My word how time flies. We were just looking back at some of the dive trips we organised, wondering what’s happened to everyone and found this entertaining account of a trip to Hurghada in 1998. Surely it wasn’t that long ago, Mickee doesn’t look a day older! (Do I)
Date: 4th December 1998.
Location: Gatwick Airport.
Mission if I chose to accept it: To take a group of divers from Undersea Adventures to the hot sunny climes of Hurghada on the Egyptian Red Sea and suffer the hardships of a weeks diving while staying at the Hilton Hotel. It was a tough decision. Could I cope with wearing shorts and T-shirts everyday? Would I be able to put up with the warm water and clear visibility? Would the luxury of the Hilton hotel spoil me for life?
I knew it would be risky but at the end of the day a woman’s got to do what a woman’s got to do and so I bravely stepped onto the plane for some 'Fun in the sun.'
Within 15 minutes of arriving at the hotel several of the group including myself had already succumbed to wearing our shorts. Although it was dark the reflection from our lily white legs went a long way to lighting up the Egyptian night. The hotel was excellent and I felt a little like a kid in a toy shop when I was shown to my room and started to work out how all the gadgets worked and where all the mod cons were. Should I mention the bidet at this point? No perhaps we’ll save that for later!
After a good nights sleep we awoke to bright sunshine, a cloudless sky and the prospect of some perfect diving conditions. We were not disappointed. Our first dive site was Gotha Abu Ramada an ideal site for a settle in dive. Those people who had never dived on coral reefs before were amazed by the colours and the visibility and everybody had their appetites whet for the week ahead. In between dives we all had to put up with the great hardships of day-boat diving!... Dozing in the sunshine while waiting for lunch to be served is such hard work and then having to doze in the sun again to let your food settle really sorts out the men from the boys. At last it was time for an end to our torture as we arrived at our second dive site Arok Gigi.
The site was one that I had not dived before and consisted of seven coral pinnacles. After we had swum around the first three pinnacles all of which were abundant with fish and coral we approached the fourth and were treated to the sight of thousands of shoaling glass fish turning in unison in a frenzy of activity with Jacks and Lionfish darting in and out taking the opportunity for an easy meal. It doesn’t get any better than that and we all could have sat and watched the spectacle for hours.
As we chugged back into Hurghada the sunset rounded off a superb diving day and signalled the commencement of "apres dive" starting with the traditional "being thrown in the pool" for Paul who had just celebrated his hundredth dive. After a quick shower we decided to embark on another epic journey on one of the many manic minibuses that patrol Hurghada touting for business. We had some very lively minibus journeys during the week. One bus that we boarded had its own disco lighting system, another had Egyptian music being played very loudly performed by what sounded like Pinky and Perky and others were just best endured with your eyes closed!! We sampled quite a few of the local restaurants during the week and I got quite a taste for peas, which would appear to be the local vegetarian dish. The entertainment was a little limited although I was told that the Russian dancers were quite a sight, and the Egyptian singer in the Falfela was very entertaining in his own way and reminded a certain member of our group of "Santana" yes Bob OK!!
We also amused ourselves with tales from the bidet. Perhaps I should explain that it turned out that everyone had, had a play with the bidet in their rooms only to find that the jet of water powered out of it with so much force that it hit the ceiling knocking down the suspended ceiling slats! Unfortunately one of our party who shall remain nameless, "Mark", decided to wash his flip flops in his and so duly bent over the bidet with flip flops in hand, turned on the tap and was slapped hard in his face by the now jet washed flip flops. It was decided after this that, if you ever heard somebody knocking on your floor from below, you should dispatch a rescue party to help the poor person down from being pinned against their ceiling.
The diving continued to be excellent with one of the highlights being a trip to the wrecks of Abu Nuhas. The "Carnatic" and "Giannis D" really are amazing dive sites which satisfy both the ardent wreckies as well as those of us who are more into the marine life. Although it meant a very early start to the day everybody felt it was well worthwhile and the trip back on mirror like seas with the sun setting really made this into a memorable day. The weather could not have been better during the first 5 days of diving, and in between dives most people went in for some snorkelling to stay cool. One of the party managed to get a little cooler than the rest of us, how much is it worth to keep the photo censored Tom?? (Phil’s got the negative but it will cost you dearly).
The days flew past and it was soon time for our final day’s diving. The wind picked up and made the boat trip a lot more interesting. We dived in the more sheltered waters of Little Giftun and once off the choppy surface the diving was good with some of the largest Napoleon Wrasse that I’ve seen. The final dive site was Abu Ramada and it was here that Andy clocked up his hundredth hour and Chris his hundredth dive. Chris kept very quiet about this and so managed to avoid his dunking in the pool, however it has not been forgotten…and I’m sure we’ll make up for it sometime in the future. In celebration of a great weeks diving, an impromptu water fight was held on the sundeck and for all his cloak and dagger tactics Tom still got wetter than everybody else. The lesson to be learnt here was never turn your back on anybody especially if they’re called Bob or Jason!!
Our final evening was spent at the divers party held at the Hilton where we entertained ourselves with a "how to chop a tomato" game, (editors note-the least said about this the better for U.S.A's reputation) before venturing into the disco. As we boarded the plane the next day for out flight home we could all look back on a superb week of diving and camaraderie. I think you could say that it was MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!