Sunday, 27 January 2013

Disaster dive

So we went diving in Egypt. It wasn’t my idea, but after seeing so much in Egypt, this was one of the things left. Let’s try!

We got picked up at the hotel and survived a ride in a small bus with too many people in it, in the Egyptian traffic (the rules? There are no rules. Like our travel agent said, it makes calling while driving a lot easier. I like to close my eyes in those busses).
At the diving center, we signed a contract saying nobody there would be responsible for my death, and we got a wetsuit and flippers. The rest would be on board. Everything went in Egyptian style. Very slow and very unefficient.
When we finally got on the boat, we met Alladin, who’d be our dive instructor that day. Yep, his name is Alladin!

So here we are and Alladin shows us the tank. How to breathe, what to do, what not to do, the signs. It seemed very simple, just breathe through your mouth.
I can do that.
He’ll do the rest, he says. He shows two buttons he’ll press. One for going up, and one for going down. “If you want to sit on the sand, you only sit like this.” (imagine a Arabic accent). He shows a position on his knees.
The sand? Like, in the bottom? As if I’m going to the bottom, are you out of your mind?!
“If you have a problem, do this (he does a horizontal jazz hand next to his face) and show me where the problem is.”
Problem? What problem?

“If you have water in your mouth, don’t panic, just press this button.”
Water in my mouth? How am I supposed to breathe through my mouth with water in it?
Alladin tells more about water in your diving glasses and about popping your ears when they hurt.
Damn, always the ears. In planes they hurt too.
“But the most important thing is to be happy. I’m happy if you happy!”
There’s my goal. Be happy.
And there’s the first stop. Hubs and I go first. Alladin puts weights on us, and the whole thing with a vest and a tank. You’ve probably seen it in movies. It’s heavy. Just the tank weighs 12 kilos. I put on the glasses and flippers and we practice the breathing through the pipe.
Ooh, scary.
Another instructor helps me get up. “On three, stand up. One, two, three.”
He helps me walk to the back of the boat.
“Now jump.”
Jump?! I will immediately sink to the bottom wearing this!
“Come on, jump in!”
My head is shaking a big no. Two men are holding my arms. Scared that they’ll push me in, I take off the breathing thing and say I’m scared. Please gimme a minute. “Ok, no problem.”
I say my peptalkspeech to myself three times.
I can do it, I can do it, I can do it.
I close my eyes…
And jump.

Oh my God, I’m not going up! I’m too heavy! I knew it! I will sink and die right here!!
Oh wait, I’m up. I didn’t drown. Alladin makes the OK-sign and I OK back at him. But I have too many things on my body. The tanks, the stupid weighs, the flippers. Not to mention the breathing pipe and the glasses. I do not like this. At all. Why did I want to dive again?

