Day 72: 30th

James and John have arrived and are staying at my house. We have been busy diving and James has finished his open water course. We have done a few good dives. Steve (my regular dive buddy) is arriving tomorrow and we plan to do one dive, probably The Islands.

We are trying to arrange some non-diving activities by talking to the people at Embra but they are closed until after Ramadan breakfast. John decided to take our little group for a drink to kill time so I will now have to wander down the road to find him…

Day 69: 27th

At last, a day out of the water! I have been busy in the last few days and some small amount of recovery time is good.

An instructor colleague had her dog attacked yesterday by local children and the dog was almost unresponsive today with shock. It is a sad but obsolete tradition that dogs are evil (or forbidden in some cases). I find it interesting when animal rights are militant in the UK but its still early days here…

It is noticably cooler in the last few days. Some staff were shivering when we finished diving yesterday! We are probably not going to get much sympathy from UK divers. 🙂

Day 67: 25th

Ramadan appears to have started. For muslims, eating, drinking and smoking are not allowed between dawn and sunset. This makes the Egyptian staff tired in the evening and perhaps caused my order of a cheese toastie be forgotton. (I was really hungry on the night dive!)

I have completed my final rent payment which has given me a sense of the limited time I have remaining in Egypt. I am expecting to end routine work commitments tomorrow with two guided dives. We were running a rescue course today and I got to pay dead for a while.

Day 66: 24th

I just finished writing an update but I accidentally closed the browser window and lost the text. Very annoying. All fine otherwise.

Day 64: 22nd

We were in Tota until 12:30 last night. It is the first time in years I had been and it’s still good.

I have two or three days work arranged. I then plan to “retire” from day to day instructing at Fantasea.

Day 62: 20th

My open water course divers wanted a day postponement which was totally fine by me. I am now resting and out of the water. We should finish the course tomorrow.

I went to El Dorado last night for food and they gave me a free pizza voucher. That is probably because I am bringing extra custom from the dive centre. I often wonder if this is a possible conflict of interest except for one factor – its my favourite restaurant and the pizza is excellent. 🙂

Thiland just had a miltiary coup so I am wondering if this will affect my trip. I will monitor the situation as the Forgein Office suggests.

Two nights ago it was so hot in my house at night and it was hard to sleep. I got a temperature measurement of 30C at about 3AM from my dive computer! It was cooler last night and that is set to continue.

I finished the book Toasting Eros which I enjoyed. The last third went off on so many tangents and discussions about “true love” that I found slightly annoying. (That point is partially addressed in the book – how men want the discussion to stay on “the subject at hand”.) It also had an unresolved ending which was probably better than the other options I guess.

I have about a week before John and James arrive and I have not decided what I will do but I will fit something in that time.

Day 61: 18th

The days move along . . . over and over . . one day indistinguishable from the next. . . a long chain . . and suddenly there is change. Ok I borrowed that line from from the film Taxi Driver.

No news here actually. The weather forcast seems to be getting much cooler at the end of the week.

Day 60: 17th

I have begun another open water course. Thanks to the modular nature of the course, I managed to sit around for almost the entire day relaxing – I think I needed it. I did have to go back into the water at one point but it was 24 hours after the previous dive which is enough to allow release of nitrogen (I think). Maximum depth for today was 3 metres. I now have about 18 hours until my next dive.

I am still not entirely sure why had my day off cancelled but I can’t really speculate here. I think I need the agreement written in blood – lol.

Day 60: 16th

The day off is in doubt at the moment. The situation is fluid. Not very happy here.

Day 59: 15th

I have been feeling a bit drained of energy recently (mainly too much having diving and fun). I plan to get some early nights now and I have the day off on 17th thankfully. By tomorrow, I will have done 100 dives since I arrived. Also after tomorrow, I have no specific work commitments so we cannot be that busy.

I started the book Toasting Eros by Louise Kean. So far so good.

The neighbours have almost completed a dividing wall that will hopefully make my way to home a dog free route. There is still a gap which is either temporary or they will fit a door.

Day 57: 13th

I am working away and having fun. We went to El Dorado last night for a bite of Italian food. It was excellent as always. I finished the book ‘Tis by Frank McCourt which was a good read and funny.

