El Quseir (Spring 2018)

Egypt in El Quseir Akassia Hotel, local diving school Wonderful Dive

From March 26th to April 2nd, 2018

Akassia Swiss Resort

Wonderful Dive

El Qoseir

El Qoseir (Egyptian Arabic: القصير‎, romanized: el-Qoṣēr, pronounced [elʔoˈsˤeːɾ]) is a city in eastern Egypt, located on the Red Sea coast. Populated for approximately 5,000 years, its ancient name was Leucus Limen (meaning "white port", from Greek Λευκός Λιμήν, Leukós Limḗn). El Qoseir is located 138 kilometers south of Hurghada, 139 km north of Marsa Alam and 73 km north of the Marsa Alam International Airport. In 1986, its population was approximately 20,000. Today, the population of El Qoseir is around 50,000.
Köppen-Geiger climate classification system classifies its climate as hot desert (BWh). Summers are hot and winters are warm. Winter night temperatures in El Qoseir, along with those of Marsa Alam and Sharm El Sheikh are the warmest of any other cities and resorts in Egypt. Additionally, Port Said, El Qoseir, Ras El Bar, Baltim, Damietta and Alexandria have the least temperature variation. Rain is very rare as in most of Egypt. Seasonal variation is small, comparable to Marsa Alam, but its summer days are cooler, even cooler than similar more northern areas at the Red Sea, like Hurghada and Sharm El Sheikh.
The highest record temperature was 46 °C (115 °F), recorded on July 12, 1983, while the coldest record temperature was 1 °C (34 °F), recorded on January 6, 1976.

Egypt: El Quseir: Day 1: Departure for Akassia

It's something else than getting up in the middle of the night. This holiday we get up at home at half past seven after a bad night's sleep. Arne woke up this night at 4 o'clock with almost 40 degrees fever, not really nice, not for him and certainly not for us. We do suspect that there is a bit of stress-fever to go on holiday, but it's really high so we're not really reassured. We get up, put the last things in our luggage and hand luggage and then at about nine we first leave for the pharmacy and then on to Zaventem. Everything goes smoothly, but that doesn't matter so much now; we have plenty of time. Also on the Quick Parking everything is OK, except that they leave almost without me, but I see from the parking that Evy seriously opens her mouth to make the driver stop. He stops, I get on the bus and then to Zaventem.

There I take a cart, check in. The automatic check-in is not possible, so just the usual situations. Why I had made the effort yesterday to check in beforehand is still unclear to me. Just put 2 kilos from one suitcase to another, because that one weighs 21.5 and the max for Egypt is 20. Further without many issues we're off to the check of the hand luggage, everything goes smoothly there and then to gate B something. We have something to eat here, because we still have time, fries and two sandwiches, sharing everything. Another drink and then we can go to our gate. The gate has been changed twice already, but in the end it is easy to do. We board more or less on time and will hopefully be able to leave on time.

The tradition continues: leaving together, everything on time, if I travel alone, all flights leave too late. I have just returned from India and each of the four flights, Brussels, Frankfurt, Bangalore and back were all delayed, from 45 minutes to more than 2 hours. Now that we are together, not really a delay, because the plane takes off a quarter of an hour after it was scheduled - that's not a delay, is it? We get on the plane and take seats 25 D, E and F and are ready to leave. Arne is not quite OK yet, so just before departure we have to take another tablet against fever and then take off. The flight is interrupted by dozens of messages about what is and isn't allowed and about the flight and its conditions. Well, a charter for sure. A drink on the way and a waffle to eat and then some sleep or try to sleep anyway.

At 5 o'clock we're there and then we can take a minibus to the airport building and get a visa, then to the checkpoint, then get the luggage and then have some suitcases checked. Pff. We take bus 51 and after half an hour it's gone and it takes about the same time to get to the hotel. There is some annoyance, because it takes and lasts and we only have 20 minutes left to eat, otherwise we have nothing. Just a bit mad at the hotel and at Neckermann; they have to arrange this much better. Already 12 hours on the road and then you can miss this. Plus nobody has remembered what that reception guy stood there telling us. So, they don't want to change their policy and we have the choice: room without food or eat something first. Well then you have no choice. So we eat something and then quickly get everything and go inside and then through the reception to the room: 2804. The third time, the third time another room.

Around ten o'clock Arne is in his bed without a fever and so are we half an hour later.

