Thursday, February 02, 2006

I Miss Ice

One of the things about travelling in Egypt is that you really can't trust the water. If it comes in a bottle then it is fine to drink but anything with water from the tap is a big risk of picking up some sort of water borne illness. The tour guides told us repeatedly about people on previous trips who brushed their teeth with the water from the tap in the hotel room and were incapacitated for days. Not being able to trust the water, though, means more than just drinking from the bottle instead of the tap. It means that you can't eat fresh vegetables that may have been washed using that same water unless they have been cooked. It also means no ice. Fortunately, the drinks are usually refrigerated but there is something unnerving about needing to make sure that drinks do not come with ice or that you avoid that piece of tomato on the falafel or pretty much the entire salad area at meal time.

While we're on the topic of food, I have to say that I have been pretty disappointed with the food in Egypt. The limits set on what you can eat based on the water problems was a big part of the issue and perhaps the places we stayed were another part but each meal was remarkably similar to every other meal. It got to the point that when we arrived at St. Catherine and got to our dinner buffet, David and I were able to accurately guess every single one of the 6 covered dishes without first peeking. Beef, Chicken, Fish, Rice, Potatoes, Pasta. By the time we got to Sharm El Sheikh we were seriously jonesing for a pizza or anything different from what we had been having so we went looking and found a felafel restaurant.

After a couple of weeks of being extra cautious I was feeling pretty safe. We ordered lots of felafel at the restaurant in Sharm El Sheikh but the without any vegetables they were pretty dry so I added a tomato slice and a few bits of onion to one of them. David gave me a "are you really sure you want to do that?" look but I thought "feh - it's just one slice and some of the other folks are doing it so it should be safe." It certainly tasted better.

Now you probably know I wouldn't be writing about this if everything was just fine and dandy. Around 3 am I woke up with that uh-oh feeling. Sure enough, a few minutes later I was on my knees in the bathroom dealing with my own attack of the killer tomatoes. The good news was that shortly afterwards I felt much better and that was the extent of my incapacitation. Three hours later I was up and out on the beach shooting the sunrise over the Red Sea. Another lesson learned in Egypt though I'm glad it waited until the very end.

Now we're getting ready to fly home and I am surprisingly excited to get to Amsterdam and have some ice in my drink and maybe have a salad.

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