Putting the ā€œDā€ Back into Diving

Man, this week has been fun. It sounds a completely cliche, but it has been one of those weeks that really remind me how fun diving is. Not that it lost appeal before, far from it, but it really was an exceptional weeks diving.
Firstly, this is thanks to the weather being, unbelievably, perfect. Flat calm (but with current). Secondly it’s due to having a pretty impressive schedule (Abu Nahas – Thistlegorm – The Brothers – Elphinstone), and finally (but by no means least) it is thanks to having a good group of people to work with and cater for. I won’t go into detail on everything (after all, this isn’t a trip report as such) but I’ll jujst cover some stand out points.
Abu Nahas is fine, but for me, getting out to Thistlegorm was fantastic. It’s actually a much more beautiful wreck than I remember it, which indicates I wasn’t really paying attention when I was here two years ago, but hey ho. The number of fish around it is fantastic, and the exposed ammo hold at the back was of course cool. The bikes and insides didn’t look as impressive as I’d remembered them but seeing a turtle eating from the still in place anchor on the bow was nice, as was doing it by night dive. But the best part about it? For all three dives there was not one other boat there.
The Brothers, as ever, were very nice dives. Not quite as exciting or all-encompassing as the last trip here (when we scootered around the whole of Big Brother) but great recreational diving nonetheless. Saw quite a few Thresher sharks along with a silky over the course of two days which was very cool. Would love to get back there on another technical trip and really see what lies off the edges. Excellent dives.
Elphinstone, as ever, is Elphinstone. In fact, diving anywhere in the Marsa Alam region is cool for me as its beginning more and more to feel like ‘coming home’ in terms of diving, much like diving Capernwray is (albeit with warmer weather!). Nice dives and a couple of Oceanics to gawp at.
Just, cool.

Don’t know yet what I’ll be doing next week, rumour has it that a run up to Cairo may be on the cards, or I’ll be in the boat. At this juncture either’s cool with me. Would kind of be good to work seeing as I’m here and get the cash in for that week, but it would also be nice to go out to Cairo and get online for a bit. Got a few more posts to put up now.
Have to say I’ve been quite impressed with my log keeping so far. It must be boring as hell to read, but at least I’m sticking to it for now. I guess in its own way it is kind of relaxing to write, if a little bit odd. What the hell, I’m here now.

Still reading Nabokov’s /Lolita/, which is taking me longer to read than I was expecting, mainly as I’ve been pretty tired so fell asleep rather than reading. Nearly half way through now though and, if anybody is keeping tabs on this sort of thing, give Nabokov some points for a fucked-up mind (and I mean that positively). It is, so far, an extremely interesting read, but clear the product of a very intelligent, if wandering, mind. I’d be curious to see the results of analysis on /that/ brain. Anyone who hasn’t read it though, I suggest you try it – it ain’t your typical classic, ‘guv.

Anyway, until next time readers, peace out.

[none]

In a completely unrelated (to anything) statement, I finished reading Michael Moore’s /Downsize This!/ today. Managed to read it much quicker than I’d expected. It was, like most of Moore’s books, a very easy to read, engrossing book as he does have a very down-to-earth-says-what-he-wants-to-say writing style. As mentioned in my last post it is unashamedly biased and arguably outrageous at times, but the more I think about it I actually think its good he approaches things like this. The so-called ‘Left Wing’, until very recently, were barely heard as they kept sticking to some sort of weird middle-way almost of appeasement, so maybe its what is / was needed having some big American dude start to kick peoples’ asses into touch.

In other news today I dived the /Salem Express/ near Safaga for the first time in my life. It’s not a particularly pleasant wreck to dive in terms of its history (it was returning from a pilgrimage to Mecca when it hit the reef and sack rapidly, killing many of the 1000 plus pilgrims on board). Many of the bodies of those who perished are still on board as the rescue teams were unable to reach them. She’s a large vessel and a rather interesting wreck (probably given the aforementioned history). The first sight that greeted me as I reached the wreck in 28m was a lone sole of a shoe and a couple of life jackets. The shoe could have come from anywhere, admittedly, as could ther life jackets. But, given the prominence of similar life jakcets around the wreck, my guess is they are originals. A short swim alongside the main deck (she lies on her side) leads up to two liferafts sitting perfectly upright underneath their original holdings, as if to defiantly show that all these years later they still are intact and ready to go. No one is to blame of course for their lack of use – they simply didn’t have time or opportunity to get the people out of the inside of the boat, let alone into those two liferafts. Still a very weird, almost eerie sight. Swimming a long the starboard side (now the top side) of the wreck and looking down into the darkness of the busted portholes also gives an eerie feel to it – but maybe I’m just a whimp.
Still, for all the eerie-ness, it strikes me as an interetsing spot to head to and try limited wreck-penetration to have a more thorough scout around. Morbid fascination and all that shit.

