Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Dahab of our Dreams

I first fell in love with the Sinai in Dahab.
This tiny stretch of cafes and campsites hugs the coast of the Red Sea, and is filled with Egyptians making their living, backpacking tourists, and Scuba divers. I went there right before I was to become a diver.
The recent bombings at the Lantern, the Al Capone and the Ghazala Supermarket are especially cruel, because they targeted local, Muslim, working or holidaying Egyptians. (Not that bombing swanky hotels, rich foreigners or vacationing Israelis is allowable, but it does fall into familiar patterns.)The idea is to cripple the local population and instill them with fear, while scaring away foreign tourists and their money.
I feel for the victims and their families, and their communities, and the entire industry. Dahab is not a rich place: the divers that camp there are budget travellers who scrape together their piastres for a campsite and an omelet at one of the beachside tables.
I have a clear memory of snorkeling in Dahab. When I lifted my face from the water, I could see the dry, red cliffs of the Sinai and the one small beachside road. It was dry, dusty, and dramatically lonely. And with one tilt of my face back into the water, a huge, lush beautiful world opened before me, filled with color and corals and life. I felt like this was the beauty of the Sinai: At first glance one thinks it is a dry desert triangle of bombs and conflict wedged between warring nations. But right under the surface is a riot of color, life, emotion and hope. This is the Dahab I remember, the Dahab I will tell divers about, the Dahab I fell in love with, the Dahab of my dreams.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Flying with Eagles

Went Diving yesterday off the Kohala coast. May actually be getting a part-time job as a Divemaster (Dive-Mistress to you!).
The highlight were two Spotted Eagle Rays flying in formation. They appeared in the distance out of the blue haze, hung in the water above a coralhead, then peeled off: One circling us and heading off into the blue, the other turning and leading us shoreward, then flipping and swimming off into the blue as well.
These photos are not those rays, but one that hung out with my brother in Palau. Rays are incredibly graceful and amazing to share the water with. They hang in meditative gracefulness, with no fear or skittishness, and then with the tiniest of flaps, disappear into the blue. They remind us of one of the joys of diving: The feeling of flying.
Apparently non-divers only feel that weightless joy in their dreams.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Pololu Valley Sunday

Off to Hawi for Sushi Rock and a short coast-side hike. This is what Pololu looked like!

Monday, April 03, 2006

Inbox Fun!

If you think your day at work is bad:

Rob is a commercial saturation diver for Global Divers in Louisiana. He performs underwater repairs on off shore drilling rigs. Below is the E-mail he sent to his sister. She then sent it to radio station 103.2 on FM dial Ft. Wayne, Indiana, who was sponsoring a worst job experience contest. Needless to say, she won.

Hi Sue,

Just another note from your bottom-dwelling brother. Last week I had a bad day at the office. I know you've been feeling down lately at work, so I thought I would share my dilemma with you to make you realize it's not so bad after all.

Before I can tell you what happened to me, I first must bore you with a few technicalities of my job. As you know, my office lies at the bottom of the sea. I wear a suit to the office. It's a wetsuit. This time of year the water is quite cool. So what we do to keep warm is this: We have a diesel powered industrial water heater. This $20,000 piece of equipment sucks the water out of the sea. It heats it to a delightful temperature. It then pumps it down to the diver through a garden hose, which is taped to the air hose. Now this sounds like a darn good plan, and I've used it several times with no complaints.

What I do, when I get to the bottom and start working, is take the hose and stuff it down the back of my wetsuit. This floods my whole suit with warm water. It's like working in a Jacuzzi. Everything was going well until! All of a sudden, my butt started to itch. So, of course, I scratched it. This only made things worse. Within a few seconds my butt started to burn. I pulled the hose out from my back, but the damage was done. In agony I realized what had happened. The hot water machine had sucked up a jellyfish and pumped it into my suit. Now since I don't have any hair on my back, the jellyfish couldn't stick to it. However, the crack of my butt was not as fortunate. When I scratched what I thought was an itch, I was actually grinding the jellyfish into the crack of my butt.

I informed the dive supervisor of my dilemma over the communicator. His instructions were unclear due to the fact that he, along with five other divers, were all laughing hysterically. Needless to say I aborted the dive. I was instructed to make three agonizing in-water decompression stops totaling thirty-five minutes before I could reach the surface to begin my chamber dry decompression. When I arrived at the surface, I was wearing nothing but my brass helmet. As I climbed out of the water, the medic, with tears of laughter running down his face, handed me a tube of cream and told me to rub it on my butt as soon as I got in the chamber. The cream put the fire out, but I couldn't poop for two days because my butt was swollen shut.

So the next time you're having a bad day at work, think about how much worse it would be if you had a jellyfish shoved up your butt.

Now repeat to yourself, "I love my job, I love my job, I love my job." Now whenever you have a bad day, ask yourself, is this a jellyfish bad day?

(My Brother Michael took this gorgeous jellyfish photo in Palau. To see his other photos, see the link in the sidebar or find some HERE.)