• El Gouna International Squash Open • 02-10 April 2015 • El Gouna, Egypt •



Every time it’s the same thing, Fram, the first days, it’s a bit difficult, and after that, it all goes well…” smiled promoter Amr Mansi as I was about to change my flight to go back home… Only kidding but yes, the beginning of this tournament hasn’t been easy.

It started with Cubs flight being more than 2h late arriving in Cairo for his connexion to Hurghada. It was the same thing last year, but if the previous year, I was in the queue boarding at the gate when Steve arrived, this year, I had to physically hold the plane! “Madam, PLEASE get on the plane”, the Gate Officer ordered me, as EVERYBODY had boarded and were roaring to go. But it was fine, Cubs made it, and more astoundingly, so did his luggage!

We were then picked up with no trouble in Hurghada by the organisers – right on time, with our name correctly spelled and printed, that’s rare enough to be noticed! Eventless ride, we know the way, until we arrived at the new resort, Ancient Sands.

Let’s make it clear there is nothing ancient about those Sands, as they are still under construction! We were greeted by Karim and Ziad, two adorable boys that were waiting for us in the middle of the night – it was nearly 2am by the time we arrived.

Of course, the first question we asked was “Is there a code for the internet”. Moment of silence.

“I’m sorry, but we don’t have internet available here, not yet. Did you make clear you needed internet before you came?”

Remember we are Tuesday night right after PSL for Steve, and Paris IG for me. I try and breathe normally, and to stay as calm as I can, not my forte as a lot of people will tell you. But in Egypt, I'm doing fine usually.... “I’m terribly sorry, my dears, but we NEED to work now, and we NEED internet”.

“Now?”. “Now”. Little conversation in Arabic.

“Ok, no problem, Ziad will go and get his own dongle for you. But we have only one.” “That’s ok” says Steve, I’ll manage with mine for tonight.

Of course he couldn’t connect with what we had from England, so we finished both of us, standing in my room, him using the local sim that I got from Cairo’s Ladies Worlds, me on the dongle. It was 3.30 by the time we finished…..

We went early to breakfast a few hours later, as I knew that Steve would be roaring to go and use my phone to get on internet. We come in the room, nobody else but three waiters. “Welcome, you are the first people to get breakfast here” says one of them. Somehow, I didn’t find that reassuring…

After waiting for a little while, we see a gentleman rushing in, it was the cook who then came to us and handed us menus, only to take them away seconds later, realising that we were with the “Squash People”, stating with a huge smile that we had the choice between fried eggs or scrambled, one cup of tea (yes, one, and a ridiculously small sized one too) OR orange juice…!

Steve and I just couldn’t help giggling; it was such a funny surreal set up….

Thank GOD, and with a few emails here and there to the relevant people, we now have a normal buffet style breakfast, the water has been restored in the rooms – yes, no water at some point – I have found a way to hang my clothes, on the flat screen TV – as no cupboard for handing clothes had been planned in the room, and the building noise has stopped finally today at midnight, to only start at 7am....

God Bless Ear Plugs.

One thing for this place, the rooms are beautiful and vast – and I’m told I have the smallest room, the others must be HUGE, there are very few mosquitoes as the wind is blowing them away, and the resort, although surrounded by sands and desert, is less then 3 minutes away from the Glass court by shuttle (Cubs walked it in 18m). Vast improvement compared to the previous years! And honestly, when it’s completed, the place will be THE place to be. And I'm not just saying that. It will be stunning once completed.

So, like Mansi stated, a bit of a bumpy ride at first, but it’s all sailing smoothly now…


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