When I last saw Hurghada, Egypt, it was at the end of a nineteen- hour series of flights from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. My orders had me wait in this port city on the Red Sea until my ship arrived. This was 1993 and our East Coast ships patrolled the Mediterranean, Red Sea and the Gulf of Arabia (Persian Gulf).
While recent images online show a fancy beach resort (!) in Hurghada, I recall then only sand, heat, scorpions, and prickly pear cactus. Hotels were still in a state of construction – apparently as their proprietors were not taxed until construction had complete. To this day I recall the port worker and a shopkeeper who both spoke english. I got to learn a little about the culture and the European visitors. I don’t think americans generally visited along the Red Sea as the ancient Egypt they come to see is along the Nile and in Cairo museums. Back then Hurghada main clientele were German tourists vacationing on the beach. Egypt is also where I presumed America’s contribution to the world must have been the car horn. It certainly was not the turn signal. Perhaps because one hand on the horn and the other gesturing angrily at a pedestrian leaves no hand free?
Egyptian cabbies have a penchant for three things – their vehicles travel at a high rate of speed, they constantly are honk the horn, and at night, headlamps are strictly of optional use. You have to realize how crazy riding in a cab at night is: camels, donkeys, street vendors, and folk fill the streets. None seem ever involved in an accident with these mad drivers. From visits to our New York City on several occasions, I now know where these Egyptians learned to drive. And Turks. And Africans.