Travel warnings : TRUTH OR CHINESE WHISPERS?

 Assalah beach: The epitome of peace and stillness

Assalah beach: The epitome of peace and stillness

It's hard enough to run and market at business at the best of times, but when your destination gets international travel warnings - even though you feel perfectly safe and noone from your embassy has contacted you to explain WHY the travel warnings are there and even the bedouins are at a loss as to what all the fuss is about - then it just makes the challenge all the greater. I just wanted to share a story that happened to me 18 months ago, which may put some light on the reality of travel warnings…

I was filming with the BBC for a programme for CBBC about the human body (I was to be Aqua Girl in SuperHuman looking at freediving! :-) All was set for the crew to come out to Dahab for three days of filming and everything was booked. One week before they were due to arrive I received an email from their logistics coordinator telling me that they were not allowed to fly to Dahab due to a shooting. They had heard this via newswires and the BBC legal department all the way to the top had banned all travel to Dahab. I was totally surprised by this - Dahab is a small town and if there'd been a shooting, I would have heard about it. I spoke to some friends to see if they knew anything.

It turned out that a young Bedouin woman, who cleaned the houses of a few of my friends, had fallen in love with an Egyptian man (Bedouins and Egyptians tend not to get on so well). They had asked her father for permission to marry but he had forbidden it. Due to her exposure to western women, and the freedom of choice that we enjoy, she and her boyfriend decided to elope together and ran off to the bus station to travel to Cairo. Her uncle caught up with them at the bus station, and took a pot shot at the boyfriend to intimidate him. Noone was hurt, and the Bedouin girl was taken back to her family.

I explained the real situation to the BBC but because of the lack of correct information on the newswires they refused to keep to the original plan and come to Dahab. A simple Romeo and Juliet love story had been blown out of all proportion and turned into a threat to tourists, which couldn't have been further from the truth. In the end we changed plans at great expense and flew to Dubai - you might be able to find the programme on YouTube - CBBC Superhuman! :-)

 Me with presenter Tim Fitz-Higham and patient logistics coordinator, Mark

Me with presenter Tim Fitz-Higham and patient logistics coordinator, Mark

On another matter, I was in the UK when the first revolution kicked off on 25th January three years ago. When we had our second revolution on 30th June last year, I was in Dahab. The experiences were completely contrasting - the media frenzy and inaccurate reporting and portrayal of the real, day to day situation creates a HUGE amount of fear, which isn't felt here at all. I have never felt threatened or unsafe here ever. If you are coming to train with me I am also extremely conscious that I am responsible for you during your stay and therefore would not advise you to come if I didn't feel that it was absolutely OK for you to do so. 

I just wanted to share these two first-hand experiences to demonstrate how the media and newswires create fear in our society, and actually how inaccurate most of their reports are. Modern society is built on fear - fear of not having enough so we stay in the cycle of working too hard to buy things we don't really need, fear of not being good enough to keep on consuming to fill the void of real happiness which comes from within and can never come from material wealth or possessions, fear of not belonging, not being loved or accepted… It goes on and on.

I invite you to look at your fear and challenge it. Look around you, and right now, is there anything in your surrounding, your environment, to make you fearful? Or is your negative mind being fed and nurtured by marketing, politics and news to keep you small, to prevent growth and change and expansion (we will be working on this theme on holiday, by the way :-)

 A journey into deep stillness

A journey into deep stillness

If you are considering a trip to Dahab or Sinai, please don't let these warnings, which we here can make no sense of at all, put you off. For those of you joining us for our yoga retreat (29th Mar-5th Apr) we will continue to keep our eyes open and ears to the ground to monitor the situation in Dahab and the desert via people here, living, breathing Dahab air, i.e. we will give you information based on TRUTH as it is here, not on rumour or gossip. 

I send you all love and wish you peace in your hearts to trust what is true, and I hope very much to see you soon,

Sat nam - may the truth shine out!

Sara and the DYD team!