SUAKIN TO HURGHADA, EGYPT
TUESDAY, 15 APRIL 2008
We are really enjoying this lifestyle of regular snorkeling in warm weather. It is such a special thing to do - viewing something of the wonderful life under the water. We enjoy another excellent early morning snorkel before we up-anchor and head off to Suakin.
Our agent in Suakin
Another efficient agent called Mohammad is here. He has us cleared very quickly and comes on board in his pristine white robes to finalize our papers. In no time he has the fuel organized to be delivered out to the boat in large jerry cans. This, of course, takes time but the lads are happy to work until 9pm to finish. This means we are free to leave tomorrow as the forecast is favourable again and we now have enough fuel on board to get us to Cyprus.
View across to Suakin from the anchorage
WEDNESDAY, 16 APRIL 2008
This morning we take the dinghy over to the old town. The buildings are made of coral and for many years they have been collapsing, so this area is now deserted. This was the last slave trading post in the world up until the end of World War II.
Across the causeway we amble around the market and can see many of the shack homes. The market is a wonderful spectacle with the bustle of people, vendors, donkeys and carts, and goats wandering around. We buy some of their speciality - round, flat bread rolls - and a selection of fruit and vegetables that are available. There is very little variety. We probably are unable to shop again until we reach Hurghada in about a week.
The extreme poverty here is very obvious but the people are very welcoming and friendly. Many ask to have their photo taken.
View across from anchorage
There is a small cafe at the market and by the harbour but we don't risk the hygiene here, even for experience.
We clear out of customs and leave here at about 11.30am to sail to Masa Ata, another reef just south of Port Sudan. It is a clear but very narrow passage to go inside the reef. We must arrive at these anchorages in good light so we have good visibility of the reef. You cannot rely on the accuracy of the charts in these small areas.
We go to explore the large area of the shallow, mangrove lined lagoon and channels inside the reef. There is supposedly a great variety of bird life and fish here. We only hear and see a few birds but enjoy watching 5 men netting for prawns. They are wading in water up to the top of their thighs. On a floating, blown up tyre tube they have their baskets to put their catch in, and throw their large nets out as they walk along. They approach us and offer us some of their catch. We have no money or gifts for them so we return to the boat. It is just as much for the experience as for the prawns that we go back to them. It is also tricky to get into the lagoon through the reef looking into the westerly sun but well worth it.
We have a brief sunset snorkel on our way back to the boat. A small wooden fishing boat is anchored by us now. We go over to say "Hi". They are grateful for their goodies package and cigarettes. They haven't any fresh fish but offer us dried fish they have hanging across the stern of their boat. I can't imagine eating it but it looks interesting. We finish off a perfect day with dinner on Free Spirit.