It’s a mark of what to expect when I hit the southern Sinai resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh when am chatting with a guy in the sandwich queue in the town before Sharm, and he shows me, using fingers hidden beneath the counter, how much the sandwiches really are, and not the foreigner price.
Sharm is known throughout the northern hemisphere as the land of cheap package tours, and I was addressed in Russian more than Arabic or English.
The trip to the Sinai peninsula passes through the Ahmed Hamdi tunnel, an hour from Cairo. The tunnel goes under the Suez Canal, 1.5 minutes of darkness broken rhythmically by flouro lights through the tunnel, so we flicker between dark and bright light and back into the flat, hot, grey sky and stony sand on either side of the bus.
The tunnel was where were first checked over by a plainclothes guard which a black holster at each hip, who meditatively picked his nose as he watched us drive off.
Our tickets were checked twice and our identity documents also twice, though the second time, the guard didn’t bother making it to the end of the bus, where I sat. Sure it won’t be like that when Obama hits town.
When Bush stayed in Sharm el-Sheikh years ago, he booked out the entire Hyatt, which strikes me as just being greedy.
The Ritz-Carlton is another contender for a presidential visitor, and people, trust me when I say the security is up for it. I wandered into the hotel (yes, that’s the pool up above) several times for dinner or drinks or pool time with the swinging London contingent who’d drawn me down to Sharm in the first place, and the hotel is gorgeous.
I just WISH they’d stop escorting me off the premises like a criminal. Albiet a fabulous criminal, as the escorting has taken place on golf buggies at times.