Sunday, August 8, 2010
With our unanticipated bonus week in Dahab we had time to take in some more of the Red Sea and the relaxed vibe which underpins the town. I decided to take advantage of the inexpensive diving and take another step towards reaching my goal of becoming a dive master during our travels. I signed up for my Rescue Diver class and spent the next four days refreshing all of my Emergency First Responder skills and learning about water rescue techniques. I was excited for the class but also a little anxious about underwater drills involving "panicked" divers. It turned out my anxiety was not misplaced when I found myself in the middle of our rescue drills and my instructor clawing away at every piece of equipment I was wearing. My job was to engage the "victim" (aka being attacked by the teacher), control him, and get him safely back to shore. At one point during the underwater version of the exercise (between 10-20 feet down)I was literally left with nothing more than the regulator in my mouth and all of my equipment strewn across the seabed--panicked diver, how a bout psychotic diver! Anyway, after coughing up a tremendous amount of sea water and getting my butt kicked for a couple of days I passed the exam and completed my last prerequisite to becoming a dive master.
Catherine and I snorkeled almost every day. We swam through different reefs up and down the coast line ultimately deciding that the reef wall off of our front porch was still the best. We were very disheartened (to the point that I almost did not include this next bit of commentary in the blog entry) by the amount of trash we ran across on the beach and in the water. There were times it was so disgusting that we actually would cut our swim short and head for shore. I know littering is a problem that all countries/societies face but I think the contrast in Dahab was so great it just took us by complete surprise. On one hand you have some of the most magnificent untouched reef/water in the world full of life and a paradise for snorkelers and divers. At the same time you see water bottles and plastic bags everywhere! I can't tell you how many times I would observe locals finish a drink, snack, whatever and simply drop the waste right on the ground where they stood. It was really sad and I wondered what on earth could be done to help the situation. I realize the easiest job in the world is to be a critic and I don't mean to be bitching about Dahab or its people--but it was very eye opening. I've been thinking a lot about how individuals can help make positive changes in other cultures--activism, education, technology? I don't know, but trash is a real problem that has been created by humans and will ultimately have to be dealt with by humans. With that I'll wrap up my rant, but would love to talk with anyone who has some real actionable thoughts on this subject.
Catherine was in yoga almost daily working towards her own goal of becoming a yoga instructor one day. I went only one time and was sore for about 4 days afterward--definitely not a wimpy sport. Despite the trash we still had a blast swimming together and identifying different fish. We also found a Thai restaurant (run by real Thais) which we ate at three times that week--yum! The downtime also gave us time to do some travel planning and we are very excited to have our itinerary set for the next two months.
I had wanted to take some last shots of Dahab at night and it was our last night in town. We had our final dinner on the water and ordered way too much fresh seafood. It was delicious but we had to waddle back down the beach path to our hotel. Early Saturday morning we loaded up in the hotel owner's car and drove through the mountains of Sinai south towards Sharm El Sheik and onwards to Istanbul.