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Sunday, October 30, 2011

Can I just say.... Wow!

So the bus pulled into Dahab, this remote and tired looking town at about 12:45 am on Friday morning.  There wasn't much to see because it was dark and there wasn't any activity on the street, especially compared to Sharm El Sheikh where we had made our last pit stop an hour before.  But it didn't really matter because all I cared about was doing a face plant into a pillow and letting my legs stretch out after 9 hours at a 90 degree angle.  When the alarm went off 5 hours later it was met with a very audible groan and I'm pretty sure one of us let the F-bomb drop.

But then once we were standing at the water's edge with salty spray jumping towards the sky and a cool breeze perking our faces things started to get better.  We met up with our instructor Rashad, who goes by Shouda (not sure if that's how you would spell it, I'm just going phonetically) and we jumped right into business.

It was very similar to the prep and discussions we'd had poolside a week before, only now we were loading gear into crates and having our briefing meeting in a bedoin style restaurant with pillows on
the ground.  The water was cool, but refreshing and after a 200 meter swim to prove we could stay afloat on our own without a swimsuit it was time to gear up.  Considering I'd only done this a few times before it felt like a habit already and we even learned a new catch phrase to help us remember all the steps in our buddy check.  Instead of "Begin With Review And Friend", Micheal suggested the new and improved "Bruce Willis Ruins All Films".  It is so much easier to remember!

The next few hours were spent in the water repeating skills we'd already done in the pool, only now everything was salty and there were some interesting things to see at the bottom, like other divers, rocks and a few fish darting around us as we knelt in the sand.  I was definitely enjoying myself more than I had in the pool, but still didn't feel like I was actually a scuba diver yet.  Then we went for our first open water fun dive and Can I just say... Wow!

I finally understood why people do this activity.  It's amazing!  The colors and movement of the fish and coral are breathtaking.  And once you hit your groove with buoyancy it turns into a  leisurely trek above the reef, long sweeping scissor kicks and hands clasped gently around your waist as you cruise through a part of the world that many people never get to see.  I saw clown fish, lion fish, porcupine fish, and probably a hundred other varieties that I'll never learn the names of.  There were huge clusters of coral is every color imaginable, with fish nibbling and skipping in and out of every crevice.    When we explored the Canyon there was a drop off point that made me feel like I was in "Finding Nemo" just staring in awe at the deep blue expanse of water that extended over the ridge.  It seemed limitless and was one of those stomach dropping reminders of just how vast and incomprehensible the ocean really is.  Probably the most beautiful sight was a curtain of bubbles rising from the edge of the drop off like hundreds of silvery strings of pearls making their way to the surface.  Some were from divers breathing below, but most were coming from the reef itself.   When we swam through them it was deliciously ticklish .  And at one point a fish with hot pink and lime stripes swam right in front of my mask scaring the hell out of me and also making me shriek in excitement like a little kid.  When we surfaced and pulled the regulators out of our mouths we were smiling and both nodded and said "Yeah we're gonna need to do more of this."

It was so worth it.  The training is hard at times, my body is sore in places I didn't know could get sore, and it makes you face fears you might not have even known you had, but it feels like such an accomplishment to be able to say I am a certified open water diver.  We're already stoked to go back and explore more of the diving that's available in Dahab and to possibly get our advanced diver certification later this year so we can dive even deeper.  So my weekend ends on an exhausted but happy note and I have one more thing I can cross off the bucket list.  :)

More pics to come!


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