As mentioned in my previous post, I was going on holiday with Amor and I was slightly apprehensive. It seems that he was as well. Holidays can make or break some couples and both of us wanted to have a good time.
I am usually the type of person that has to be in control of things. I know I have control issues and have been dealing with them for years. I put my control issues aside when dancing. I have learned how to defer in certain matters and I decided that I would let Amor take the lead on this holiday. After all, Amor is a qualified dive master and has over 400 dives under his belt. This is his third scuba diving trip this year. I haven’t dived in three years. It wasn’t going to kill me to follow his lead for a week.
The first day of the holiday was spent mainly travelling. It was pretty uneventful. Up very early, drive to the airport, check-in, and hang around until our flight was ready to board. It was a long flight and the food was rubbish. We arrived. It was hot and sunny. Amor got our visas and navigated us through immigration and to collect our luggage. There was a long wait for our luggage. We got on the coach and drove to our hotel. Amor checked us in. We went for a beer while one of the porters pushed the beds together. Our hotel does not have double beds. It is a 3 star hotel attached to a 5 star dive center. Many scuba divers travel alone or share a room with a friend, hence the single beds. There were three in our room! Most of the one’s time is spent all day on the dive boat or lounging by the pool. The hotel is very clean, but basic. At the end of a day’s diving, all I care about is having a shower, air-conditioning, and a clean, comfy bed to sleep on before I have to get up at 7 in the morning! Oh, and an ice cold beer wouldn’t go amiss.
It was slightly strange being back at the place where we first met. There was a sense of déjà vu. Before, we were strangers who became friends. Now, we are friends and lovers. Diving people are generally very friendly and it turned out that some people Amor met in March were back again. I was introduced to Dee and instantly made a new friend. Dee is a crazy diver. She actually dives in the North Sea! Not surprising since she lives in Hull and it’s the closest body of ocean. Too cold for me!
After our ice cold beer, Amor and I went across the road for some dinner before heading off to bed. We had an early start. A diving holiday, although relaxing in it’s own way, does not allow one to have a lie in – plenty of time to have a snooze on the boat in between dives.
We woke up bright and early, 7am. As our room was practically next to the dining room, Amor nipped out and brought coffee to the room! What a star! Coffee in bed! We had to meet at the dive center at 8am to find out what we were doing that day. We had booked a six day dive package that included two dives a day, plus an optional one if enough people were interested.
After filling in a bunch of paperwork, I was going to have my scuba review (I hadn’t dived in three years) in Naama Bay and Amor was going to do some local diving. When we arrived at the dive center in Naama Bay, I was handed a test where I was required to answer questions on scuba diving. There were four of us doing the scuba review and I was the only female. When we were finished, our dive instructor graded our test and he reviewed the questions that we may have gotten wrong and made sure we understood the correct answer. This wasn’t a pass or fail test. In fact, I got most of them correct and there were only a few that we needed to review.
After the test, we organised the rest of our diving gear. I needed to hire a wet suit, BCD, and regulator. I had my lovely new fins and boots that Amor bought me for my birthday, my mask and snorkel. Once we all had our kit together our instructor explained in detail, with diving sign language, the tasks we were required to do under water. After going through all the exercises verbally, we went to get our kit on and go into the water. Getting our kit on wasn’t a big problem, but walking down to the beach and getting to the section of beach where we could enter was a bit of a palaver. I am not a big fan of offshore diving and having to carry a heavy air tank on my back is not much fun. Fortunately the water was calm so it wasn’t too big a deal putting on my fins in the water. Besides, that is what a dive buddy is for, to help you.
Once we were all ready we descended to the sandy bottom to do our exercises: (1) We were going to have to take our regulators out of our mouth for a moment. While the regulators were out, we had to breathe out (make a sound like oooooh) as it is dangerous to hold one’s breath underwater. Then we had to put them back in and clear them with a breath before we could resume normal breathing. (I can imagine the look on some of your faces if this is unfamiliar to you!) (2) Then we had to do it again, but this time purging the regulator before taking a breath. (3) The next exercise was to take our regs out and drop them, all the while going ooooooh, and then find them and put them back in, purging before taking a breath. This is a good exercise to know in case your regulator gets knocked out of your mouth for any reason. (4) Then we worked on mask clearing. We had to fill our masks half way and then clear them with our nose. I did a lot of this during the week as my mask for some reason, probably because of my hair, kept filling up. (5) The next one was to fill up the mask completely and clear with our nose, and finally (6) we had to take our masks off completely and put them back on and clear. (7) The next exercise we had to do was to pretend we were out of air and share air with our buddy. This involved giving the signal for being out of air which is to draw a line across your neck, at which point your buddy will put his hands up to allow you to grab the emergency regulator so you can put it in your mouth and breathe from it.