Tomorrow we get to Hurghada and then straight out again with another group. With any luck I’ll get chance to post this before the next group arrive, but we’ll see what happens.

Now reading: /Lolita/ by Nabakov.

The Homecoming Queen

Well, it looks like I’m going to get a holiday soon. Actually it looks more like its real, seeing as I’ve booked my flights and set to leave for 3 weeks starting the 6th January. Means I miss the New Year celebrations but seeing as I’m Deep South’s “superstar dee-jay” for the New Year celebrations Egypt-styless its not the end of the world – every day’s a drinking day after all…
Anyway, in other news (maybe or maybe not related to the forementioned) things are going fine. Just nearing the end of a week with a Ukrainian group on the boat – a fairly decent bunch with a few prostitutes thrown in for good measure. Can’t complain.
One of the group has an iRiver PMP and I have to say I’m fairly impressed with it – maybe I need to add that to the wishlist.
I keep looking at my list of wanted CDs and feel another musical spending spree coming on, seeing as I haven’t had my fix of that for a while. Don’t know exactly what I’ll select yet but I’ve been listening to a lot of Dylan recently, so maybe I’ll expand my collection in that direction. Figured I need to get myself an iRiver of some kind though (or find a Linux OS for the iPod that will play OGGs) as I want to convert my CD collection to OGG format, perhaps as the first significant all-encompassing step of “Operation Dave’s Freedom” which is an interesting little plan I’m trying to implement.
What is it? Well, first of all it bears no resemblance to Operation Iraqi Freedom. Just to clear that one up. Rather, it is an attempt on my part top ‘Open Source’ myself to as full an extreme as I can manage whilst still achieving the full fucntionality I need for various things (ie accessing my Instructor materials and being able to play EVE). In the current status I will still need to dual-boot Mac OSX and Linux on the Powerbook in order to keep my Instructor materials up to date (updates are released only in *.exe or *.dmg formats, although I have contacted PADI to ask for a release in a format I can use on my Operating System of choice. Coincidentally, releasing a version that would work via Linux would actually be much easier (say releasing a *.tar.gz or even a *.zip file) in the long run as it would mean it would work across all platforms. But then who wants simplicity when you can use crap?
Another aspect I’m struggling with is my iPod. I found iPod Linux, but it is only installable on an HFS+ formatted iPod. Given that I want my iPod readable across any system, I can only format it FAT32. Any suggestions on this would be appreciated while my search continues.
Music, as mentioned above, is a fairly easy one, but just time consuming. However, the time is probablyt worth it as it will let me record everything to a higher quality. I’m not going to bother converting downloaded music yet though (of course I mean *LEGALLY* downloaded music) as its too much effort and I can’t adjust the quality effectively, but maybe.
I haven’t yet decided how I’m going to do the video / film files yet.
There are of course other things to sort out and mess with, but I can’t think or be arsed to bore you with the details right now.

In more other news, I’ve finished reading /The Bourne Ultimatum/ and have just started Michael Moore’s /Downsize This!/. I read a fair part of /Downsize This!/ on a Classics trip to Greece a few years ago but never got around to finishing it (it was John’s book) and only just obtained a copy for myself. Like most of Moore’s stuff, its funny and has some interesting facts, but is unashamedly biased and one-sided in some areas. I guess sometimes it takes that to counteract the oppostion though.
/The Bourne Ultimatum/ was good, although the closing paragraph was a tad lame. It was excellent in parts, but I think overall it wasn’t quite as enjoyable as the first two. Worth a look though.

Anyway I’m bored and tired.

Tarra. x

The Common Cold

Hello there folks.
Hope everyone’s doing well. I’m just bored and tired so figured I could write a bit more here.
Last night I finished off the book I was reading – Iain M. Banks /The Algebraist/. Excellent. Very funny and actually includes one of the funniest sentences I’ve read in a book in a long time. Before I post this I will go get it and copy it down verbatim. Made me laugh anyway. Even though I hadn’t heard of him before I would definitely reccomend seeking him out, even starting with /The Algebraist/. It can be a bit slow to get started with / longwinded in the descriptions of places or people (all of which are still good by the way, just a little hard reading at times) but overall a very interesting story and the conversations / character profiles within it made me laugh a lot.
Fuck it, I need to find that line before I carry on. Ah, here it is:

“The last signal from the great ship before it was ripped entirely apart and turned into radiation and high-speed shrapnel was from aide-de-camp Tuhluer, calmly informing Luseferous that the Archimandrite was a cunt.”

