Saturday, April 21, 2012

Khamasin – Sandstorm

Some days ago, a dreadful sandstorm blew across Egypt. On Monday over the Delta and Cairo, on Wednesday evening it reached Hurghada. I had to go out late and was almost carried away by the storm. I protected my head with some books.

The Khamasin („fifty“) normally blows in March or April around the Coptic Easter (which was celebrated last weekend) over North Africa and the Levant. The name “fifty” is derived from the fact that this hot wind blows for about three or four days within a period of 50 days after the spring equinox. The timing was perfect this year. After the Khamasin, there is rain on the Mediterranean coast and in the Delta and so all the dust will be washed away. However, of course not here in the South – dust and sand remain there, where it settled down. Once the storm is over, summer comes.

The visibility was maximum 200 m on Wednesday and Thursday and it was rather uncomfortable outside, if not dangerous. The fine red dust makes breathing difficult and astmathics suffer especially. The dust penetrates even finest cracks and covers everything with a thin layer inside buildings and flats. One wishes to dust and clean – but that is complete nonsense: ten minutes later, everything is again covered with dust. The floor has to remain slippery, the laundry unwashed, furniture and all other contents remain coatedJ. Just have to wait…

Today, the wind is still in storm force, but since yesterday morning, the sky is again light blue, the dark blue sea and the golden islands outside as well as the dark shining mountains in the desert can be discerned clearly from the horizon.

On Wednesday evening, I was lucky: a taxi driver saw me emerging from a side street and fighting against the storm. He waited for me on the main road. He knew me: He was the one who brought me to the side street one and half an hour before.

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