This travel writing piece participated in the 2018 Travel Writing Competition which was done in collaboration with Travel Garage, Egypt‘s must-go to online store for purchasing adventure and travel goodies.
I have travelled north, south, east and west but never in my life have I ever felt the same way I did the minute I stepped off the bus after the tiring, over-night, ten-hour drive to that remote, rarely heard of town 600 kilo meters south of Cairo overlooking the Red Sea.
A feeling of peace of the soul, serenity of the heart quietness of the mind, accompanied by a pure sense of safety to a stranger in a small town instantly submerged me.
The humans of this small yet warm town generally choose to act on their humanness. They reside away from the vandalism of capitalists, the materialism of the twenty first century and into the realms of intact humanity. They quickly spot your strangeness to the town but choose to treat you as one of their own.
For a city girl with a heart seeking authenticity, seeing such quality of uncontaminated humanity still persisting creates a bond between my soul and the town’s; therefore, I left a piece of my heart in El Quseir.
Quseir has a lot to offer to a wandering soul. It has history as the oldest town in the Red Sea area for it has been populated for almost 5,000 years.
It used to be a port back in the time of the pharaohs, a trade center in the time of the Romans and the Arabs used it as a crossing point to transfer Muslim pilgrims from Africa to Saudi Arabia as well as trade. In addition to this, the year 1912 witnessed the migration of quite a large number of Italian
s to El Quseir to work in the phosphate mining industry, which the town was well known for back in the day till the present.
Walking in the streets of the old town where the Italians built their houses and some other buildings like that of the mining company and others, is simply a rare time-traveling experience.
It also has the enchanting beauty of untouched nature. It overlooks some of the most eccentric and beautiful beaches such as Al Zurib, Sharm Al Luli and others. It is almost 140 kilo meters away from the famous south town of Marsa Alam which has some of the most secluded and top-ten beaches in the world such as Hankorab, Al Nayzk and Qulain.
In El Quseir, I stayed in a simple, historic, cozy hotel named after the city and directly on the coastline.
Originally, it used to be a house of one of the locals but his descendants have decided to turn it into a hotel to accommodate travelers who seek a journey into the obliviated past. The place felt like home and even more with its simplicity, artistry of its details and the familiarity of its owners who treat you like an old-time friend.
They treat you to a tasty gabina (the famous coffee of the south) and delicious shamsi bread (local kind of bread baked by the sunrays) over breakfast. Among them, you feel as secure as you would be among your family, you never feel like a subject to swindle, theft or harassment.
They make up a lot of memories for you to take back home along with those of visits to the close by beaches, historic buildings and landmarks.
It so happens that my trip coincides with the evolving of the full moon who accompanied me on my first time to look out of the window of my room, my late nights laying by the sea, on my conversations over gabina at the nearby beach café with the locals and the new-made friends as well as on my way out to Cairo. It added a bit of flare and charm to enchanting El Quseir as the moonlight would always do by the sea.