Day 17: Eilat

Eilat is truly a vacation within a vacation. Yesterday all I could tell you about was how beautiful it is here and the abundance of marine life. Today, we see the people and the city for what they are. It seems to be extremely HOT here everyday…so much so that if there was one day to be had in a muslimah’s life without hijab, today would be it. I’d wear some shorts, a t-shirt, and a cap with plenty of sunblock and call it a day. I mean the sweat has just been dripping down my body as if I was a faucet and it hardly matters if I’m inside or outside–it’s just that hot here. This is the place to test out that theory of frying an egg on the sidewalk. So needless to say, today is a water day.

We started out with a scrumptious buffet breakfast–yum! And then put on our swim gear to head to the Red Sea. Our hotel is so cool that they have their own beach for their guests with complementary snorkeling gear, but we wanted to see Eilat’s Dolphin Reef which boasts a beach, a dolphin observatory dock, and the option of diving with the dolphins. Diving with the dolphins was a pretty hefty price, plus we have Noora so we decided to pay the regular entrance fee. We thought we’d be able to touch the dolphins from the dock. Silly us, they jipped us. Instead, we just got to see the dolphins up close and personal and then swim with the beautiful fish of the Red Sea. Don’t get me wrong though–swimming with the fish was a prize in its own right. I never swam with fish before. When Hassan told me that fish were congregating around me, I immediately panicked, and tried to get out! Flashbacks of Jaws and National Geographic specials on piranhas and jellyfish haunted my mind. By then when I saw that the fish were minding their business, I minded my business of having a relaxing day at the beach with my family.

Just as Eilat is extremely hot, the Red Sea beach water was pretty cold. One of the workers at the Coral Reef Observatory mentioned that it stats within a small range of temperatures year long so it’s always pretty cool. I had my modestkini on and it was nice to cool down from the oven that had been baking me thus far, but man! I felt that I needed a thermal wetsuit on after a while! These here fingertips got mighty close to being raisins!

So after 2 hours of fun in the sun, we cane back to our hotel room to take a nap–a three hour nap courtesy of Miss Noora. Then we got back up to do it all over again at the pool…but not before my husband surprised me with the thing I had been looking for this whole trip…A REAL HAMBURGER. Man, I love this man. He’s so thoughtful mash’allah.

After downing the hamburger with real ketchup (Hassan had chicken fingers and fries), we made our way to the resort’s neverending pool system which consisted of a baby pool that fed into a medium pool that had a waterfall into a big, deep pool which then had a jacuzzi on the side. Did you get all that? Noora had the time of her life and so did we, and after it all, we enjoyed a nice buffet dinner and though we were super tired, we motivated ourselves up to walking the boardwalk at night.

Th boardwalk at night was beautiful. It was lit up with lights so much that you’d think it was Christmas or that you were at an amusement park. You could see the lights of Aqaba (Jordan) clearly across the Red Sea. The American music that was playing sounded better than the American music I hear in America! These people have taste and the boardwalk makes me want to break out into song and dance as if we are in a musical. Ethiopian women line the boardwalk offering to cornrow children’s hair. What a treat for those not accustomed to braiding their children’s hair for the long term and who have limited interaction with black folks…the sight bewildered me but I wish they could’ve done mine…

There was an indoor mall (with a metal detector for an entrance), a strip mall, and a large souk all right next to the water. There was also a ride called “The SlingShot” that catapulted people into the air while videotaping them the whole time. The boardwalk was nice and family friendly–and actually we saw several Muslim families. Or maybe they were just wearing the clothing of Islam on their bodies while it had left their hearts. I gave salaams to many women to not receive one response back. My husband salaamed the men to receive two responses back…after a long pause and a crazy look. We definitely saw more Muslims here than in Tel Aviv, however, the record shows that we get more smiles and blessings of peace from non-Muslims than Muslims here. I had just about had it with the Muslims around me when one group made it all up–a family from Southeast Asia…my guess is Malaysia. I got the nicest salaam and smile from a sister that made it all the worthwhile. Her smiling salaam felt like a hug.

Soon after that, we got ready to retire for the night, though Eilat was still very much awake.

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