My hubs jumps in the water too en Alladin swims us away from the boat. He OKs and we OK back. (By OK-ing I mean the handsign) 
“OK, first I want you to just look in the water and breathe calm.”
Just look. I can do that.
I inhale, put my face down in the water.
Oh, wait, I have to exhale too.
I breathe out bubbles. Weird. I carefully breathe in again. This is exciting. I can’t yet decide if it’s good-excited or scared-excited. My heart is pounding!
I hate water in my ears. Scary. But this is not too hard.
“OK?”, gestures Alladin. OK.
“Now we go under water and we breathe.” He goes first and presses his downbutton (the one which deflates, so he’ll sink. Or something).
Without coming up first, he sinks both of us under water.
Wtf! I’m sinking!! I can’t breathe! Oh, wait, I can. Come on. Breathe.
He does an OK again. My pounding heart and I OK back. He lets us look around us. I’m not looking.
Oh my gosh, I’m under water. I’m breathing. I can do it. Relax. We’re just under the surface. I’m not being dragged to the bottom because of the weight. Oh goodness, this is so scary.
Alladin asks for another OK. Hubs does an OK back. Alladin specifically asks me again. I answer that I want to go up. He pushes the buttons and we go up.
“What’s the problem?”
“Nothing, I’m just a bit scared, I find it very exciting.”
“No being scared. Only breathe. We go again. OK?” I OK at him. He gives me my breathing thing. ”You have to hold on to this, it’s important!!”
Did he just get a bit mad at me?
We go again. I try to relax, say the peptalkspeech a dozen times to myself and let Alladin drag me with him.
Look around Sabrina. There are colorful fish here. And beautiful corals. Enjoy. Be happy. Oh goodness, I’m not freaking enjoying this. I’m under water, my heart is pounding and do not feel a tiny bit of joy.
I want to get out!
I put my thumb up to Alladin. That’s the sign for going up, the sign I memorized first.
“You OK?”
“No, I’m scared! Give me a minute.”
“Only breathe! No being scared! We go down and I’ll show you all the fish and coral, it’s no problem!”
My hubs asks if I’m ok. Yeah. I’m trying again. Third time.
If you don’t enjoy it this time, you can go back to the boat. But try it first.
Ok. Try. Relax. Look at the nice fish. Oh wow, it’s actually beautiful down here.
After a couple OK’s, Alladin puts his thumb down. My heart jumps. We’re going down. “OK?” We OK back. We sink a metre. I really don’t like the sinking thing. I makes me so nervous. It’s like an elevator under water. We swim a bit and he points his finger to colorful fishes. He OKs a lot and we OK back.
See, I’m fine. I can do it. Now stop being so nervous and start enjoying.
Alladin puts his thumb down again and OKs at us. OK, we answer.
Oh God. We’re going down.
He does it again and we go another metre down.
My ears!! Ouch! I have to pop! Why do I still feel pain?!
I put my jazzhand next to my face (the problemsign) and point to my ear. Hubs and Alladin show me how to pop my ears.
I freaking know! But it won’t work!!
I try it again. Pop. Thank goodness.
Allading shows the downsign again.
I shake my head and try to say I don’t want to go further down. I think it worked. We swim a bit further. Again, the stupid ears!! I do the thing and they pop. But it happens again. Pop. And again. Pop. As I look to the surface I see that Alladin has brought us even more down. Damn, how did I buy that pointing to fish thing! I’m never coming up again if he keeps dragging me! My heart starts to pound faster and my ears are killing me. I am so scared. I want to cry. That’s enough, I’m going up.
“What’s the problem??”
“It’s just, I’m still scared and I freak out under water! My body is ok, I can do the breathing, but in my mind I’m going crazy! I can do it, but I… I freak out a little.”
Again, he answers the same thing. Breathe, no being scared blah blah. He is annoyed. But I’m scared.
“Do we go again?” he asks.
“Yes. But it’s the last time I’m trying!” I hear him say an annoyed OK.
Last time. We go down. I’m not having crazy thoughts.
What is that water doing in my mouth? WATER IN MY MOUTH?!
Where was that freaking button? How do I… Oh goodness, get me out! I don’t want this anymore! Get me out NOW!!!!
I start to do the stupid jazzhand, and the upsign. Maybe it’s my crazy imagination in this panic attack, but I really think I’m seeing Alladin roll his eyes.
“I had water in my mouth!”
“I told you! If you have water in your mouth, push this button!”
“I know, but I paniced and I forgot!”
“You OK now?”
“OK, let’s go.”
“No, I don’t think I’m going again. I’m too scared, I’m sorry. I can’t.”
He looks at me for a second and says to my hubs:
 “I will bring her back to the boat and come back for you.”

Annoyed Alladin swims me back to the boat while hubs stays with the photographing diver. I’m so relieved, but can’t help feel a bit sorry for Alladin. Egyptian men don’t like to fail. They get very annoyed by these things.
“I’m sorry, Alladin.”
“It’s OK.”
“No really, I’m sorry. It’s not you. You are doing it right.”
He smiles.
“It’s OK. You have a bit stress.”
We don’t speak as we swim to the boat.
“I’m still happy. You wanted us to be happy, right? I’m very happy.”
He starts to laugh, the loud laugh that’s so typical for Egyptian men.
“That’s right, when you happy, I’m happy. It’s OK.”

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