Told you it was damn funny. Or at least I told you it made me laugh.

Anyway, todays subject is based on my current condition of suffering. I was well and truly knocked out from it last night. Don’t know where or how I got it, somewhat same as usual with these kind of things.
It’s not particularly interesting or enjoyable but bollocks to it, I’ve written it now.
Just found out I’ve got an Advanced Open Water Course to do at Deep South now. As my writing pribably informs you, I’m ecstatic. Probably put me in Cairo a day later than I’d hoped but at least I’ll still get to go, hopefully. If not I’ll be posting this from Hurghada I think. Either way I need a quick break after this week.
As a complete aside, I’ve now started reading the final part of the Jason Bourne Trilogy, /The Bourne Ultimatum/ by Robert Ludlum – expecting it to be as good as its predecessors.
Also I watched Stephen King’s version of /The Shining/ last night – pleasantly surprised.
Anyway.

Peace.

Hungover

I am suffering a hangover from /hell/.
If I was a dog, the humane choice would be to have me put down and out of my misery, but seeing as I’m human (allegedly) then I have to sit here and let it run its course. Smashing.
Yesterday was the birthday of one of the Russian guests, and lets just say they all came prepared for it. There was more booze (Vodka, Whiskey, Gin, Tequila) than I’d seen in a while, and more of it than I’d planned for was passed in my direction.
The next thing I knew we were skinny dipping off the back of the boat. Different.
In its own way it was fun though, but I’m paying the price now and I still have to work today – a big mistake.
Thankfully, Mohammed has done the first dive for me while I lie about feeling sorry for myself.
Actually, I’m feeling too rough to write any more.

Peace.

Well, it’s now the end of the day, but I figured I’d just edit this entry rather than sit and piss around with a new one.
To give a quick run down of my day its gone something like this:
Wake Up – feel like shit, fall back to sleep.
Periodic waking up for various things I really should have done for work – thankfully Mohammed saved me by doing the work and dives, but makes me feel worse for not doing jack all day.
Falling back to sleep for a few more hours, finally waking up and just having a headache remaining (no more full body aches).
Trying to stay awake for the last night of the sailing time.

Fun, huh? I reckon its probably a good signal to me that I should stick to my earlier thoughts of not really drinking before any planned day of diving.
But, to reflect on what I remember, it was a fucking funny night – even if it did mean that I was running about the boat stark bollock naked in the early hours of the morning, apparently getting my ass slapped by the crew. Well, it seemed funny at the time.
The skinny dipping scenario still seems strange to think about it now – even more so considering it was with guests. I vaguely remember how it occurred though: I walk to the back of the boat, intending to piss and I notice a bunch of people already skinny dipping. Some part of my mind said, “People are skinny dipping, that’s cool” and then I took my shorts off and jumped in. As with many things, it seemed a good idea at the time.
Ah well, what’s done is done. And if I didn’t feel like I do now, I would happily say how funny a night it was, but seeing as I haven’t suffered this badly from a hangover in a long time it seems to overshadow it!!
Anyway, no guests next week, so I think I’ll go to Cairo. Maybe speak to you again from there.

Tarra.

Relieved (well, nearly)

Anyway, there I was, ready to go shit, when the boss rings and my parents are due to ring any minute – so no shitting for me just yet. In the interlude I may as well get back to what I set out to start writing about – hopefully I will tget chance to shit later.

