Day 43: 30th

I have been reading more books than I usually do in the UK. I just finished Armed Madhouse by Greg Palast which gave a disturbing look at the causes of the Iraq War and how to rig an election. It was very interesting and detailed.

I was lent a copy of Hard-boiled Wonderland/End of the World by Haruki Murakami which reminds me strongly of David Lynch films.

Work is quiet but we are expecting an onslaught of work starting 3rd Sept. I have got a few fun night dives done. Hopefully I will be doing The Islands as a night dive. That dive site is the most challenging navigation that I have seen in tropical waters. I never take the same route twice (although I guess it would be possible if I wanted).

Day 42: 29th

Just a quick update today because I am going fun diving in a short while.

I am thinking about doing more tech diving courses next month. I have been playing this option in my head for ages and now seems like the best opportunity. I am hoping to fund this with my pay from diving which I should more or less achieve by the end of September.

Last night I came home to find our shared outer wall had been demolished and piles of new bricks nearby. I simply stepped over the rubble to get to my house. Hopefully they remember to put the door back with the wall!

Day 40: 27th

I have successfully added credit to my mobile. For some reason it only increased to 80 pounds but again I could not understand the reason; it was lost in translation. I have sent out a few texts. The credit is only valid for 3 months or something but that is more than enough for me. Apparently it is more common for it to expire unless you are a heavy mobile user.

I am planning to sweep my house today, which requires getting a dust pan and brush. It is surprisingly hard to get at the required furnishings when you need to find, purchase and hand carry everything back home. My floor has reached the stage I have difficulty opening my door because of the small stones that seem to migrate from outside.

I have been meaning to put up photos from the last few weeks, including some of me. My hair colour seems to be slightly fading/lightening probably due to the salt and sun exposure (and instructor stress?! – just kidding). The photos show the effect slightly.

PS. Happy birthday Tom (if you ever read this)

Mental note to self: paintballing 16/09 and london 23/09

Day 38: 25th

I have been trying to top up my mobile phone recently without much success. Although Mobinil is written on the sim card and is shown as the network on the phone screen, I can’t use normal top up cards. I have to get Aywa cards which is a special Mobinil tariff. Since I bought the wrong card, I am hopeful the shop will sort it out but their English is not too good (but better then my Arabic – which is about two words vocab).

I had yesterday off just fun diving. I have made about 60 dives since I arrived. Working today and tomorrow.

The forecast is depressingly constant at 45C or more. The weather is of course sunny every day. I think 38C would be much more my style!

Day 36: 23rd

I unexpectedly got yesterday (mostly) free which was a welcome quick break. I did a bit of fun diving at the Islands with the video camera. I also cleaned my house in the morning and dropped off the laundry. The price is 1 to 3 Egyptian pounds per item (10p to 30p UK).

I was working again today. The pay for last week (Sunday to Sunday) was slightly improved (1400 Egyptian for about 14 working dives). I paid off my months rent and I still have to sort out my new bar bill but I think I can save enough for more technical diving courses. I think there is more chance of me using that than the Dolphin rebreather at this stage.

Traffic on the roads never ceases to amaze (and scare) me. Pavements are non existent or are really high and occupied by goats and camels. This leads to drivers beeping every person they see. My house is luckily in a quiet area but it must get really annoying. If you have been to Egypt you will probably know that other driving habits include:

  • driving at night with the lights off
  • no seat belts
  • often stopping in the middle of the road to chat to a friend
  • beduoin kids jumping on the back of the pickup while its going 10-20 mph.

I wonder if its the same in the rest of the middle east…

Day 34: 21st

I am still working, and will be for the foreseeable future (no days off I mean). Last time I had a real day off not diving, I was bored after a few hours so it is better to keep busy. I think I need to mix fun dives in to keep things fresh. Apparently it is easy to get “burn out” from constantly running courses.

The hotel is busy making changes to smarten things up. It is interesting to see it evolve into something better.

Both James (friend) and John (bro) are planning to visit me and arriving on the same day. (hi guys!) I think it would be a good way to wind down my involvement at the end of my stay since I will be working less. In fact I suppose I have only 6 working weeks remaining before then.

Day 33: 20th

The internet connection has still not been fixed. I am also having a hopefully temporary problem receiving email. If you need to urgently contact me, use SMS text. I hope this is fixed soon but the ISP seems to be clueless and estimating 6 weeks for a fix. There is talk of asking for the subscription back and getting another provider.

There is now a slight wind but very hot. I am trying to be careful and not let people overheat when getting scuba equipment ready. I am doing refresher and check out dives recently. So far it has been straight forward and we have had some relaxing dives. We plan to dive the Eel garden at dusk to see the hardyhead silverside shoals.