Egypt: El Quseir: Day 2: Swimming pool and arrange everything for diving

We sleep a long time. There is no pressure or stress anywhere; we only have to go to breakfast before 10 o'clock. Then we can take a look at the diving centre and then swim or do something else. We are not really in holiday mode yet, but that will come soon. A quiet walk to the breakfast restaurant. This time it is not the big restaurant, but a smaller one next to it. We knew there was a building here, but not that you could eat here. We suspect that it is really mega quiet here, because the previous times that large space of the restaurant was really necessary. We are now close to the dive centre, so we go take a look. Jessica sees us and comes to say very friendly hello, actually little things changed since last time, just another diving school, but most people are still the same here. I already sign up for 2 dives tomorrow of which the first one is a check dive. The following days I can decide later what I'm going to do, diving or swimming pool with the family. We'll see.

After breakfast we pick up all our stuff and we can go to the pool. First Arne is reluctant to go in alone, first with daddy, then with mommy, but then he's all gone alone, no problemo. He goes of all the slides here without help, he suddenly walks out of the pool and we wonder what he is going to do. I have to go to the toilet, mummy, and all of a sudden he does it all by himself. Man, man, four years but he's growing up fast. He had said at first that he didn't know anything here anymore, but after knowing the toilets again, it can't be a coincidence: he's been here before. We lie quietly in the shade, play frisbee for a while and by that time it's lunch-time. On foot to the room, then to the restaurant, something to eat and then Evy has to go to the spa for her massage and for her facial and foot treatment. From 2 to 4 she is gone and then I have to go to the diving centre and arrange the paperwork for the dives tomorrow.

Arne is rather lazy during those two hours. He doesn't want to do anything, he just wants to rest, but lying on the bed and resting is not an option. I, on the other hand, had almost fallen asleep. So I had to sit outside and look at the birds, not a good plan either, then make a puzzle and make it again, I'll be fine. A little later making a drawing for mummy, because oh god bless him, he misses his mummy 2 hours. And then all of a sudden - an hour and a half has already passed - he wants to go swimming. He didn't want anything for that, not even an ice cream, so we go back to the pool. Once there, he doesn't want to go back, because we don't have his swimming bands with us. Well, dad doesn't have that much patience, so back to the room and we don't do anything anymore. A little later mommy arrives, she takes a shower with Arne and I am going to arrange everything at Wonderful Dive in the meantime. Everything explained, all information received, all filled out and signed, so we're ready for tomorrow. I wait five minutes and then Evy and Arne arrive, well timed. We go to the playground together, but Arne is not interested, again not, just like this afternoon. How irritating! So let's go for a drink against his will, but yes, if nothing is good for him anyway, we can make something out of it ourselves, can't we? Aperitif in the bar and then at half past six to the restaurant for dinner.

We take a bit of everything and enjoy the food, even Arne eats well this evening, he seems to be ready with it. Drink something with dinner, then have a pasta made a la minute and Evy goes for a dessert afterwards and then back to the room. Around eight o'clock there, watch a DVD, sit outside and then we go to bed. We also sleep around half past nine and can already look forward to a nice day tomorrow.

Egypt: El Quseir: Day 3: Wednesday March 28th,  2018: Diving on Zerib Kebir

The alarm clock goes off at a quarter to seven, the alarm clock Arne had already gone off at 5, but that was only for a quick stop in the bathroom. We have to go looking in the dark where the bathroom is, so Arne sure is, it’s even more difficult for him than for us. I prepare my camera and put everything in the bag to take with me to the dive centre. But first a small breakfast. Arne and I quickly get something so we can start and then Evy can get something too. I don't eat too much, neither does Arne, but I have an excuse. I never eat much when I go diving. Arne is not eating very well this holiday, but that might be okay. I have to go back to the room, because I forgot water. Quickly get a bottle and fill it up at the dive centre. I prepare everything and put everything on the spot for the Jeep Trips, then I go and check the Nitrox tanks, but they say to do that there. OK then. We'll see. Just wait and they will come and get me. Steffen and a young lady are already in the jeep and in 15 minutes we are at the place where we should be. In the hotel Rohanu Beach Resort Wonderful Dive also has a diving centre, so we actually go to the colleagues, neighbours take a look. Here we drive into a long driveway that takes us to the entrance of the hotel. Just past the gate on the right and cross a small piece of sand to the dive centre. There we put everything on a large carpet and then prepare it. A briefing to Steffen and me and then we can get the rest of the job done. We walk over the jetty that takes us to the start of the dive. There we have to check everything and then leave.

