The western Christmas / New Year holiday season was occurring during the middle of my stay in The Sudan. I had been spending my time in Khartoum and in refugee camps. Life was hot, basic and challenging. So a colleague and I decided to take our research work with us and head for the Red Sea for a few days. We went to Port Sudan which was the city closest to the place near the sea where we would stay.
What remains with me is my impression of the unbelievable difference between Port Sudan and the adjacent Red Sea. These two places are completely interconnected and interrelated. And it was a place of contract and paradox.
I was snorkeling on the most pristine, beautiful, alive reef and ocean environment I have ever visited. And it was just minutes away from a city that appeared to be the most decaying, littered, rusting city I had ever visited. I was struck by how little the human environment was cared for in contrast to how much the as-yet-untouched natural environment of the sea was caring for itself.
Christmas Day amidst the choreography of the fish was one of the best I have experienced. What a precious and beautiful place. Yet, it’s metaphorically interesting to me that I had to pass through the ugly to get to the beautiful…