The warm breeze filtering through the Yacht as the sun burns on unforgivingly, while divers are are diving in the mysterious blue sea beneath the Yacht in search of the many sea creatures that the Red Sea harbours. Anchored peacefully and bobbing afloat overlooking Tiran Island, the sea is calm, fellow divers and snorkelers joyfully drying off the salt sea water off tanned and glowing skin and comparing notes on the fish they have just seen. Sharm El Sheik’s beauty attempts to hide the complicated situation and language of bullets that is spoken in Egypt’s capital and the popular tourist spot of Alexandria and Cairo.
Just days ago I stood overlooking the beautiful Shard at the station that is suspended over the River Thames creating the first train station platform to span the Thames. Boarding the train at Blackfriars I picked up the Metro newspaper which had a rather startling cover story about the conflict in Egypt and there I was heading to Egypt on holiday. All against the wishes of my family. Summoned to check in daily as they wondered why I would choose to visit a country where 800 had died in 4 days in the rioting and intense standoff that I am sure you have no doubt also seen on the news in your countries where you are.
I had been looking at the government advice about the area of Sharm El Sheik and it has repeatedly said the resort is perfectly safe to visit. As I sat writing this post on a beautiful Yacht having sailed from Shark’s Bay and over to Tiran Island I can honestly say that there wasn’t a moment I felt unsafe. It’s like we are in a totally different country and not the same country seen on the TV with scenes of human chains and tear-gased Rames Square.
|That moment you realise what you have just signed up for|
The locals in Sharm had the usual African charm that I am so familiar with. Welcoming and inviting. Greetings from strangers on the resort as if you weren’t strangers meeting for the first time, allowing you to forget that you are in a fragile country with democracy crumbling right before you. Surprising, the stories I heard from the locals painted a different story to that we are shown on TV, so do bear that in mind when you watch the news reports.
Although the English spoken by some of the locals is not perfect, you would be surprised just how multi-lingual they are. Most can communicate in Russian, Italian and English, in addition to the Arabic. I, in the meantime, I am struggling to remember the Arabic I learned whilst studying at university, nevertheless the few words and sentences I can put together bring on laughter like no other. Between the little I know and the Arabic my boyfriend was recalling(partly due to the similarity with his native Hebrew) we got by just fine.
I didn’t visit Egypt, however, to go shopping. I went to absorb a little bit of the culture and history. I wanted to see the Pyramids of Giza, Luxor temple and dance around to Amr Diab under the starlit nights while conversing with the beduins (albeit in my rather dodgy Arabic). Unfortunately, plans had changed due to the current situations. Egypt has such a history and has faced far worse in its past that I am sure they will pull through this. I hope to return to a peaceful country when I return for a second visit to see the pyramids(just don’t tell my sisters who threaten to confiscate my passport if I head back to Egypt before the conflict settles)
Leaving the national crisis behind and looking at the horizon. Watching the sun come up from our beachfront room on the Egyptian Rivera I managed to do something that used to frighten the climbing shoes off my feet! Diving!!
|Cant run away now, I am going in…|
Some of you may have seen me post on Twitter or my facebook page a few weeks ago about my diving session in London. This was in a pool and after arriving 1.5 hours late and going through the paperwork left very little time for the diving session itself. Nevertheless, it came in handy and the skills I learned also gave me an insight on to what to do should my face mask or mouthpiece come off while sea diving.
That moment had come. Finally in the Red Sea, one of best places for diving in the world. After going through the talk on equipment it was show time! Do or die. See it’s those kinda of thoughts that freaks me out but more than anything it’s those very words that allow me to push myself and face my fears and boy did I face them. TWICE!! I also managed to comfortably take my mouthpiece off 3 times 12 meters underwater, although when I was told I would be doing this I thought both my boyfriend and the diving instructor had let the compressed air get to their heads for coming up with such a ridiculous idea of taking my lifeline off my face.
|Finding Nemo – 12 meters DEEP!|
|Mingling with the School of Fish.|
|Peace and harmony in the calm waters.|
The first sea diving session was scary to start but sinking 12 meters below sea level and coming face to face with the most beautiful sights hidden in the sea left me in awe that I went in for a second dive after lunch.
My boyfriend, a licenced diver who seemed to take to the seas like a fish was in and out of water as natural as the fish we encountered. The trip to Tiran Island was to be the 6th dive in the first 4 days we had been there. While I only managed snorkelling around the bay that day he managed a cool 18 meters below and spotted sting ray and a 2-meter shark!! Well I guess they don’t call it Shark’s bay for anything!
|Shipwreck near Tiran Island|
|Return of the divers|
It’s amazing just how calm things are down there. The colours of the coral, the different shapes andcolours of the fish. Some of the fish can be found so still in one position, just floating. This was a really magical experience and one that I will keep for time to come. I will definitely consider doing a PADI diving certification at the end of the year if not early next year which will allow me to diving anywhere in the world.
|Swimming like a fish|
I conquered my fears and faced them head on! I also managed to spot Nemo along the way. So next diving stop after Sharm El Sheik I am thinking Ik Kil Cenote although perhaps to small for diving so maybe snorkelling.
Still need to put all the pictures from the different SD cards and edit the video to put the diving video clips from the dives, so look out for that in the next week before I take a short break to sort out some exams for work.(Working as hard as I play! – These holidays don’t pay for themselves you know 😉
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|Not exactly on solid ground but above water, at least!|
So have you tried diving before or been on holiday whilst some of the country was in some crisis? What was your experience like?
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