June 17, 2004
Last Day In Paradise
DAY 240: It was only about 7:45 in the morning when I was out of bed and back in the comforts of the pillow lounge on the beach of Penguin Village. Reason (other than the fact that pillow lounges rule): I had to finish all my written homework for my Advanced Open Water diver certification course to turn in later that day. Apparently my classmate and dive buddy Oz had the same idea because he was out and at the pillow cafe by eight to do the same. I had finished most of my homework by the time Oz arrived -- it was fairly easy; the homework was open book, and the book was written at a fifth-grade reading level -- and so I did the courteous American high school thing by letting him copy.
FOR MY LAST DIVE -- coincidentally on my last full day in my new paradise -- we rode in a truck to a bay area known as "Golden Blocks" (picture above). Golden Blocks was south of Dahab in an area passed a police checkpoint where the driver of each car had to have a pass filled out -- or, in the case of our driver, three cigarettes to bribe the officer with.
Our fifth and final dive was a Navigational Dive, where we had to pass a simple test underwater by swimming in an (almost) perfect square, by use of an underwater compass. More math was involved with this one -- I had to face the difficult task of adding 90 at every turn -- but in the end, everyone in the class passed. We spent the rest of the time underwater admiring the coral and the big sea turtle feeding on some bottom sea grass just five feet away from us.
With everything turned in, log books signed and stamped and payment made, Oz and I were finally PADI Advanced Open Water Certified Divers, qualified to go diving anywhere in the world at depths up to about 100 ft. Oz was so excited about being a diver in Dahab that he decided to prolong his trip and stay another week to do more diving since he had no pressing obligations back home just yet. He had to run his plan by the wife of course, but she, a tall, easy-going Spanish woman named Rosa was okay with it; in fact she would have stayed another week too if she weren't starting a new job in the next two days.
By dusk, our group was fairly substantial, including all members of Team Barracuda and some newcomers, including a young hippy-type that Angie and Denise referred to as "The Human Shield" because he over exaggerated about traveling to "dangerous" Jordan where he'd have to use a human shield to defend himself from flying bullets. Sitting around the table, we passed around the hookah pipe to inhale apple and honey goodness until Butch and Cheryl busted out the bottle of cheap Red Star vodka they bought in Aswan -- so cheap that it tasted and smelled like it was fermented with feet. Denise and I went out on a mission to get lemonade and soda to mix it with, but it was no help; orange soda and Red Star just tasted like orange feet.
Giving up on the cheap but nauseating home-mixed liquor, we decided to go out for a celebratory pub-crawl. The reason for celebration: my last day in Dahab. We walked down the promenade to where the other bars were and ended up in one shaped in the fashion of an old schooner. It was a session of gelatin shots, daiquiris, beers, other cocktails and conversation until we ended up next door at another pub with a pool table. Angie and I held the table all night with equal skill levels, and to mix things up we played with our opposite arm, just like we did in our rock throwing contest on our special felucca ride. For some reason, it just wasn't as funny this time around.
Angie was apparently a better person at goodbyes because when I opened the door at six the next morning, she had left me a farewell and "keep in touch" note on my doorstep. Next to the note was one of the woven friendship bracelets that the little girl tout was trying to sell me that afternoon in the pillow lounge. I may have not wanted it when she was trying to sell me one, but under the new circumstances, it was a welcome and appreciated gift -- a reminder of my times with Team Barracuda, Team Shawl, and above all, the pillows and cushions of the paradise known as Dahab.
If you enjoy this daily travel blog, please post a comment! Give me suggestions, send me on missions, let me know how things are going back home in the USA. Knowing that I have an audience will only force me to make this blog more entertaining as the days go by. Donīt forget to bookmark it and let a friend know!