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The Bedoins of Ras Abu Galun


Photo of Bedoin living











Ras Abu Galun beach

EGYPT, The Bedoins of Ras Abu Galun

          It is our last day in Dahab (Sinai).   Sylvain and I decide to visit the Bedoins in Ras Abu Galun.  It is about an hour and a half hike from the Blue Hole (15 minutes drive from Dahab).

          Some people book tours for about $80 (Canadian funds) to live a Bedoin lifestyle for a day.  The tour includes a camel ride, meals with the Bedoins and transportation to and from the Blue Hole.  We know a couple of people who took the package tour.  They said that they did not feel welcome in the Bedoins' home.  They were also pressured to purchase handicrafts.  Sylvain and I want a different experience so we go on our own.  We spend about $4 each for our excursion which pays for our transportation to the Blue Hole and back to Dahab.

          The start of the hike involves going up and down slopes for about ten minutes.  The rest of the way is along the shore of the Red Sea so it is flat.

          There is a group of Bedoins with two camels in front of us.  They are playing really loud music on a portable stereo.  They offer to take us on the camels for $15 each but we refuse.  The camels are having a hard time on the slopes.  It is too steep for them.

          From a distance we can see our destination.  Along the shore on rock desert stands about fifteen shacks, all identical.

          Along the way are three shelters.  The first shelter which is about thirty minutes on foot from Ras Abu Galun is the home of the Bedoins that were on the trail with us.  The second shelter is made of four metal poles about four feet high, six feet apart.  A soft cloth serves as the canopy to shade them from the hot sun.

          There are four adults (husband, wife, aunt and grandmother) and three children (one boy who is six years old), two girls (one is two the other is  nine years old) that live here.  They are kind enough to invite us into their home.  The nine year old girl speaks English.  She is our translator.

          They ask us if we want a camel ride but we refuse.  They offer us tea.  Sylvain refuses for both of us because the little boy holding the cups has skin disease.

          From this visit we find out that the husband literally goes through garbage for a living while the women go fishing with spears.  We say our goodbyes and we're off to Ras Abu Galun.

          Once there, the first place that we pass is a store.  They sell drinks and not much else.  There is hardly anyone outside.  Most likely because it must be almost sixty degrees celcius.  We discreetly peek inside the shacks.  There are tourists in almost all of them.

          Tourism is the main source of income for these people.  There has been so much change in their lifestyle.  Some years ago, the Egyptian government forced them to live in "real" homes (not the tents that they live in).  They were built homes but most of them refused to give up their tents.  The government started burning their tents and kept burning their tents until they complied.

          There is not much to do here except for snorkling.  There are usually plenty of fish in these waters but not today.  It is so hot.  Luckily, there is a covered area.  I'm not sure if it belongs to anyone.   They will probably not mind.  It is too hot to be exposing in the sun.

          In the afternoon when it is not so hot, we head back to the Blue Hole.  We meet two ladies who travelled two days from Dahab to Ras Abu Galun.  They did not realize how close they are to the city.  It took them two days because they went on a 4x4 through the desert.

          We pass by the Bedoins that we met earlier.  The women are fishing now and the man is still going through the garbage.  Once again they invite us into their home.  We did not accept the offer.  We have to catch our ride back to Dahab or we will be stranded.

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