So I really don't know what to write about vacation but I'll just start with what stuck out right from the start.
The trip was short, Well, once we got out of Hurghada it was. We had to make a few stops. Goggles for E, the bank, Drinks and gum, We even stopped to get new sandals for the kids. I opted for a pair of Stan Smiths. Two hours later, we arrived. I had made a playlist and sang along the whole way, so it flew by.
The entrance was pretty and we checked in, soon we got our rooms, 2 adjacent ones with patios, right near the pool. It was about 3 pm and the kids wanted to go swimming so we went. I donned my hijabi swimwear and suncreened the kids up and off we went to the pool. Right off the bat, it was clear that while there weren't a ton of guests, we were the only Egyptian family.
I dipped my foot in, it felt warm and Zayneb had already jumped in. I eased in and was filled with that rush of happiness and excitement. Not a minute in the pool and one of the men working there asked me to get out. At first he said it would be a problem with the guests, then when I said we go to plenty of hotels and it's not a problem, he said it's a rule , only 1 or 2 piece suits. So, dejected and meekly, I got out. I sulked a bit in disbelief on a nearby chaise long and the girls commiserated and said how unfair it was. I was just thinking, really? I'm going to spend 5 days on the sidelines? I went back to the room to change because I wasn't happy to sit there, wet. E was still in the room and I told him what happened as I started to get my clothes. He said, screw that, go back in the pool and if anyone has anything to say about it, tell them to speak to me. I was like YEAH! Fight the power!
So I go back to the pool side and sit for a minute, trying to work up the nerve to either tell the guy to take it up with my husband or to just go back in the pool when a different guy came up to me and said, we were mistaken. In fact he called the manager and asked and said it was ok as long as it was swimwear material or not cotton.
So it was all good and I was so relieved but the whole time I couldn't shake the feeling that people had a problem with me. Not foreigners but the Egyptian workers. A couple of more times someone said that what I was wearing was not allowed (It's a big resort), but I assured them we'd okay-ed it with the manager. I really felt like it was a case of Egyptian's worrying about appearing too Muslim in front of the foreigners when I found the foreigners to be quite unfazed, friendly and smiley. I actually enjoyed breaking a stereotype or two when I'd ask one of them for the time in English. None of us wore a watch or brought our phones to the pool or the aqua park. I love the look of surprise/confusion when they heard me :).
I got a lot of stares but I didn't let it spoil my fun. I had a blast. Even just at meals people would stare just unabashedly. I thought to myself, a lot of these tourists come to the resort on holiday straight from the airport and I might be the only Egyptian woman they see on their trip. I made it up in my head that they would go back home tell all their mates at the pub they saw a real live Muslim woman , swimming! And, get this, she wasn't oppressed and she had fun and went on water slides and wore Adidas to dinner!
I've since learned from a discussion I had with some local women, that there are a lot of places here that don't allow women in hijab to swim. Some won't even be given sunbeds or enter the beach area! What on earth, right? This is Egypt! If someone has a problem with hijab, they are in the wrong country.
It's also a class issue. You'll notice that the more well off people are in Egypt, in general, the less hijab is observed. So in swanky country clubs or "nadys" and in high end resorts, a lot of the time you'll run into this problem. I think if they allow women to sunbathe topless or in next to nothing, they should let me wear whatever the heck I want. I do realize that I was allowed to wear what I wanted but the fact that there was a snag and that it happens so often is a problem.
What do you think? Is there really any problem with swimming covered up or is it just Egyptians assuming that foreign guests will have a problem with it?