So, yesterday afternoon / evening I went down to see people in Wadi el Gimal (Valley of the Camels) – I will proibably have mentioned the place before but maybe not. If not, I’ll write more about it later on, honest. It came as a bit of a surprise to me that I was able to do it as I’d lost track of days and thought that I wasn’t going to get chance to go as we would have guests arriving to the boat then, but it turns out they arrive today (which was tomorrow yesterday) instead. Anyway, I’m digressing. The fact is I went. I arrived to the entrance to the National Park and started the 7km walk, barefoot, towards the camp. After about 5km (probably less) I saw the folks I’d gone down to see driving out towards me – off to one of the local beaches for the afternoon. Naturally I tagged along to crash the experience.
The beach was, fantastic. Whilst I’ve been to some very nice spots before during my time here, this was especially nice with soft sand and water of gradually darkening blues. Needless to say, I didn’t think to take any pictures. The afternoon was spent chilling out, drinking beers and occassionally smoking and ended up in a quick 4×4 skirmish out to the end of the headland where there were Sea Eagles nesting. Very cool.
Then we went back to the Wadi, got some food (rice and potatoes) before chilling out under the now dark sky. I read a little bit of my current book (/The Algebraist/ by Iain M. Banks) before going with the rest of them into one of the tents where we had some wine and sat around talking for a few hours (well, to be more precise, I didn’t speak much as much of the conversation was in Arabic. Not that I minded, though, I kind of enjoyed just sitting around hearing other people enjoying themselves in conversation.). Not all of it was in Arabic though. After that we all just slowly petered out and went to sleep (I have no idea at what time it was, probably pretty early). I woke up at 6 45 feeling surprisingly fresh. It was, all in all, extremely relaxing.
During the talking, one of the questions (apparently from the imaginitively titled /Book of Questions/) asked was to the following effect:
“If you could choose to be any age for the rest of your life, but not be able to tell anyone you have that gift, (1) would you do it and, (2) if so, what age would you be?”
Now, I didn’t actually answer the question this time, letting others do it, but, for whatever reason, it stuck with me and gave me something to think about as I tried to get to sleep. It just struck me as an interesting question.
To provide an answer here (or what I think constitutes an answer), I honestly don’t think I’ve yet reached the age I would want to be permanently and wouldn’t like to guess as to what that age will be, but to give a current answer given my experiences so far I would say two things: (1) Yes, I would definitely do it and (2) I would probably choose 19 (nineteen) as the age I’d choose to be. Why? Well, I just feel that my last year was a particularly good one and I find it hard to reason as to why I’d choose any other age to be (although I’m working on the theory that 20 could turn out just as good if not a little bit better.
But why 19, specifically?
Well, I’ve done lots of stuff I probably never would haven got chance to do if I’d been at home – I’ve managed to get a job I really enjoy, met lot of new really nice people (although I don’t know many of them too well really) and been and seen and done tonnes of things I simply never thought I’d have done (even seeing places like the Wadi, for example). I’ve seen the Pyramids (although not the internal tours yet), the Egyptian Museum, and a small amount of Cairo. Its hard to explain but I’ve just genuinely had a really good time – and I’ve still been able to be home quite a few times and see most, if not all of the people I miss from old Brittania. I’ve started (albeit slowly) to learn a new language (just need to learn how to write it!) and done some fantastic diving.
Even to take yesterday as a sole example, within the space of one hour I was relaxing in a beautiful, serene part of the world, with cool people (even though I don’t know them too well) and just generally enjoying life. When you’re out there it genuinely feels like you have no worries in the world – at all. Like you’re completely isolated from any of the hustle and bustle particularly present in ‘Western’ life. Everybody’s friendly and welcoming and the fact that I don’t understand much of the local conversation is irrelevant. It’s just nice. And, give or take, its been the story of the year and the reason it would be the age I could stay at – being able to do all these things and the travelling and being comfortable in doing it. I simply don’t have any real worries about anything – and that’s a really nice thing to have.
Do I think 20 will be as enjoyable? As things are now, yes I think it will be. I don’t know exactly yet if it will be different at all – hopefully I’ll get to know the people I’ve met already a little bit better and get to travel to a few new and different places both within and outside of Egypt.
Don’t get me wrong – I’m not trying to make out that the job is never without its own individual stresses or that the year has been completely negative-event-free. Far from it. But when I get to look back at things as a whole it’s been thoroughly enjoyable and a nice age and mindset to be in. Can’t complain, and all that.

Do people see it in me? I don’t know. I still have a very relaxed attitude to everything so even when something is tip-top dog’s bollocks shit-hot funky-as, if I’m relaxed the most reaction you can probably expect is ‘not bad at all’, or ‘nice’. Hopefully people don’t take that as an insult. Only if I’m alert, excitable, or hyper will I be over the top loud (as people from home know…). Strange huh?

Anyway, I just heard that the guests are due here in the next hour, so I’d best go take that shit now to avoid being caught short.

So long, mes amis.

Unsure

Well, looks like I’m going to do it again – one more time that I’m going to write words to the effect of “I’ve decided to start trying to keep a diary / weblog / meaningless-piece-of-nothingness-for-others-to-stare-aimlessly-at. Only your God knows whether I’ll actually sustain this effort – although, this is the first time that I’ve actually started making the notes in a desktop file rather than waiting until I get the Internet so maybe, just maybe, I’ll be able to sustain this one for a little bit longer. Whether any of it actually reaches the internet or not though I’m not so sure.
We’ll see though. I guess half of it depends on whether I:
(a) Get the [real : ppl] server up and running properly again and get things like WordPress reinstalled so that I can actually run my blog from there (the server was running fine and now inexpicably is not accessible. Not being at home makes it difficult for me to analyze thoroughly…), or
(b) In the absence of (a) I make myself an account with a free blog-hosting website and run the proverbial show from there.

One things for sure though – I need to take a shit before I carry on. Don’t go anywhere now…