It was Chriss’s birthday yesterday and we had a little beach BBQ once the air had cooled a little. We even had some Australian wine that I guess was brought by a group of divers. It made a welcome change from sakara beer.

I found out about my pay situation. I get about 1000 Egyptian pounds a week which is slightly less than 100 UK pounds. This is worked out as a per dive system with different dives getting different rates. My bar tab (which includes 2-3 meals a day + beer) for 1 week is approx 350 Egyptian pounds. Rent for my house per week is 250 Egyptian pounds.

Day 30: 17th

Welcome back loyal reader! The internet connection has been out of service at the dive centre for the last few days. I am in an internet cafe right now.

I went to El-Tor on Monday by bus to extend my visa. Egyptian buses are different to UK or anywhere else I have been. They will not let you buy a ticket for the bus until it is waiting at the bus station. The bus waits about 20 minutes at each stop so you had better not be in a rush. The trip from Dahab to El-Tor was about 3 hours 15 min.

I was not sure where I needed to go in El-Tor so I started to say to a taxi driver “can you take me to the office of….” and he said “visa extension for passport? come with me”. Once there I had to wait about 1 hour for the forms to be processed. Then I came straight back by bus because there is not much else in El-Tor apparently.

Yesterday I was really busy with 4 dives. Today was relatively easy. It is getting busy around the dive centre. Today the wind stopped and it is hot, really really hot. It burnssss. The forcast for the next few days is much the same.

We have been diving Eel Garden regularly at 6pm when there is a vast shole of silverside hardyheads. We were even doing open water skills under a cloud of these fish, nearly blocking out the light! I got some great video (I think).

The next update will be in a few days (or sooner if the internet connection is fixed). I have some photos of me which I will put up soon.

Day 26: 13th

All things carrying on as normal. Working today doing the Canyon and Blue Hole. Tomorrow I have a day off to get my visa extended. I will try to get some photos as I am going. I have to ask around about the bus system but it can’t be that hard – I hope. The bus station is on the other side of town in Dahab City.

Chaz is back and she said her trip was good on the liveaboard. I met Colin who is Chriss’s cousin.

A boat is going to Gabr-el-Bint tomorrow which I can’t do this time but hopefully before I leave I will go. There are meant to be excellent coral fans at that site.

Day 25: 12th

A sewer near the dive centre backed up yesterday causing a large pool to form about 25 metres and across the entire road. Fortunately the kerbs are built really high so we can walk around it. I heard that they are not properly built so blockages and capacity problems occur.

There are road works on one of the main roads where they are upgrading the system. There are no signs marking the large trench in the ground so it would be quite possible to drive into it. Often cars drive around without head lights on, which makes things interesting. We jokingly say they are saving electricity.

I am still busy working. More people have arrived and we are keeping busy.

Day 24: 11th

It has been windy for the last few days and the sea is rough in the mornings. It also feels cooler in my house at night and I appreciate the change. Hopefully it lasts for a while longer. I hear it might be connected to the full moon although I am still trying to imaging the mechanism (mechanical, atmospheric, chemical, biological, tidal?).

The airports in the UK were closed yesterday which delayed people today so we have yet to see who is ready for diving. Also people had delays departing Egypt by 3 hours. It was interesting that Ryanair (I think) were trying to discourage check in luggage by a small charging to carry any weight, hand luggage was included in the ticket cost. I guess that policy is now going to be reversed. *sigh*

I am instructing the advanced course today which has better diving opportunities than the open water course.

Update: A recent diver at Fantasea is putting his photos online which is motivating me to get another digital camera.

Day 23: 10th

I am going to the southern oasis today for diving to finish the course. Hopefully it should be a straight forward day.

We were watching the move Shawn of the Dead last night but it was “diverted” into a drunken political debate. And I don’t really debate politics with people until I know we can agree or disagree and still be friends. I eventually said good night and disappeared. I consider stopping a movie before the end a serious faux pas.

Mental note: I got to go to El-Tor on Sunday or soon after to get my visa extended.

Day 22: 9th

I had a slight problem with my front door lock last night. It simply would not unlock itself! However I did notice the door did seem a bit loose so I gave it a hard push and it swung open. So much for security.

The problem was the holes in the door frame were misaligned with the lock by about 10mm. I used my scuba multi tool to unscrew the plate, scratch out lower holes and screw the plate back on. The door is back in working order (hopefully). There seems to be a common problem with the state of repair, everything breaks and is partially fixed but does not really work properly (including doors, cars, electric wiring, plumbing, etc).

Yesterday went very well with lots of dives done. Today should be slightly easier

Day 21: 8th

We have just discovered some problems with the work schedule so today is going to be pretty intense with several dives to do (mostly less than 5 metres).