I saw the neighbours building work but I still can’t understand what they are planning to do. I will have another look tomorrow.

At the dive centre we have started pushing decompression chamber insurance to customers (and staff). My current situation is if I needed treatment (which is hopefully never), I apparently pay in cash (3000 Euro for one treatment) and claim it back which takes a few months. That could put a dent in the ol’ bank account. That reminds me I am going to copy down all the emergency numbers for Dahab now.

Day 56: 12th

People are commenting that winter is coming. The forcast predicts it will start to cool down this week very slightly. We are often seeing clouds in the sky which had been a rare occurance. The wind is a fair breeze and the wind surfers are going up and down Masbat Bay and Laguna very quickly.

My neighbours (who previously demolished and rebuilt our shared front gate) continue their home improvements. They were digging a trench from their house towards the gate. I am really hoping this will eventually wall in the dog (who I don’t like) so I never see him again. I still slightly dread opening the front gate but the dog now runs away quickly.

As staff, we get to pick the music playlists 🙂 so I copied selected mp3 music tracks on to the main computer. I am glad I often hear people put on some of my playlists from time to time (hopefully not just to keep me happy). This is good because when I listen to my personal stereo at home, I usually fall asleep within 5 minutes.

In other news, the world failed to end. That should remind us of the need for critical thinking I would say!

Day 55: 11th

There is not much news here. I finished another open water course so I am unwinding for a bit. According to the work schedule i am doing open water courses until John and James come out. They can be hard work and constantly diving the Lighthouse Reef can be repetitive. Oh well.

I missed my cousin Ann Marie’s wedding. That is one draw back of being abroad. 🙁

Day 53: 9th

We are still busy working. The day temperature forcast is 48C and night is 26C but the wind is blowing so we don’t really notice.

I had several reminders on how diving depends on keeping healthy and how fragile (in some ways) the body can be. Also I was reminded how much responsibility we have as instructors and guides. One group was swept past their planned exit point so had to swim like crazy to get back against the current. Scuba diving is not like a tour around Disney land but a visit to a potentially hosile environment where anything can happen.

Our resident DM is stuck doing paperwork at the centre with ear problems. Another instructor returned to work a few days ago, again from ear problems. It is really important to have other skills when not diving to make ends meet. I don’t know if I could find a software job in case I could not go diving. (If anyone from work is reading this – don’t worry – I am not getting a software job elsewhere! I am just thinking out loud. And get back to work – what are you doing wasting time on this page?!)

I finished watching the film Sideways which was excellent.

Day 51: 7th

I was in Sharm yesterday seeing friends. We were diving at Sinai Dive Club at the Hilton Shark’s Bay. It was a good change to dive somewhere new. The dive centre staff were really helpful and friendly.

I got to sharm on the 8:30 bus since the 8:00 did not turn up. That cost me an amazing 11 egypian pounds (LE) (about 1 UK pound). The taxi cost me 60 LE to the Hilton which was a bit steep. The driver was a bit of a cowboy as he kept trying to increase the price because he went to the wrong place and we had to drive further. The driver did offer to drive me back to Dahab for only 100LE.

The diving in Shark’s Bay was comparible to Moray Garden in Dahab. We saw an impressive amount first dive (stingray, giant puffer, moray eel) but not so much the second dive (several picassofish). There was an almost constant drone of speed boats going from the hotels.

I had lunch at the Hilton which cost me 50LE as a guest of the dive centre. It was good especially the dessert – very hungry. Although it was an all inclusive hotel, this did not apply to me since I was not staying at the hotel. Dave aquired some drinks from the bar to keep me going.

To get back to Dahab I wandered out of the hotel to look for my taxi man. Another taxi offered to drive me for 200LE which was tempting since there is a lot less hassle getting the bus, but Dave haggled him down to 100LE (thanks for that). Since the first driver was a no show I went with this second driver. I needed to navigate through Dahab since he did not know where the hotel was but we managed.

Now I am back doing open water courses.

Day 49: 5th

No particular news today. I am planning to get the 8AM bus to Sharm and probably the 9PM bus back.

