I always thought it would be a whole lot harder to learn to dive than it actually was ... probably not helped by the doc who checked us out, giving us the horror stories about asthmatics and our exploding lungs.
However, with the full course completed and an excursion dive under our belts, we were buzzing and ready to take on more. Admittedly, it had always been Pygmie's plan to spend the last day diving, but it wasn't until we were doing the course that we realised the option of doing a couple of adventure dives to go towards the Advanced Open Water Diver certification.
The advantage of going for the advanced cert is that we can then go down to 30 metres rather than the Open Water Diver limit of 18 metres. Not that I'm complaining about 18 metres, that's a bloody long way down as far as I'm concerned!
So, the adventure dives started off in the same way as the last day of the course, though we were lucky enough to be on the same boat so all of our kit was still out there.
The two adventure dives we had settled on were the Drift Dive and the Underwater Photography Dive: both of us were keen to photograph the the wildlife so took our cameras along to both dives where Sarah also gave us guidance on how to photograph on the move ... which I failed at miserable!
Anyway, the first dive was the Drift Dive and was to be at Jackson's Reef. As with all of the other dives, I was nervous and tense, despite knowing how chilled out I would be later. Still, we kitted out, stepped in and sunk to the beautiful depths of the Red Sea...
Unfortunately, sinking was a bit of an issue on this dive: I either did it too well or not at all. For some reason, I just couldn't find my buoyancy and was adjusting my BCD far more than I should have needed to. I felt like Charlie in the chocolate factory, drinking in air to buoy me up and belching it out to drop again. Quite a sight underwater, I should think.
Of course, this meant I missed out on some good pics as I wasn't confident enough to get close and feel in control ... so I spent the rest of the dive, standing back and literally going with the flow.
By the time I was back on the boat, I had made up my mind: that was it, no more dives for me that day. I had found my limit.
That said, as Pygmie pointed out, if I didn't do the second dive and I missed something then I would really kick myself. Soooo true! So whilst we finished off the knowledge reviews I mulled over the second dive and chilled out, talking to the beautiful Irish lass that was on the boat with us.
By the time the afternoon had come around, I was in a better frame of mind and ready for the next dive: Underwater Photography. Actually, I was quite eager.
We descended to a sandy patch around ten metres down at the north tip of Woodhouse Reef, where our instructor started pointing interesting things out to me whilst Pygmie had a wander about photographing other things. I have to confess that I was quite grateful for having the instructor there as I wouldn't have known where to start.
And then she pointed at where my cuz had been and I nearly hyperventilated. Sitting on the sandy bottom was this huge and gorgeous puffer...
From this point on, I was definitely in excitement mode!
However, we couldn't stay in one place for long and so took off round the north tip of the reef - quite literally, as the current was far stronger than on the first drift dive. It was quite interesting to feel the two different currents coming together and having to swim against it so we could continue photographing the wildlife.
Now I was really enjoying myself, the dive had to finish all too soon, but at least I got a few memorable snaps ... and our instructor made sure to take a couple of pics of us at the bottom. Gotta prove we were there somehow :-D
See! We really were there!!
The Rest Of It
You're probably thinking that the whole week was taken up with just diving, especially since that's pretty much all I've talked about regarding the holiday ... but then, it was a diving holiday!
Okay, in the evenings we did get together with Shagwell and Classy Bird, enjoyed some of the night life and sampled some of the culinary delights: though with it being a big tourist area, there were a lot of western places to eat.
Its probably best to give a quick run-down of the highlights and lowlights of the rest of the week, so...
- Annoying shop keepers who think they can either badger you or guilt you into buying their goods
- Taxi drivers who don't take 'No' for an answer and charge ten times as much as they're supposed to
- Lack of electricity and water for two mornings
- T.G.I Fridays extortionate prices
- The restaurants that didn't show prices and then charged a fortune (take note, Jolie Ville!)
- Check-in on the way back weighed the bags heavy, raced them through, then charged for the excess without giving the option to take stuff out
- Passport control took water off us despite there being a huge sign saying water was allowed
- No prices in the food places at the airport meant getting a shock at checkout, like £4.50 GBP for a pack of Pringles!!
- The diving, of course!
- Emperor Divers: great company and great people. Highly recommended!!
- Classy Bird discovering that she was the best mosquito lunch ever: she looked like she'd come out in Hives.
- Shagwell finding the only mosquito with OCD which just had to bite her in the same place on both legs.
- The one taxi driver who made us laugh ... though we still walked
- Mary, the referred diver who joined us on our course, travelling alone - she's got more bottle than I have
- The boat race* on the Friday night: I do not drink lager and daresay I probably never will do again, but it was fun
- Makani sushi/panini bar. Top service, top food, top drinks. Excellent place to chill out and feed :-)
- Hard Rock Café. Okay, very western, but good food at excellent prices: food and drinks for four people came to less than GBP20 compared to Jolie Ville which charged GBP22 for one person's meal, no drinks!
- Abhou El Sid's, traditional Egyptian food. Again, very good food at very good prices ... and directly over Hard Rock :-)
- The quad bike ride into the mountains. Okay, nothing exciting, but as a first ride on one and with no glasses to protect my eyes against the sand, it was fun!
* The boat race is a team effort which, as you can imagine, involves racing another team to a finish. With beer. Downed as quick as possible. I never realised it was so gassy...