But part of me is glad that I didn’t know in advance, because the break was wonderful.
Eighteen of us stayed at a hotel on the beach called Coral Coast and did yoga in a studio where you could hear the waves break on the sand. The hotel was lovely but what made staying there incredible was the staff – I’ve never felt so welcome, or taken care of before. Every morning when our rooms were cleaned, our pyjamas were folded under our pillows (my roommate, Michelle, went as far as to say that she thought hers had been ironed) and our towels were folded into works of art – one day a rose, the next a swan, then an elephant, a heart, a fertility symbol and a lizard!
The days went like this –
7:00-7:40 – unguided meditation
8:00-10:00 – Scaravelli yoga and meditation
10:00-11:00 – breakfast buffet! Fruit salad, yoghurt, bread, pancakes, cucumber, tomatoes, feta, boiled eggs, omelettes/scrambled eggs, falafel and more
11:00-5:00 – free time. I usually spent this walking around Dahab, reading or lounging about in one of the hammocks on the beach
5:00-6:30 – Scaravelli yoga and meditation
6:30 onwards – free time
It was so relaxing – at the first meditation I started panicking – how could I stay in one place for seven days with nothing to do?! I was going to get bored. I could have been using this time to travel somewhere else!
By the end of the week I found my mind starting to still. Michelle, the yoga teacher was wonderful. I felt my flexibility was coming back and, with two desert trips, I felt like I’d used my time there well.
Being with the same group for the whole week also created a sense of community – on our last night we had a 80th birthday celebration for Judy, whose birthday was on April 27th (that morning her towels were folded into a tiered cake, decorated with flower petals), in Coral Coast’s Bedouin tent on the beach and shared the most amazing cake (sponge with berry and cream frosting, a jellied berry filling and a chocolate brownie base, decorated with fresh strawberries). It was the perfect way to end the week and, when I reached Lisbon yesterday, I was a bit sorry to be back in a hostel.
Dahab was quite small – about a ten minute walk along the beach from Coral Coast you reach a touristy area of shops and restaurants on the beach with thatch roofs where people stand out the front of each door trying to persuade you to come inside. I ended up getting free bottles of water (really necessary in the heat) every time I sat down with one man to talk about his fiancée, and I got into a ritual of giving another man two kisses every time I walked past.
The best restaurant we visited was Ali Baba – with a main we were given free starters and a free fruit salad for desert (a standard deal in the area) and we sat on the water, under a roof strewn with fairy lights. The service was wonderful, and at the end of the meal the waiters brought over a large brass bowl with halved limes resting on a central landing. One by one we lifted our hands over the bowl to have lime juice squirted over them, and then had the juice washed off with warm water poured from a long-spouted brass jug.
Unfortunately there wasn’t much to Dahab outside of this area – immediately behind the beach front the landscape is almost desolate, with abandoned construction sites stretching into the desert. But it’s a nice place to go for trips into the desert, snorkelling, diving and general chilling out.