Friday, March 02, 2018

Morning in Hurghada

Hurghada is a famous beach resort on Egypt’s Red Sea coast. Looking east across the Red Sea is the southern tip of the Sinai Peninsula.  People come here to see the corals, sunbathe, swim, and dive.  We also did a bit of day.  One morning, I came out to run along the seaside and through the town.   I was rewarded with a more nuanced side of life in Hurghada. 

The rising sun over the sea, through the trees, is beautiful.  It makes you forget the ugliness of the world for a moment.  

When I was running north, I was aware that I had the vast body of water on my right, and the equally wast expanse of the desert on my left.  Later, when we drove further north from Hurghada towards Suez, for hours and hours there was nothing but undrinkable sea water on our right, and inhospitable desert on our left.  This is also Egypt.  

On the waterfront, a man was scavenging from a trash bin.  

While the sun was rising, people were waiting for the ubiquitous white minibuses, to go to work, I suppose.  

Many street sweepers were working.  They are the reason why the streets of Hurghada (at least the main roads) are clean.  Presumably because of the presence of the tourists.  

Are the street sweepers glad that they have a job.  I heard the economy has not been doing well and the unemployment rate is high. 

A cat strolled confidently across the side walk, seemingly without a care of the world.  It has the air of a pharaoh inspecting his domain.  Perhaps it was going home after a night out cahooting?

In a shop window, numerous gods jostled for space against cigarettes.  Also because of the tourists, I suppose.  

A marlin sculpted on an entrance reminds us that we are on the Red Sea.  But i was told no fishing is permitted there because the area is restricted, under military control. That is the reason why we could not see any fishing boats.  

The bounteous and colourful fruits by the roadside remind me that agriculture is big business in Egypt.  Egyptian oranges and cotton are world famous.  I was further reminded by Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson’s "Why Nations Fail" that Egypt is poor not because of culture, geography, or ignorance, but because of its political and economic institutions, that power and wealth is concentrated in a small number of elites.  

The presence of the military is very strong, probably stronger than any other country that I have visited.  I could not decide whether I should feel reassured, or scared.  But I didn’t feel threatened by the possibility of terrorism or other forms of violence.  

I heard singing and realised that I was outside a school.  Several ladies congregated around a small opening in the gate.  Piqued by curiosity, I found a bunch of mothers watching their children walking in line towards their classrooms.  The language and the dresses are different, but the behaviour is no different from the mothers in Hong Kong.  We are all humans after all.  

That thought is reassuring.  


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