On The Road: Sink or swim on the Sinai peninsula
Saturday 09 May 2009
Nothing beats sharing a pot of Bedouin tea between scuba dives. Sitting cross-legged at a low table by one of Dahab's best-loved dive sites, I was given enough of a recharge by the syrupy, warm tea to turn down a kofta sandwich with chips
What a relief. I was terrified that lunch would lay too heavily on me, disrupt my underwater buoyancy and render me a fin-wielding, coral-killing novice. Instead, I had a worry-free kitting-up session for dive two of the day – "Golden Blocks".
Just like me, most divers head off for this site, 20 minutes south of Dahab, bouncing around in the back of their dive school's 4x4, perched above tanks of compressed air, piles of wetsuits and a multi-coloured collection of fins and masks. Most will also fail (again, like I did) to count all of the massed kite surfers who skim the waves at Dahab's Lagoon, which is passed by en route. No matter. On arrival at Golden Blocks all my thoughts turned to sea life, and which varieties I would soon be swimming around with, 18 metres beneath the surface.
The very definition of shore diving, Golden Blocks' entry point is just steps from the beach, dropping into pathways of coral that teem with life. Be they smooth golden blocks, ridged fans or bulbous outcrops, the corals carpet the seabed. I floated above it all, hypnotised, through clouds of red, yellow and blue fish. I became so obsessed by merging myself with the masses of fish that I almost missed my first octopus. There he was, moving in and out of the rock crevices.
It was the most relaxing dive I've had and also the one where I was least worried about accidentally disrupting the coral. Perhaps that can be put down to missing lunch, or maybe the words of my diving guide were subconsciously with me: "If you are afraid, you can't dive. If you relax, you will be fine, buddy."
From now on I'll try to relax and make time between dives in Egypt for Bedouin tea.
Footprint's Egypt handbook, £13.99, is available now
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