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Sunday, January 11, 2009

SCUBA in Egypt

I can't really begin to describe how much fun I am having with this whole SCUBA thing. :) Yes, my big brother was right, and I should have done this long ago. But really, learning to dive in the Red Sea (warm even in winter) really is a lot better than Monterey (cold, all year round!)

We have been doing our SCUBA certification for three days now, and tomorrow will be the final day. The first two days really consisted of a lot of theory (classroom) and some confined water dives, in the shallow water right off of the shore. All went really well, I just needed to get used to taking off my mask underwater and not breathing suddenly with my nose. YUCK! After a few tries, and a throat full of yucky salty water, I figured it out.

Today we got to go on a boat and do two open water dives near a coral reef. I know it is just the beginning, but it was SO neat. It is really cool to be able to just wander around underwater and look at things, without thinking about needing to breathe. I just love it. We saw a bunch of parrot fish, which are just like rainbows under the sea. It is amazing how colorful they are. We also saw a bunch of clown fish (Nemo) and even baby ones maybe only a few centimeteres long. We saw a huge moray eel, peeking out of some huge coral, but it must have been at least 1-2 meters long itself. Very neat. And the amazing part to me is that when you are down there, the fish couldn't care less about you. When I snorkel and dive down, the fish always scatter a bit, but when I am diving the fish are actually curious about what I am and so they swim right next to you. So tomorrow we have another two open water dives and then we will be officially certified. I can't wait to do a real, full dive. :)

Rahima and I all geared up.

Here I go! Look how blue the water is!

Just before we go down. That's me attempting to give the "okay" sign to Jenny on the boat.

Aside from that, the town we are in (Hurghada) is really a large tourist area, mainly for divers. There is a big touristy center with two McDonalds about a block away from each other, followed by a Pizza Hut, Burger King, KFC, etc. There isn't much else to do here, so we will probably leave right after we get certified and maybe do another dive in the Red Sea in another town. Amazingly, it's not just a Cairo thing to drive with your headlights off after dark. When we were coming back from dinner last night we took a taxi back to our hotel. A man followed us out of the restaurant and asked if we needed a taxi because he was a taxi driver. I asked how much to our hotel (we knew it should be about 15 Egyptian pounds). He said "How much for you?" I said "15 pounds". He said, "20 for all three of you". I said, "No, that's too much. Let's start again. I'll go 10 pounds, then we can negotiate up." He laughed and said, "Fine. Let's go." Then he played Egyptian (I think) pop music all the way back to the hotel, turned it up really loud and encouraged us to clap along while he danced/drove. Happiest cab driver I will ever meet I think. :)

Our hotel is really nice too. Relatively speaking of course! We have had a few bumps with things such as hot water, or water pressure. Getting the two at the same time seems to be asking a little too much. Yesterday I literally had to get down on my knees in the shower to get enough water pressure to rinse the conditoner out of my hair! But the hotel staff is really nice. When we came back yesterday the towels had been folded in the shapes of hearts and flowers on the beds. We thought that was a nice touch. Then today, we returned to find one big blanket folded into the shape of a big fish, with Rahima's eye cream bottle as the eye, and the other towels were in the form of an alligator, wearing my Brazil soccer jersey which I had left out! It even had little paper teeth and eyes and nostrils and everything. Some people really do have amazing talents.

Our towel alligator.

Look how cute the teeth are!

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