The Gang Gets Stuck

Trip Start Jun 03, 2009
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Egypt  , Red Sea and Sinai,
Wednesday, August 5, 2009

We arrived in Dahab after another grueling 22 hour bus ride. Some highlights from the bus include blasting Arabic music all through out the night, bright orange curtains cast a headache inducing glow, random stops in the middle of nowhere adding more time to the trip, 7  ticket checks, 3 passport checks, and an incident where Brittany "handed" the tickets to Lindsey but then they mysteriously ended up suck to Brittany's butt. But in Brittany's defense, they were on Lindsey's side of her butt (hope you got the joke from the Pammukale entry). We were all happy to get the help off the bus. Dahab is a beach side town on the Sinai Peninsula that is famous for diving, milkshakes, and sucking in backpackers. We had been hearing great things about Dahab, and were excited to get out of the hassle of Egypt and finally be able to show a little shoulder in the blaring heat.

When traveling, we never book accommodations as it is hard to predict when exactly we will arrive in the location. And usually you can bargain down the price in person as well. We have not yet had a problem with this system of traveling. Until Dahab. When we arrived, the place we planned on staying was full, and so were others close by. We split up in different directions and asked around for prices and met up to discuss our findings. We had decided on a place to stay when Lindsey wanted to run to one last place and ask about a vacancy. She said she would be right back. Sarah, Tom and Brittany waited patiently for her return. Thirty minutes later, still no Lindsey. Brittany went to look for her and no sign of Lindsey. We started to panic and thought she had been kidnapped, so Brittany made Tom go with her to look for Lindsey a second time. No Lindsey. We decided to go to Seven Heaven, the best deal we had found so far. On our way to Seven Heaven we ran into Lindsey, stumbling out of a grocery store with a pineapple soda and bag of chips in hand. Clearly she had been looking hard for us.

We checked into our hotel and Sarah Brittany and Tom signed up for a Scuba open Water Course. The course consists of 5 confined water dives in which you practice skills such as removing your mask, recovering a regulator and emergency breathing and surfacing techniques. There is also a book and DVD series that we had to watch. After the confined water dives you move on to 4 open water dives where you descend up to 15 meters. The cool thing about doing the course in Dahab is that usually the confined water dives are done in swimming pools,. but we got to do ours in the Red Sea.

Our instructor was Mohammed, a Jordanian man who had been living in Dahab for 5 years. Someone had a secret crush on Mohammed, we won't tell you who. The second day Mohammed sold us out, and we had Awie, a South African, as our teacher. Mohammed had been working at various scuba diving places around Dahab. He met a British girl named Vicky who was on a week long holiday in Dahab. After her week was up, she tried to leave, but ended up staying in Dahab. She has now been there one year. Looks like Dahab sucked another person in. We were certain this would not happen to us. Although we would enjoy the phone call to our parents saying "I fell in love with a man named Mohammed from Jordan and I am staying in Egypt."

Our course was four days long. For those four days we "read" the book (Sarah actually did), watched the hilarious DVDs (with beers in hand, yes you can buy alcohol in Dahab), and scuba dived around the Red Sea. We saw lionfish, clownfish, scorpionfish, masked angelfish, parrotfish, seahorses, octopus, and blue-spotted ray. The red sea is an amazing place to scuba dive. Mohammed had a rule for his students. Every time you left your scuba tank standing up more than an arms distance from your body, you had to buy him a beer. At the end of the course Sarah owed Mohammed 4 beers, Tom owed 2 beers within the first 5 minutes of the course, and Brittany owed none until Lindsey tricked her the last day in Dahab.

Since Lindsey is already a certified rescue scuba diver, she went on various independent dives around Dahab. Her dive master was coincidentally also named Mohammed. She went to Lighthouse, The Islands, The Canyon and Blue Hole, and Thistlegorme. The Canyon and The Blue Hole are both dangerous deep dives. During her dive in The Canyon, Lindsey's group spotted an Eagle Ray and chased it down to a depth of 35 meters. At which point a member of her group got freaked out and got narced (when the nitrogen in the air that you breathe starts intoxicating your body at a depth of 30 meters or below). He rapidly ascended to the surface and refused to go back down into The Canyon. Luckily, Mohammed stopped him before he got the bends. Afterwords, Lindsey dove the Blue Hole which is one of the most dangerous scuba dive sites in the world. Since you cannot see the bottom, narced scuba divers often get confused and go down to depths in which their scuba tank air becomes lethal. There are gravestones lining the path to the entrance of the Blue Hole to remember the scuba divers that died at the site. The last gravestone read "Have a great dive, this person died here". The man who freaked out in The Canyon did no better in the Blue Hole. Two minutes into the dive, he made the group surface and decided he was too chicken to dive the Blue Hole. Maybe the gravestones freaked him out. The dive was an amazing dive, you descended down a rock chute to get to 30 meters. At 30 meters there were cleaner fish which when you take out your regulator they will come in your mouth and clean your teeth for you. Lindsey put them in her mouth but was too weirded out to let them clean her ears. From there you swim along a sheer reef edge to get to the blue hole that had amazing coral and beautiful fish. It was cool to see the contrast of the coral on one side and deep blue sea on the other.

