We left Cairo on an overnight bus to the Sinai. Seven or eight hours of interrupted sleep later, I opened my eyes to a perfectly round, robust, and bright orange sun, sitting low in the sky of the Egyptian desert. Layers of jagged golden rocks and mountains hugged the winding road. The chaos of Cairo, far away.
That morning, I saw the desert meet the sea for the first time. The landscape is surreal. But it makes sense.
When I spend lazy days on the beach, the Pacific Islander in me comes out. While born in the suburbs and groomed in the city, I realize I’m a beach girl at heart: it’s where my skin reverts to the darker shade it was when I was younger, playing all day in the sun; where my long, black hair becomes messy and sensuous from the salt of the sea; where my daydreams ripen—and are fulfilled.
We escaped to Ras Sinai, a desert/beach village on Ras Shaitan (Devil’s Head), not far from Taba, a small town and border crossing with Israel. Ras Shaitan is a cove known for snorkeling and diving, with several camps along the shores of the Gulf of Aqaba; it got its name from a rock formation resembling the devil’s head. The gulf, at the northern tip of the Red Sea, is a brilliant blue on a sunny day. Across the gulf I saw hazy outlines of the mountains of Saudi Arabia through the window of our beach hut.
The camp is small, but there are enough chill spaces and nooks for guests to spread out and still feel secluded. Hammocks. Straw umbrellas. Floor pillows and low tables scattered on large striped rugs. Village cats, waiting for scraps from dishes. The sounds of a flute, singing, conversations, and the waves of the ocean. When the sun sets, guests from the camp converge here, near a bonfire.
Huts are simple, made of bamboo, straw, wood, and stone. It was surprisingly warm each night. The huts are without electricity, so we lit ours (above) with candles in cut water bottles and open seashells.