A guy from Wonderful Dive guides us for a moment, gives Steffen a kilo more, but for me 5 is OK. Just two quick exercises for our check dive and then it's OK. Fill up the mask and throw away the regulator and get it back. Well, let's start with the dive. Left shoulder against the reef and then follow until the turn and then out. That would be a mini report of forty minutes of diving, so let’s mention a bit more. Immediately after getting down, a puffer fish on the coral that just swims away when I arrive. A little further on I see something sticking out of the reef, so I quickly descend to it. At two meters Steffen realizes that it is a moray eel. I had seen it already for a while. Nice start of this first dive. Strikingly many giant clams and remarkably few rays. A lot of anthias; they are everywhere between the coral as always in Egypt. Always nice to put your head under water here. The damselfish hide as always between the coral: they are bright green and always nice to keep an eye on. Maximum depth is twenty-three during the dive and we hang around twenty metres here anyway. So some air consumption, apparently especially with my buddy. After twenty minutes I ask him how much air he has and he shows me 130 bar. That's OK, because I'm at 150. But then it suddenly goes fast. Really only two minutes further and he does signals 110 bar.

So I think I'll return slowly. Suddenly I see a locomotive leaving for jetty. Man, man, that guy suddenly speeds away. What we have done in the past 25 minutes, he now does in less than half the time. We'll have to ask him what he was bitten by. I do it faster than I am used to, because I don't want to stay too far behind, but also not too fast, because I don't want to start hyperventilating because of the effort or something. I do take into account that I am not too deep. If something happens at these ten metres, I can go up quickly without too many problems. The downside is that I don't really enjoy the dive anymore, because I'm constantly looking to see if I can still see his bubbles. When I'm back at the ropes with him, he's almost at his 60 bar, yes of course, what would you like, racing like that. Then of course the air consumption goes sky-high. So very easy going we do our safety stop and I still calm down for a while, enjoy the school of trumpetfish here and then calmly out. First we remove the fins like the guide said and then we go up the rope and up the stairs. Fins out is important when there are waves so you don't get knocked out. It is better to find support with only your boots on. Steffen decides not to do this, but does not encounter any problems.

Down the jetty to the dive centre, get back to your zen, drink some water and some tea as well, which is offered here. But we have to discuss what was going on: his explanation: so fast because you never know what's happening. My answer: if something happens, I'd rather be with my buddy than alone. Well his face said enough: he understood what I meant and the second dive would be better. Talk to Steffen and the guide and then half an hour will soon be over. The girl who was with us is still in training and they are already leaving. We ask for the briefing and then we can go back to the end of the jetty. There were our tanks ready, ah yes, we had just done that. Quickly into the water, on the right this time and go diving. We are just behind the group in training and can easily see where they dive. The same fish as before, butterflyfish of different species, yellow, red, coloured, all equally beautiful and of course the troop of anthias, really blissful. Add to this the fact that a school of young barracudas is swimming right in front of us. I go closer for a while, but I don't want to disturb the animals too much, so I let them be. We keep following the reef along our right shoulder and to our left we regularly see many reef blocks, so of course we have to go there too. We pass the small group in training and they do their exercises and we look at the different blocks. Really great. Between two blocks I see a mega scorpion fish, a really nice specimen. I do a sign to my buddy and he has seen him too. We both take some pictures and that's it. Back between the rocks and back to the reef. Bigeyes are also in the holes of the rocks here and then suddenly we see three or four lionfish together. Ah yes, we didn't have one yet. Always beautiful and fun and certainly this dark species: it has a bit more charm than the others.

We see a school of fish swimming in a circle, I try to take a picture of it but on film this is better shown. In the meantime we are on our way back and will not make it to the hour, I suspect. A large yellow goldsaddle goatfish comes to say hello and so we can slowly return to the school of trumpetfish. They still hang around the ropes where we went into the water. Also a yellow perch is present and swims nicely in the sun. In between all this we do our safety stop and can go up. We wash our stuff here already and then drive back to the hotel, which takes about fifteen minutes. Just hang everything up there and then to Arne and Evy. We are happy to be back together after a nice one and a half dive. I go to them at the pool, then in the room drop everything off, change clothes and then have something to eat at the beach restaurant. It's already full there, so we can start eating right away. Just like last time we make a hamburgers or just eat something from the buffet. We drink something and want to go back to the room and then go back to the swimming pool, but that doesn't work. We can't take Arne with us anymore, he wants to watch a movie and rest. Of course he has been sick. We convince him to go to the beach, but just the he and I.

Evy goes for a drink at the beach bar. We are just on the beach and Arne wants his mommy already. After a few attempts to play in the sand, we go to the bar and have a drink and an ice cream. We return to the room, Arne watches a DVD and we sit here until we can eat and we do, eventually after a shower at a quarter past six we have something to eat. The food is normal as usual here: buffet, not bad but not exaggerated either. And what they still do, is to wash all the fruit and vegetables in potable water, so you don't have to worry about stomach and intestines. Everything OK, a nice meal and then back to the room, Arne in bed by eight and we at just a bit past nine, almost half past nine let's say.

