Schneider Aviel

This Time I Made the Wrong Choice

How I spent a couple of hours in the Red Sea (and then seven days in quarantine)

Sinai. Photo: Israel Today

At the end of August, I wanted to go to Sinai for a week to write and work online. We had just celebrated our daughter Eden’s wedding and so Sinai fit perfectly into my schedule until the next project. But in the back of my mind, I was unsure. Was there really time for this? Until the very last moment a teetered between “yes” and “no”.

On Monday morning last week, I got in the car and drove to Eilat. After almost four hours I arrived at the Red Sea, parked my car somewhere in the city and ordered a taxi to take me, my little trolley and my laptop to the border at Taba. One last check that I hadn’t forgotten anything revealed that I had indeed left the adapter for my laptop at home. I was beside myself. Surely this couldn’t be! I started to sweat. How could something like this happen! Such a small thing was going to ruin the entire adventure. I went looking for an adapter all over Eilat, but there was none to be had. It had to be ordered, they told me, with a delivery time of at least two days. But I can’t work without an adapter! Do I just keep going? Yes or no? Yes, I crossed the border. It was already two o’clock in the afternoon.

On the other side of the border I was picked up by my Bedouin friend “Santa Katarina.” I told him about my urgent need. After an hour I was in Nuweiba with Samer. In the meantime I had asked Santa, Mohammed and their Bedouin tribe to find an adapter for me. It only took them two hours to actually find a suitable one in Dahab.

I was already connected online with an Egyptian SIM card, but I neither received nor could I send any emails from our server in Jerusalem. Something wasn’t working with the VPN (virtual private network) this time. The editorial staff in Jerusalem couldn’t help me via phone, Telegram or WhatsApp either. So without email and my adapter waiting for me in Dahab, I couldn’t do much in Sinai.

So I calmed myself down and jumped into the Red Sea. As the sun set over the water, I pondered what to do next. Dinner on the beach? It was hot. Then there were conversations with the Bedouins. As I went to bed, I kept wondering, had I made a mistake?

The beach at Nuweiba

The next morning I realized what I had done wrong. I was listening to the wrong voice. That became more and more clear to me. I paid just 40 euros for the new adapter, plus another 30 for the taxi ride. Overall it was still cheaper than the adapter in Israel, though this one was probably a fake made in China. It was clear that I needed to go back. The PCR test I had taken on the Israeli side of the border on Sunday was still valid until noon Wednesday. If I left immediately it would save me having to do a new PCR test in Nuweiba before returning home.

Santa picked me up and took me to the border. After seven minutes I was back on Israeli soil and did another PCR test at the exit of the border crossing. After about an hour and already on the way in my car towards Jerusalem, I received a text message from the Israeli Ministry of Health: “Aviel Schneider, welcome to Israel. According to our records, you are obliged to remain in quarantine for the next 14 days.” I hadn’t received my vaccine booster shot, and it had been more than six months since my second Pfizer shot, meaning my “Green Passport” was expired.

All of this for less than 24 hours in Sinai. But on the seventh day of quarantine I did a second PCR test. This was negative and so I was free again.

I have to admit, I wasn’t listening to the right voice this time. I should have remained home. Is my instinct betraying me? Something made me want to hit the road. To be honest, even just for one night on Nuweiba Beach, the silence, the sea and the mountains in the background make all the effort fade away. But who of us does not know such situations in which voices turn our heads, and we are inundated with seemingly good arguments for both options. I learned a lot from this little misadventure, and thank God that I got home safe and sound.

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