The landlord put the new gates in last night but the mechanism (a little pull string) to open it from the outside has already broken. Hopefully he has fixed it by tonight or I am going to have to climb the wall.

Day 48: 4th

We are busy again. Three or four groups are diving simultaniously. Working tomorrow doing deep (30 metre) dives at the Canyon and Blue Hole. Wednesday I am going to Sharm. Thursday we are going on a boat trip south to Gabr el Bint but I am not sure if I am working on that day.

Steve Irwin (the Australian environmentalist) was killed by a stingray while diving which is sad.

I started watching the movie Sideways last night be we got interupted by new customers arriving. No rest for the wicked I suppose. I will hopefully carry on with it tonight. I might have mentioned interrupting films (especially for the first viewing) is one of my pet hates.

Day 46: 2nd

I was planning to working today but the customer is a no show (at least by lunch time). The most likely possibility is she found a cheaper dive centre somewhere. It is a shame really since I think Fantasea Divers costs are required to keep the equipment maintained and everything running properly. It is better to pay for good equipment and air fills than have it fail. I have no problem with some commercialisation after a local dive centre back in Ashford disappeared – now I have to dive much further to get air fills.

I heard a diver died two days ago at the Blue Hole. This is a tragic event and should remind us that scuba diving is a sport with some risks. On the other hand any activity has risks so try to use some rationality here.

I am still reading ‘Tis which I am enjoying.

We were discussing the work allocations for September and it looks like we will be busy. The timing was not great but I have asked for either Wednesday or Thursday off to go down to Sharm. I will be doing guided dives for the remainer of the time.

I passed on John and James’s flight details to Chriss to get the transfers organised. (Hi guys!) The arrival times are 17:30 and 20:30 which is quite far apart in time. Perhaps I can go down to the airport and we can kill some time in Sharm and wait for the second flight to arrive. Not sure at the moment.

I really don’t like Sharm airport but at least it has air conditioning. The steps to get out of Sharm airport (for independent travellers like us) are:

  • Fill in the arrival card while on the aircraft, put in Coral Coast Hotel, Dahab if you need a destination address. They like neat writing at passport control.
  • Get off the aircraft, hopefully you are wearing only t-shirt and shorts in the summer.
  • Bus transfer to airport
  • Go into terminal, ignore the tour reps.
  • Turn left, go to any of the counters, ask for a visa which will cost about 15 UK pounds. They last for 30 days. (Apparently they are not required for some parts of the Sinai but I don’t want to complicate things at this stage).
  • They should give you two stamps – stick them in a blank passport page
  • Turn around, join a queue for passport control. It may be worth changing queues because some people have a problem and it can take 15 minutes to sort it out. The passport control guy takes the arrival card and stamps the passport.
  • Behind the passport control booths there is a guard checking each passport is stamped.
  • Ignore the people renting trollys or anyone helping you with your luggage. Ignore anyone asking for a tip.
  • Pick up your luggage. This can be quite chaotic. Remember to check around the baggage belt on the floor.
  • Walk out exit through customs. The duty free price for alcohol at Sharm airport is high, so get that in the UK.
  • There will be about 30 drivers waiting for their customers. Look around for the Fantasea Divers sign. For me this has taken between 5 seconds to 2 minutes. The driver sometimes goes away for a quick nap apparently.
  • This driver can carry your luggage.
  • Ride in taxi to Dahab which takes about 1 hour 15 min. There are two checkpoints on the road where the driver just chats with the police apparently. It is quite common for taxi drivers to give friends or police a lift or pop into the shops. An important rule in Egypt is to expect the unexpected.
  • If you want and are not too stressed out but the crazy arabic music and suicidal driving habits, you can trip the driver (50 egyptian I do).
  • See me at the bar in front of the dive club (failing that ring me on my mobile).

Day 45: 1st Sept

Today will be another brief update. I have finished my book Hard Boiled Wonderland. I have started ‘Tis: A Memoir by Frank McCourt. I have been diving today and I expect to be doing one working dive tomorrow. Dave has arrived from the UK and I am doing down to Sharm to see him when we set a time and date.