Middle East

Mysteries of Egypt

Ballon drifts over the Nile valley

The sun was just greeting the day as I hurried to the top deck of our cruise boat with a steaming hot cup of coffee in one hand and a camera in the other. I was alone, enjoying the splender of another Egyptian morning. Wispy veils of fog danced across the Nile’s glassy surface, slowly dissipating as the sun’s rays enveloped the distant mountains and countryside.

Aqaba: Diving Jordan's Artificial Reefs

C130 Hercules aircraft, Aqaba, Jordan. Photo by Wolfgang Riess.
C130 Hercules aircraft, Aqaba, Jordan. Photo by Wolfgang Riess.

My relationship to the Middle East is like a long-running but complicated love affair. I keep being attracted to it and keep coming back. Each time I step out of the airplane when I arrive there, I am embraced by a pleasant, complex, and—dare I say—almost sensual scent so full of notes, most of which I have never been able to identify.

Soma Bay in Egypt

Arabian Picasso triggerfish with bluestreak cleaner wrasse, Soma Bay, Egypt. Photo by Lawson Wood.

I first visited the Red Sea as part of a marine biological expedition with Dr Paul Cragg back in 1973. After having run safaris out of Israel and ending up living there for several years working on the legendary liveaboard dive boats Lady Jenny III and Lady Jenny V, my love for the Red Sea has never diminished. Now, some 45 years later, a return trip to the Red Sea was increasing my heartbeat in anticipation.

Hurghada: Red Sea Wrecks

The Red Sea, its reputation precedes itself. The beautiful red-orange desert mountains stand over the unexpected and contrasting blues of the water. The calm and clear waters hide much below. Under the water is a rainbow of colors, and among the fish and corals, are the remains of many ships.

Israel: Journey Beyond the Three Seas

On my first flight to Israel, I stretched out in a comfortable chair on EL AL Airlines, enjoyed a kosher meal and reread notes by the famous Russian traveller and pioneer explorer, Afanasiy Nikitin (circa 1466-1472). Only on the approach to Tel Aviv did I suddenly realize how small a country Israel was, and that it bordered three seas.