Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Egypt Adventure Part Two - In which I narrowly avoid drowning.

Dolphins just out of shot.

Today’s post is all about being brave and trying something new. As regular readers will know, this is something I try to do every now and then but I had the opportunity in Egypt to push this to new heights (or depths)!

So, I will fess up at this point and say I don’t actually like water that much. Not huge expanses of water anyway. I like the sea from the shore; I could sit and look at it for hours. But I don’t like going in it. Not really. So it was with huge amounts of trepidation that I agreed to book on a dolphin/coral reef snorkelling trip with DD in Egypt. She loves the water and swims like, well, like a fish and this was her idea of heaven. But anyway, the man at the hotel did a really good selling job and described the day in glowing terms and so we found ourselves at 6.30am the next morning heading off to the marina.


The marina - our yacht wasn't quite as impressive.

We were in a group with mostly Germans on a fairly large yacht with a friendly and experienced crew. I did try to explain that I had never snorkelled before and would this be a problem? I had lots of smiles and thumbs up in reply which I took as a good sign!


We set off into the sea, looking for the dolphins which we found fairly quickly. Much excitement as they were spotted in the bay and lots of pointing and turning of the boat as we followed them. Then there was a mad rush as we were all piled onto a tiny dinghy off the back of the yacht, flippers and snorkels at the ready. I could feel the fear growing…. Not helped as most people happily threw themselves backwards off the boat and into the sea. I clambered more sedately into the water then realised that I couldn’t touch the bottom. D’oh. Panic! Then I realised that the very nature of the snorkel meant that I couldn’t breathe through my nose. More panic. The guide was brilliant but clearly torn between helping Mrs Theatrical Drowning and the rest of the group who were there to snorkel with dolphins. I decided in the interests of everyone I would get back into the dinghy (not the most dignified entry) and just observe proceedings from there. The driver (do you drive boats?) looked at me with the air of one who has seen it all before. In fairness I did get a spectacular view of the dolphins from the boat, close enough to touch and all very magical if you could ignore the exhaust fumes.


Once the dolphins had had their fill of performing for the humans we all got back on the yacht. I kept my eyes down with embarrassment. DD was full of it, dolphins gliding past her face, baby ones, big ones, real, live, wild dolphins. Bah, I could see them from the boat! Her only complaint was that our specially bought underwater cameras had leaked and stopped working after one shot.

From here we took a leisurely cruise to a coral reef. This rose up before us in the middle of nowhere like some barely submerged island. I had never seen an actual coral reef before and so I guess I wasn’t sure what to expect. We moored and everyone got kitted up again. The guide came to chat to me, to plead with me to have a go. It was wonderful he said - I would be fine. Just take it easy and relax. I would love it. I listened and decided I would love it more on the boat watching everyone else loving it in the water.

Which is what I did. Relaxing in the sun and seeing everyone else swimming about and loving the views.


DD selfie with me sunning myself under a towel behind her.

In fairness, DD did play down how fabulous it had been when she finally emerged from the water. “It was ok” she said with the biggest grin ever. “Lots of fish and wonderful colours. You can’t really see that from up here”.

The coral reef - much more spectacular from underwater.
After lunch on board we moved off to the third and final reef stop on the trip. After much soul searching I decided that maybe I should give it one more try in the calmer waters. DD promised to be with me every flip of the way and that if I decided I really didn’t like it then I could get straight back on the boat. Well, I am SO glad that I was brave and made that choice. I snorkelled for about 15 minutes, never far from the boat but what I saw totally made up for the fear. It was beautiful, a whole underwater world, so many fish and other weird sea things. The colours were wonderful. For a few moments I would forget the snorkel and just enjoy the experience. Then I would remember that my breathing was compromised and I would have to stop and relax again.

I can’t say that I enjoyed snorkelling, I am still too scared of the water to fully like the experience. But I appreciate why people do this kind of thing as a hobby – and I am so proud of myself for taking that opportunity. What an experience!

PS all photos in this post courtesy of DD as I didn't have my camera on that day!

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