Bought our tickets to the city of Hurgurdah, the port city for the ferry across the Red Sea to the Sinai, and once on the bus we met two other groups of people we’d seen before. Rob, Edward and Simon (from the felucca trip) and these other guys. When comparing the priced of our bus tickets each group had paid a different price – very typical of Egypt. When I first arrived here I was scared about theft, but I realized that the Egyptians won’t steal from you, just overcharge you for everything. The bus ride wasn’t bad at all, and we even got to see some local color – including the woman who brought a goose and a chicken on the bus for a while.
We arrived at noon and fought off the touts in order to get a hotel room. Hurgurdah is disgusting, and there’s nothing there for the backpacker except the ferry to the Sinai. We went straight to the ferry office to see if we could get on Saturday’s (the next day’s) boat, but were told the boat was full and could only get tickets for Sunday. That would mean staying in this hovel of a town an extra day – something we were not prepared to do. A little background about the city is needed for the reader to fully understand our situation.
Hurgurdah is, as far as I can tell, the armpit of Egypt. The city only exists because it’s the gateway to the Sinai, and that’s the tourist draw. There is a ClubMed resort 150 k’s down the coast at Queisar, but why were the prices here so expensive? The city is really dirty, there’s tons of construction going on, and all the buildings that are supposed to be finished lave iron reinforcement bars sticking out of the roof as though they were going to add an other floor or something. Everything in this town was so expensive, for they were out to screw the tourists while they had them in town. Now, keeping them in town seemed to be the biggest problem – hence the reason we couldn’t get on the boat leaving the next morning. The whole town seemed to have this conspiracy going where they’d try to keep all the tourists in the city as long as possible. We asked all sorts of people and always got the same answer – the ferry departs the day after tomorrow. Plus it didn’t matter who you asked, be it the shop owner or the beggar woman in the street, the answer was always the same. We finally figured out that if you’re a tourist and you haven’t been in Hurgurdah the mandatory two days (all the locals have telepathy and can tell how long you’ve been in the city) then the boat always leaves the day after tomorrow. Rich has this theory that when they pipe the prayers over the loudspeakers in Arabic the last line is always, “Remember, tell all tourists the boat leaves the day after tomorrow.”
Anyway we wandered around Hurgurdah, accepting the fact we weren’t getting ferry tickets for the next day, eventually returning to our room at the Sunshine House to relax. We did change in to our swimsuits and walk down to the water, but all the hotels with beach front property either had a huge fence around it or wanted to charge us to sit on the beach. We were all pretty tired, so we went back to the room planning to drink a bottle of Stoli and mango juice to entertain ourselves. Our hotel manager came in and told us the boat was the day after tomorrow, but since we’d have to stay a second night would we like to go on a snorkeling day trip. We said no way and sent him on his way – a feat in itself since he really wanted to stay in our room and talk all night. Early to bed to rest up, for we were going to the ferry the next day, ticket or no ticket.