On the third windswept and startling bright Dahab morning I tore myself from the cushioned and shielded sanctuary of the Bedouin pavilion overlooking Gulf of Aqaba to rejoin the dawdling chatty yoga group at the big wooden breakfast table. I had had my fill of the delicious foul and salty white cheese, the peppers and freshly cooked unleavened bread and prefered to drink my tea away from the rajastic chit chat of my new yogic companions. I dragged myself back to these starlings swathed in soft natural fibres against the underlying desert chill to hear what the much heralded (and money spinning I cynically appended) visit from the local guide had to say about a possible desert trip.
Passive aggressive emaciated yoga teacher Celia knew exactly what she wanted us to choose to do. I was shot down in flames for trying to concoct an apparently totally impossible combination of desert trip and nature reserve.
The guide invited me to sit down, testily I refused. He sat high and lean in his wooden chair in his grey djellaba and spoke about possible adventures and utterly charmed. With his clipped moustache and thickly waved hair he looked like a like a grease-painted silent movie star version of himself.
Sulkily I skulked back to my cushioned solitude to stare at the sea. A couple of chapters of a novel later (who was John Galt anyway) and I walked along the pedestrian and equestrian curvy sea path that stretched between the sparsely populated tents and cushions and their four walled counterparts. The sun, high over head felt damaging and the sea sparkled and shimmered all the way to the menacing mountain walls of Saudi Arabia.
Someone waived to me as I reached the busy diving hub and I ate more hummus with two of my new acquaintances before setting off again alone along the sea path and between the hard selling restaurateurs and hawkers of bric-a-brac stood the charming guide, the purveyor of Bedouin dreams. About six feet six he stood shrouded in robes sipping daintily on the straw in a small carton of juice. He smiled and said hello and asked me if I wanted a tour of the surrounding area, to see the canyon and the views. Cynically, I thought afterwards, I asked him the price of the tour and affronted he told me it was free.