothing to worry about. I was just crazy and it would go away soon.
A few minutes later, I was still itching.
He became slightly irritated with me and asked me again (we were still underwater, so no words were spoken) what the problem was. I shrugged again and he took a look. His eyes got large and it wasn’t until then that I got worried.
He quickly placed his fingers over the itchy spot, put some pressure on my cheek and firmly brushed it away. I was confused what had happened, but it didn’t itch anymore, so I went back to what we were working on.
After we came out of the water, I asked him what the itch was.
My mouth dropped when he told me it was a little red jellyfish that was stinging me.
At first, he thought it was just a small red fleck of something in the sea that had floated onto me, but the second look, he saw I was bleeding and realised what it was.
So, I am a victim of a jellyfish sting. On the Red Sea Coast of the Sinai Peninsula, with Egypt to my west and Saudi Arabia to my east, I was stung by a red jellyfish.
Coolest (and strangest) souvenir ever.