Staring at the red and white dunes of Wadi Rum was a little too relaxing. Everyday I could get sucked into the desert and watch the shadows shrink and grow again. There was plenty of time to relax and think. Before I knew it, the day would be over and the next day I could just do it again. Well, eventually I couldn’t just do it again as time was moving faster than the pace of desert life. So I decided to head to Egypt.

I thought this was going to be a fairly straight forward process of going down to Aqaba and buying a ferry ticket, boarding a ferry and off I would go. Nope, the Confusion Agency was hard at work in southern Jordan to delay me as long as possible. The main method of the Confusion Agents was to obfuscate the departure time of the ferry. First I was told it only ran at 2am, then twice a day, 2am and 2 pm. Well, I would obviously prefer the 2pm, so a friendly taxi cab driver helped me to secure the ticket. The ferry company wanted the passengers there two hours in advance, OK, no problem. Well, the ferry didn’t come by 2pm. I asked at the desk and they assured me it would be here and leave by three, then four, then 5:30, then 6 and so on. Finally they told me “The ferry will leave tonight, Inshallah.” I was starting to wonder if it really only left at 2am and only 2am, but finally at around 8 at night the ship was underway. Three hours later we were docking in Egypt. Three days after I originally planned to be here.

My passport was processed on the ferry, but then the agent said I had to pick it up at the Immigration Office in the port, he gave me a little hand written receipt. I was assured this was completely normal. When we arrived at the port, I was fortunate that a young Egyptian spoke English well enough to help me out. First we went to the Immigration Office and they said we had to go to the bank and buy a passport stamp. It was 11 at night, are Egyptian banks really open that late? Well, the one in the port is, just to sell these stamps. With the stamp in hand I was able to get my passport back, but only after some hard looks by the agent. There was also an overwhelming number of young men trying to grab my bag to be my porter and take me to their taxi and it was a bit of a fight to get them to leave me alone. Once I finally found the exit to the port though, it was the same as any other neighborhood around such a place. Lots of bars and brothels. I walked the half mile to the only hotel I could find and stayed a night, happy to have safely made it to Egypt.

The next day I headed to Dahab, my first real destination. They have some really great diving here and that was the whole point of stopping off. Dahab is a very relaxed holiday destination, except that at the moment there really aren’t that many holiday makers. Everything is cheap here compared to Israel and Jordan too, which is really nice. On the way the Bedouin taxi driver told me of the old days and how great it was when the Sinai belonged to Israel. I found this a bit shocking since I always thought they were seen as occupiers by the local population. He assured me that wasn’t the case and that all the infrastructure was built by the Israelis and that was the last time the Bedouins of the Sinai had respect from a government. The Israelis built them schools, gave them citizenship and allowed them to vote. All things that I guess never happened under the Egyptians. Interesting, I never thought I would hear such things. A few government checkpoints later, and some harassing by the officials of my driver, we arrived in Dahab.

When I was looking for dive outfits here I found a few that offered free dorm accommodations if you stay and dive with them. That seemed like a great offer and another traveller recommended one of the places I was looking at. So I checked into the Red Sea Relax resort and promptly started diving the next day. I have to say the diving here is top quality. I was worried it would be way overrated but it isn’t. The coral diversity here is incredible and the water clarity is pretty good. The only thing missing are big things like sharks or mantas, otherwise there isn’t anything to complain about, except that the water is a bit cold.

I decided to take a ten dive package and then do a Rescue Diver certification. All of the dives have been fantastic including the world famous Blue Hole. The entry onto that dive is probably one of the best entries I have ever had. From shore you step into a 75 foot chimney that is open on one side. You descend straight down and then exit through an arch and slowly work your way along a reef wall until you come to a saddle in the reef. Over the saddle and you enter the Blue Hole itself. Inside the hole is not so interesting, but you can peer down into the blue and see nothing, its 250 meters deep or something like that. What is amazing though is as you stare into the abyss you get surprised by the occasionally free diver ascending from the darkness. There are some free-diving schools here and some of the divers go well over 100 feet down.

Some of the other dives were in shallow areas with pools connected by mazes of reef structure. Another one takes you into a canyon 100 feet down. You drop into the narrow crevasse and swim about, it was really fantastic in there. I also finally did my first night dive. At first it took me awhile to figure out how to control my buoyancy without having visible reference, but after while it became very comfortable, perhaps even a bit of an embryonic experience. If I covered my light and just floated I could even describe it as womb-like, it was very comfortable. After my eyes adjusted though I could see luminescent plankton coming off the other divers fins or in the waves above. I’m really looking forward to the next one.

I have a couple more dives left here, including visiting the Thistlegorm, a very famous wreck, and some more reefs. I’m hoping to squeeze in another night dive too. But I guess the big accomplishment as a diver was completing the Rescue Diver course. The course itself wasn’t so hard, it was only three days. The price here was very good too compared to other places on Earth, and well, I have plenty of time. The main focus of the program though is how to rescue divers in trouble or calm panicked divers. There is a bit of a paradigm shift that comes with the course too, as you move away from focusing on keeping you and your buddy safe to also being concerned more with the other divers around you.

Dahab is great, although pretty quiet. I am happy that I get to relax a bit and it really feels like I’m on vacation. I certainly had some trepidations coming to Egypt with all the recent turmoil but that hasn’t affected the South Sinai much. It just keeps the number of visitors down which is fine as it isn’t so crowded. The remainder of my time here though will take me a little closer to the Egypt you read about in the news. I’ll go to Cairo next before moving down to Luxor and then back to Turkey and my dear Slick. I think the vacation will end in a few days though as I get back on the road, but I’m looking forward to my last little land adventure for awhile.