The road follows the coastline for its entire length. We pass oases of manicured green tidiness of resorts with the usual brandings in otherwise desolate landscape. Quseir was once a major port for the hajj pilgrimage. Now its not a major anything. I get to eat overlooking an old fashioned red grocers scales, used to weigh the fish. But beyond that is a flat pale ethereal blue sea that meets a bank of lilac sunset haze on the horizon before melting into a sky that replicates the colour of the sea below. It almost feels like I’m circumnavigating again.
The journey to Hurghada replicates those I’ve experienced all along the Red Sea so far: mountains on the inland side of the smooth black tarmac, looking like they’ve been placed there by a film company, while on the coastal side a series of well cared for all inclusive resorts tries to keep everyone non-inclusive out. All this under a debilitating summer sun. Hurghada is another resort town.
I pitch east from the hotel ‘downtown’ in the hope of finding some crystal clear waters. Beyond a low rise I see the sea in the distance, so follow the road south to meet it. I pass a part of town not yet built up, rubbish heap fire burning on waste ground with watch towers I presume are there to look out for encroaching Israelis. The towers look as abandoned as the ground they sit on.
Beyond that is Sheraton Street, a long stretch of cornishe, only without the prerequisite waterfront. All the beaches are private, with high rise resort hotels looking for a sight of the sea in competition with one another.
It proves impossible to go slowly, town to next town. There are two main towns between Hurghada and Suez 450km away: Ras Gharib and Zafarana. No one I speak to has heard of Ras Gharib. There are no open hotels in Zafarana. Its hot and the road is monotonous to Zafarana causing me to doze. From there the resorts pick up again, building work on new complexes stretching along the coast for miles.
Suez shows itself finally as oil refineries and heavy industry. Its lucky enough to have a gulf, a canal, and a crisis named after it. It also has a rather nice, if tatty, promenade along the waters of the port. As the sun sinks it begins to liven with tea and popcorn sellers.