The next day Lindsey went on an overnight trip to Thistlegorm and Ros Mohammed. Thistlegorm is a World War II wreck in the middle of the red sea. Sunk by German bomber planes, SS Thistlegorm has lain at the bottom of the sea for over sixty years.  Much of the original cargo still remains, such as tanks, motorcycles, jeeps, bombs, steam engines, and even a room full of boots. . Measuring over four hundred feet long, SS Thistlegorm often requires several dives to complete an extensive coverage, inside and out. Ros Mohammed is a national park in Sinai that has some of the best diving in the red sea. She had to take a bus to Sharm el Sheik to get on the boat to stay for the night. They arrived there at 1 in the morning, and then told to set up their equipment. In her sleepy haze, Lindsey dropped the screw holding the regulator to the tank into the water. The whole crew of the boat had to jump in with flashlights to search for the screw. The search took a good 15 minutes and needless to say they pretty much hated Lindsey for the rest of the time on the boat.

The next morning they arrived at the wreck and were woken up at 6 am to eat breakfast and then get ready to get in the water. They did 2 dives on the wreck, one going around the outside, and one going into the boat. They were both amazing dives, it was fun to play on all off the cargo. On the second dive we were stayed down a little too long and had to have a 15 minute safety stop at 5 meters. The current was strong and we all had to hold on to a rope, and Lindsey got stung by several jellyfish that were floating by. One of the people she was diving with, Lloyd, ran out of air on the safety stop, and Lindsey and him had to buddy share until it was safe to go to the surface.

When we were not in the water, we could be found at a few places in Dahab. During the morning we either had Egyptian breakfast (which Tom was not a fan of) or German Bakery pastries (which Tom was a fan of). During the afternoon we could be found chasing down the Kushary cart man who walked along the waterfront. We also frequented the many cafes and laid on the pillows feeding our milkshake addiction. We had a milkshake every single day, sometimes two, and Brittany was in a fowl mood until she got her daily fix. In the evening we could be found sampling the fresh seafood which was put on display outside the restaurants or at the delicious Thai restaurant above our hostel. So basically, in Dahab we ate and went scuba diving. There were also several bars along the waterfront that we enjoyed beers at with our new scuba diving mates. Upon arriving in Dahab a bright yellow boat bar named "TOTA" immediately caught our attention. We were very disappointed when we found out it was the best bar in Dahab and had shut down due to unknown reasons.

After the four day course, Tagalong Tom left us. He had a lovely 48 hour trip home that included an overnight bus from Dahab to Cairo, a lovely day in the Cairo airport, a flight to Istanbul, a comfy slumber in the Istanbul airport, a flight to Chicago with a screaming child next to him that hit him with bottles, and a flight to Detroit. Egypt was just not the same without him. Mostly because the Egyptian men felt that without a man to protect us, we were free game.

At this point, Lindsey, Sarah and Brittany were supposed to leave Dahab for Jordan. But Dahab lured us in with its comfy cushions, liberal atmosphere, milkshakes, scuba diving, and Thai food. We tried to leave but we simply could not bring ourselves to do it. In all fairness, we were warned.