I can hear you all thinking ‘bloody heck’, but there is more. We next had to work on our buoyancy, which I had trouble with the last time I dived. We eventually got the hang of it. I can’t remember every single exercise we had to do, but there were about eleven and we just did them. We were underwater for 52 minutes at 5 meters before we had to head back to shore and for a lunch break.
The worst part of the scuba review was walking back to the dive center along the sand with wet gear and a heavy tank. It was good exercise for my legs, ha! After our break we had to suit up all over again and walk back along the beach again! It was a relief to get back into the water as it was very hot outside and to take the weight off my back and legs.
We had just one last exercise and then we were going to explore with our instructor. We just had to pretend we were out of air and do an emergency ascent, except that we didn’t actually ascend, we had to swim along a line at the bottom, all the while saying oooooooh, without taking a breath, until we reached our marker. This is not as easy as it sounds, as when one is actually ascending the air in one’s lungs and BCD is expanding, which allows you to do ooooooooooh relatively easily and without feeling you need to take a breath. What we were going to do in our exercise was to take a deep breath and then swim, slowly exhaling all the way as it is dangerous to hold your breath underwater when using a regulator. I am afraid that I had to take a breath just before my mark, but I passed anyway as that is quite hard to do. Normally, we would do this exercise at the end of the dive, or in a pool, but our instructor seemed satisfied with our skills.
We followed our instructor to a small patch of reef that was near the shore. There was some interesting coral and a few fish swimming about. Nothing I hadn’t seen before or worth noting, such as a couple of trigger fish and parrot fish. Pretty, but quite common. After half an hour of swimming around, we started to head back to shore. On the way back I caught sight of a couple clown fish in the coral and went to have a closer look. I tried to stay very still as the larger of the two started to come up to me. Eventually, he swam right in front of me and looked me straight in the eye. How cool is that! I hadn’t been eyeballed by a clown fish before. I must have been too close to his home.
After our 3 minute safety stop, we headed back to shore and to the school. All I could think about was that this was going to be the last time I had to walk along the shore with a heavy tank on my back in the heat.
There was a section of beach we had to walk past with the sun loungers for the hotel. The first thing that greeted me was a very thin woman with a massive pair of exposed fake boobs. I couldn’t believe it! We were in a Muslim country for goodness sake. I found that extremely rude, considering that right next to her was the hut where a guard was sitting to stop the riff-raff from using the sun loungers. Jeeze! Since we all had to walk past this woman, she was the main topic of conversation while we were waiting for the bus. The consensus was that she was Russian, but when I saw her with her top on and talking to her child, it was clear that she was English from her accent. I think that if one is travelling to another country, it is a good idea to respect the codes and traditions of that culture.
Our bus arrived and we went back to our hotel where I caught up with Amor and a nice cold Sakara beer. It is a tradition among divers to meet at the bar and compare notes on each other’s diving experience. The big things to see this week were dolphins, manta rays, hammerheads, and whale sharks. Amor doesn’t believe whale sharks exist as he has never seen one before. (I had, in Kenya :-)) I met a few new people as I was going to be on the same boat with them the next day, with Amor being my dive buddy. After a couple of beers and light hearted banter, it was time to get showered and ready for dinner.
We decided to eat in the hotel that evening as they were going to have traditional food and there would also be folkloric dancing. I had been to this the last time I was here and was incredibly impressed with the young man that performed thewhirling dervish. This time, the dancing was a bit different. I didn’t feel that the people performing some of the folkloric dances were actually into it. Apart from one young man, the rest looked pretty bored. The belly dancer this year was better than the last one, though. I was a bit disappointed with the whirling dervish. This time it was a young lady and to her credit, she danced well, but not as well or intensely as the young man I had seen before.
After dinner, Amor and I went for a walk on the other side of the road of our hotel to see what was there. Amor is very good on these little walks. Inevitably, we will be asked if we want a taxi or if we want to buy something and Amor just knows the right thing to say. The last time I was here on my own, I pretty much got dragged into the perfume store, even though I told the young man I wasn’t going to buy anything. I was happy for Amor to be in charge and be manly. One less thing for me to think about. I was starting to like it.
We had a reasonably early night as we had a relatively early start. I had a wonderful day and I fell asleep in Amor’s arms, happy and dreaming of a clown fish looking me in the eye.