I was paid yesterday for the first time. I think most went into my short hotel stay and transfer. The rest will be easily spent on rent, food and drink. I have been promised an itemised list but I am too busy right now.

Got to go now!

Day 20: 7th

I am starting to run more courses today, so I will be busy for the next few days.

The laundry was a success. I got some clean work clothes now. It only cost £30 egyptian which is slightly less than £3 UK.

I encountered the neighbour’s dog for a third time. He woke up, barked and ran since I was walking straight towards him.

Day 19: 6th

I think I am doing a membership exam for the SSDM later today. I am not sure what to expect but we will see what we will see.

The centre is quiet as we have only a few divers and they have gone on the North camel safari. We are expecting more groups Monday and onwards. I don’t mind another day off but I am about ready to get back in the water.

I was looking at a divers digital camera and the photos he was producing without a strobe. It was fairly impressive just using the manual white balance. The camera was a Canon ex-z1000 in a ewc-80 case. I might get that or similar one when I get back to the UK.

Update: I just got back from the SSDM exam. It was a bit strange. There were three areas of questions (Dahab diving, Sharm diving and Environmental). The Sharm questions were really easy. The Dahab questions were really subjective and could be argued both ways in most cases. The environmental questions each had a little factoid about the environment before each question with really strange informal language used throughout. We paid £200 Egyptian. Now we apparently wait for the cards to be produced.

I was talking to big Tom about bugs in our houses. Apparently they are quite common. In the last two weeks I have seen two geckos, two cockroach and a few other beetles. I feel releaved it is not just me! Some time I will get the camera out but the geckos are very fast.

Day 18: 5th

Last night I we did the canyon night dive again. We only do it with people who have experience with deep and night diving and are “not likely” to be a problem. We turn off the torches at 30m when we are inside the canyon so the effect of nitrogen narcosis is very significant. About be could see a distant outline of the water surface (it was being lit by about a half moon).

We I was laying on the bottom, looking up I felt the novelty of breathing underwater again and the feeling we must be crazy for doing this. I have not felt that way for about 4 years on scuba. This was probably the effect of narcosis.

I ascended before the rest of the group because I was buddying with someone on air. We left with 5 minutes before NDL (time remaining). We went through the cave, perhaps not recommended procedure on a night dive and found there was a lion fish sitting in the exit. I had to wait nervously in the cave for it to get out of the way.

I heard after we had left, the remaining time in the canyon were a bit chaotic and scary – shame I missed it!

After finishing the open water course and the night dive I was very tired. I slept from midnight to about 1PM today. To day is a day off. I left my laundry for cleaning (14 items should be about £35 Egyptian, £3.50 UK).

Day 17: 4th

The neighbours dog was back just inside our shared front gate. It started barking as soon as it saw me. Since I was expecting this, I just grabbed a stick and held it about my head, and the dog ran off. I think I am going to have to have a talk with the owner if I can get myself introduced (preferably in a dog free environment) and try to solve this.

Last day of the course I am running. I am going south for different diving I think. Getting the permission forms at the marine police place takes about 20 to 25 minutes which is annoying in 40C+ heat.

Update: I have virtually finished my first start to end open water course. It went well I think but next time will be better! The forecast for the next few days is warm but I am not sure how hot this month is going to get. I may or may not be having a day off tomorrow. I need to get my clothes to the laundry which is opposite the hotel/dive centre. I have run out of clean work clothes (t-shirts with the Fantasea logo) so hopefully get this sorted soon.

I am having a third dive for fun in the canyon tonight.

Day 16: 3rd

Been really busy in the last few days with an open water course. Two days to go. This is the first time I am running the open water course solo. So far so good.

No sign of the neighbours dog in the last 24 hours which is good (for his sake).

I just got my restaurant bill for the last 14 days which is about 1100 egyptian or 100 UK pounds. This includes beer and water.

Update: I saw a camera with white balance features today, the photo quality was very good. It has the advantage of adding colour to most of the picture unlike a strobe which is localised in effect. It needs to be reset when changing depth but might be more flexible than a colour filter. I might get one when I get a chance. My video is great but very bulky.

Day 15: 2nd

On my way out of my house one of my neighbours dogs suddenly started barking at me. He ran away when I shouted at him but I don’t think we are friends yet. 🙂 I think I am more of a cat person.

Day 14: 1st August

I wanted to add to what I said below about my diet: compared to the UK, I have greatly increased the amount of physical activity I do. I also do not have any snacks through the day, just three meals (and beer and water). I will check if my body weight has changed in October when I am back in the UK or when I encounter a set of scales. It would be interesting to compare to my original weight (from my dive medical in Feb).

I spent the last two days doing guided dives which were fun and straight forward. My next for days will probably be a bit more intense as I am running a course.

Update: Oh man, I forgot how hard running the open water course is.