Photographs copyright © Peter Truckle 2017. Used with kind permission.
As many of you know, the Manage My Website team is based around various far flung areas of the world including the UK, Egypt and Texas.
In this first blog of a new series about our lives and passions, Donna Bateman, Business Partner, talks about her recent trip to a famous South Sinai camel race.
Those of you who are followers of the MMW team news will already know that I spend some of my time living in the stunning town of Dahab, Egypt. Formerly a Bedouin fishing village, Dahab (Egyptian Arabic: دهب, meaning 'gold') is a small town on the southeast coast of the Sinai Peninsula, approximately 80 km northeast of Sharm el-Sheikh.
I’m not too ashamed to admit that I lived previously as a fully paid up member of the city-dwelling high maintenance ‘girl about town’ brigade with what one of my friends only half-jokingly referred to as an entourage servicing all my needs from a sports therapist to manicurist, and a wardrobe of shoes that were only for sitting down in. In other words my life was as far away from my current lifestyle as things get.
It’s not surprising therefore that I’m often asked “Why there?”
Well, here's an example…
Last week I was fortunate enough to experience one of those “once-in-a-lifetime” bucket list things that people dream about. I went out into the desert for three full days, driving off-road for hours to get to where our camp would be set up, walking along canyons rarely touched by human feet, viewing stunning mountain scenery which rose up like a manmade movie set for Mars or the latest Star Wars.
The catalyst for the trip was the annual 30km camel race in Wadi Zalaga between the Bedouin tribes of Muzeina and Tarrabin. Google it - there’s tons of information online about the race, including a blog from our very own Allie, footage of the actual races on YouTube and it makes an appearance in Patricia Schultz’s “1,000 Places to See Before You Die: A Traveler’s Lifelist”.
But our trip was so much more than the race. A small group of us, including three children, set off two days earlier. For those two days we explored our environment and learned about the Bedouin way of life. This included searching for animal tracks, visiting a makeshift farm where crops including onions were thriving, seeking out traditional herbs used for medicine and making natural soap, coming across people in the middle of nowhere all greeting us with a smile and the offer of water, drank copious amounts of tea and coffee and ate the most delicious and varied food made totally from scratch over an open-fire, including bread cooked under the ashes.
We were lucky with the weather; the days were warm and sunny and the nights weren’t too cold. Even if they had been, our tent was fully equipped with its own fire, I was provided with two sleeping bags, two blankets and a thick coat and had the best nights of sleep I’ve had probably since I was a baby. And I never have trouble sleeping at the best of times.
Our finale, the race, isn’t for the faint-hearted. We hurtled along at breakneck speed, following the leading pack in a cloud of sand dust. It was at turns exhilarating, thrilling and bone crunching. The winning jockey was a mere 5 years old, already fearless and clearly an expert. The crowd went wild – it didn’t matter which side you were rooting for - then as quickly as it started, it was all over, the crowd dispersed, camels were hustled into the back of pick-ups and slowly we drifted away, making the drive back to Dahab. Life really doesn’t get better than this.
Huge and special thanks to my lovely neighbour Maruan who organised it all and made sure our every need was met over the three days, Salah who took chief responsibility for running the camp, Selmy who drove us and the other Bedouins who travelled with us, took care of us, welcomed us into their circle and let us catch a small glimpse of their extraordinary way of life. I salute you all.
If only one of you even half thinks this is something that you might like to do, my advice is do it. I’m happy to point you in the right direction or answer any questions if you want to contact me at the usual email address.
You can get in touch with Maruan and Salahat at Sinai Safari here.
For more info about Sinai and the Bedouin way of life or to book a Bedouin mountain dinner, visit The Bedouin Way blog.