We booked a trip to Mt. Sinai with our hostel. The bus left at 11pm. We recruited Lloyd from Lindsey's diving trip to be our sherpa for the climb. He is a high altitude climber and adrenaline junkie that was happy to carry our gear. We asked our hostel what to bring and they told us we only needed water. We asked about a flashlight and they told us we definitely did not need one. We were skeptical about this answer because we knew we were climbing up the mountain in the middle of the night, but we listened to their advice anyways. The bus arrived at the base of Mt Sinai around 1am and we started the trek to the top. We were given a guide to help us get to the top, he hiked barefoot. We quickly discovered we did need a flashlight to navigate around the pitch black rocky path and steep steps. Luckily, sherpa Lloyd brought two. Otherwise we would have ended up falling off the edge. It was a fairly easy climb up a dirt path for most of the way. At least we thought it was easy. The two Muslim women in head scarves and flip flops quickly dropped out after 10 minutes. Another couple held hands the entire 2 hour climb to the top. There were camels lining the path for people that wanted to take them to the top. Maybe the Muslim women should have invested in one of them. We walked up the dirt path for about an hour and a half in the middle of the night. The last part of the climb was up 750 steps. It was pretty difficult, especially without a flashlight. Lindsey fell off a step into a ditch and was stuck until sherpa Lloyd came to her rescue. We finally made it to the top and were hassled by numerous Egyptian boys to buy blankets and mats. Please children, its 4 am and we just climbed up a mountain, leave us alone. We were also too hardcore for blankets and mats, we were going to rough it at the top until the sunrise. The children still would not leave us alone. We tried yelling at them and finally had to resort to shining our flashlight in their eyes so they would leave us alone. A boy at our hostel told us where the best place to sit for the sunrise was. We arrived before most other people at the top and secured the best seats in town. It was pretty cold at the top, or so we thought. It was actually around 60 degrees, but after 3 weeks in Egypt it felt below 0. We huddled for warmth at the top of the mountain. An hour in to our "slumber" at the top of the mountain, we had to give in and buy blankets from the children because Brittany's hands had gone numb (even though she was wearing sherpa Lloyd's socks on her hands as mittens). We were woken by nuns singing and 200 people standing around us. To our dismay, two small children had snaked one of our prime seats while we were sleeping. We also discovered, as the sun started to rise, that we were sleeping on the edge of a cliff, and one small move would have plummeted us to our deaths. We watched the amazing sunrise over the mountains. After taking in the scenery, we descended down the mountain by the path of 3,000 steps to Saint Katherine's Monastery. We arrived at the monastery at 7am and it did not open until 9am. We were pissed. We laid down on a rock pile and soon passed out. We woke up just as the monastery was opening. It was not worth the wait. However, we did get to see the infamous burning bush. Did we say burning bush? We mean burning tree. There was a very green tree in the center of a courtyard that everyone was snapping branches off of. We remain skeptical and do not know if this is the actual burning bush.

Sarah decided to get her advanced open water, which would certify her to dive down to 30 meters. The advanced course is 5 more dives, each with a special angle. She decided to do a naturalist dive (looking at fish), a navigation dive (navigating using a compass under water. Much more difficult than on land, but Sarah was a natural), a night dive (she saw a squid ink!), a deep dive (at the canyon) and a drift dive (diving with the current, she did this at the blue hole).

Her instructor was Rob, a Welsh man.  They got along quite well, and he even invited her to stay with him for the rest of her time in Egypt, which was very tempting considering the free air conditioning. The night dive was very cool and we saw coral extending their feathery tendrils that recoiled from our flashlights, glowing fish and other animals, and the squid. The deep dive was Sarah's first time diving to 30 meters, and she expected to feel drunk at the bottom. When she didn't, she decided she wasn't narced and happily swam after Rob. Unfortunately,  she was narced and had forgotten what Rob looked like and followed someone else. Then, she had some serious problems reading her air gauge and got very excited when she saw a sand dollar and pulled Rob back to look at it. Rob was less than excited by this find, but she thinks he was just jealous that he didn't spot it first.

Her last dive was the blue hole, which was very cool. She did not go past 10 meters on this dive, so no need to worry about her happily swimming down to the bottom after the wrong person.

We planned on spending 4 days in Dahab, but we got stuck. After 8 days, Lindsey and Brittany left for Siwa. After 10 days, Sarah left to meet up with them.

Glums and Glows:

Glum: Mask removal exercise
Glow: Squid ink during advanced open water class

Glum: Meso said we didn't need a flashlight causing near death experience
Glow: Thistlegorm

Glum: Thomas leaving
Glow: Milkshakes, Thai food, and being the #1 student

Glum: Leaving Brittany (and Egyptain breakfast)
Glow: Scuba diving
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difox on

Lindsey's jacket ( :
The infamous jacket is finally worth the trip.

peej81 on

No Snuggies?
Waiting for that mountaintop sunrise looked pretty chilly... Didn't anybody pack a Snuggie?!?!

miaanderson on

I have been reading every entry, and reading them to my friends. I am so proud of how brave you all are! I can't wait to join the adventures down the road... Fox, where's my postcards? Love you!

diver on

so what do we have to say

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