Diving in Dahab, Red Sea, Egypt
Trip Start Sep 30, 2009
23Trip End Jan 30, 2010
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Accommodation was at Christina's Hotel (a boutique hotel run by a Swiss woman married to an Egyptian) it boasted a lovely pool and beach front rooms
Interestingly one can see 20kms across to the Saudi Arabia coastline from the beach at Dahab. Apparently an inexperienced Japanese windsurfer was blown all the way across and given a very cool reception. He was then flown directly back via helicopter, which left him a few thousand euro’s out of pocket. Saudi does not need or encourage tourists.
The first day we all snorkelled while Chris dived. The spot was called Moray Gardens. Very dramatic site with the high, barren, brown cliffs behind you and the beautiful blue sea before you. Each day many Bedouin (native Arab people) children tried to sell us various trinkets they had made. Sadly only 5% of Bedouin children attend school, they live a nomadic, subsistent lifestyle. Very different to the ones the Sewter children are accustomed to.
Next day off to the Blue Hole, and despite its intimidating reputation as a danger zone for careless divers we were instantly captivated, as the top of the reefs are teeming with life
Of course watching Chris dive gave the children a hunger to do the same, so next day we were back to Moray Gardens for the children to do an Introduction to Diving lesson. Mitchell and Olivia did well hence decided to go on and get their open water dive ticket. Ryan was a little freaked out with the whole experience and so pulled the plug on his intro dive. That night he was somewhat upset at the thought of his siblings being divers and not him, so negotiated his way into another introductory course, which he passed.
Robyn not wanting to be outdone decided to commence her dive ticket with Ryan (having got clearance from her doctor for her asthma), however she suffers from ear pain in aircrafts when ascending and descending thus when diving only down two meters experienced terrible ear pain, which she could not overcome
Mohamed another lovely Egyptian Instructor ended up taking the now qualified males in the family for another few dives and Ryan and Mitchell especially enjoyed him, he treated them like younger brothers.
When the children decided to do their dive tickets it spurred Chris into completing his advanced open water course. This required him to complete five dives with a fabulous instructor, Ahmed, a real Egyptian gentleman (he had a daughter Olivia’s age, so was interested in her and took time to gently draw her into conversation). Chris dived to a depth of 30m and one of the dives was at night, which he enjoyed very much.
We met a lovely couple from Sweden at Moray Gardens, Marika and Joakim. They taught Ryan how to play Yatzy and met us for dinner a couple of times. We really enjoyed their company. We are hoping that we have persuaded them to join us for a camping holiday in NZ
A break from the water for one day meant a visit to the St Katherine’s Monastery situated at the bottom of Mount Sinai. The Monastery is quite remote and the only part you are permitted to enter is the ornately decorated 6th century Church of the Transfiguration. In the church’s courtyard it has a large bush planted at the spot where it is thought Moses encountered the burning bush. A 'typically’ French man called Alain arranged the trip for us and we joined him and a lovely couple, Berenice (French) and John (English) on this expedition. Berenice and John took a great liking to our children and she especially had a soft spot for Ryan. He has this way of charming older woman!!!!! We couldn’t have chosen a nicer group to go with.
After viewing the Monastery we commenced our mission to trek to the top of Mount Sinai and watch the sun set. It was a punishing hike, climbing the 2500m to the top. There were two well defined routes to the summit, the Camel Trail and the Steps of Repentance which met about 300m below the summit at a plateau known as Elijah’s Basin. A 500 year old cypress tree is planted in the spot where Elijah heard the voice of God. At this point everyone must take the steep series of 750 rocky and uneven steps to the top
As soon as the sun had set, we commenced our descent. This time the route we took was the entire 3750 steps of repentance (built by one monk who I hope received his just reward) back to the monastery. It was only half an hour and darkness had descended. Certainly was hard work coming down, more so for Ryan and Mitchell who have no depth perception. We shared torches and very much appreciated the help of the mandatory Bedouin guide. It took over two hours to descend and when we weren’t in the shadow of the mountain appreciated the light from the full moon. The downward climb required strong knees and careful concentration when placing our feet.
Back at Dahab we stumbled upon this wonderful Italian/Egyptian Restaurant *(Ramez and Paolo’s) on the water front, and it quickly became out favourite (there are numerous restaurants to chose from and not all of them fantastic)
On the last night we invited our Diving Instructors, Kai. Ahmed and Mohamed to have dinner with us at our favourite eating place. We had a great night with them. Dahab has been a very social place and we thrived on it.
We also became very aware of how privileged we are to live in NZ. The average Egyptian earns the equivalent of NZ$125 a month!!!!!! A drive around the back of the Dahab, when returning to the dive centre, was an eye opener. People live in very poor conditions. Goats were running everywhere and as there is no real infrastructure, household rubbish is strewn all over the streets.
This has been a wonderful adventure and we take away memories which will last a life time.
Next stop Jordan.