Egypt: El Quseir: Day 4: Thursday March 29th, 2018: Quiet day at the pool

Holidays! So sleep. And apparently we need it, because we sleep almost for ten hours. It's been a long time since we've slept so long, but the last few months have been very hectic, so that's not surprising. We get ready for breakfast and notice that it is no longer in the small restaurant, but in the big one. We already noticed when we stood up that something was going on. There is a mega strong wind, the palm trees are really fighting against the wind. Above the trees there is a fog and the terrace is dotted with sand. This has really been a sandstorm. I don't think there will be much diving today. But I hadn't planned any dives anyway, just planned that I would take a look to do the next dives. Breakfast is quiet, an omelette, because the hard-boiled egg didn't look good. After breakfast we check with Wonderful Dive and register for two dives tomorrow on Maheleg and Sunday on Sharm Tachtani, the last one by boat.

It is from Jessica that I know that there has been a sandstorm. The wind will continue in the coming days, but without sand. Everything is just full of sand. A part of the shallow swimming pool is full of sand, the tables, the sun loungers, the ground, everything, everything, everything, everything. And the annoying thing is that these are all tiny little particles that crawl between everything. Heard many stories that this mega is bad for cameras, laptops and so on. We put everything as much as possible in closed bags and after breakfast and after arranging the dives, we can go to the swimming pool.

We arrive there and are later than usual, because the sprinklers are supposed to go already, but that is not yet the case. They are still trying to remove the sand from the filters and the swimming pool. The deep part of the small pool is OK after twenty minutes, so Arne can go in there, an hour later the other one as well, but then it's time to go to dinner. Arne enjoys himself in the pool, although it is very cold and every fifteen minutes he comes out for a while because he is cold. This is how the morning passes quickly. Arne has promised to be tough, so he gets a foam water pistol to play with in the pool. So far he has been pretty good, so we’re OK, we'll give you a little present. He is very happy with it and has a lot of fun. But we got out of bed late, visited the reception to say that the lamp outside was broken, so the morning is really short. We want to have something to eat in the beach restaurant, but that is closed due to the weather, so we walk to the main restaurant and have something to eat in there. There is not much to say about that, because after lunch we return to the children's pool.

There it's just the same drill: water in, water out, drying up, warming up and getting something to drink. Around four o'clock we return to the room and drink an aperitif, then take a shower and have something to eat again. Wow. That's food again. We don't do much else here. And actually a person eats a lot one day. Arne is not very well, because after two bites of a sandwich and a piece of cucumber he falls asleep in his chair. He wasn't really a good kid at the table, but that must have played a part in it. I carry him to the room, he actually sleeps right away and we put ourselves on the terrace. I go and get something at the pool bar and we drink it while writing the report and reading a book. Around half past nine we also go to bed and then Arne wakes up. Not a very good idea. He starts coughing, and he keeps coughing. Let's get up, let's drink, puff, give something against the cough. But the cough doesn't stop. He keeps coughing. And then it's really not normal anymore in terms of noise: wet bed, so let's go to the toilet, have everything coughed up, give new sheets and then try to sleep. Just a few more nose spray and that will apparently do its job. We still get a good night's sleep in the end.

Egypt: El Quseir: Day 5: Friday March 30th, 2018: Maheleg and afternoon swimming pool

Dive site Maheleg. We have been there in the past. Well, today we go back there for two dives. Just get up on time, not too early, not too late and then to the dive centre. Around a quarter to nine we are there, quickly (or rather at ease and very calm) get everything ready. Apparently there are some divers today. I also think this is almost the only dive site where people can dive today. The red flag has been there for a few days now and when you see the sea, you know why. Quickly we check the Nitrox, 31 and 32 and then we sit down with Arne and Evy, until they call me to go diving. We leave with the van at five minutes to Maheleg. Really not far this dive spot.

Achmed gives the briefing and divides the buddy teams. I'll dive with Tristan (or is it Kristan) from Austria and we discuss a few things. Easy when you speak a few languages. He already warns me that he uses a lot of air, but that only reassures me, so no worries. We are normally the third buddy team in a row behind Achmed, but we can wait for a while at five metres or so, but we actually decide to leave alone, nice and easy, because there are two who still have to do a check dive. So we start already and are at ease right away. This side of Maheleg has a lot of coral, a sandy plateau and for the rest beautiful pieces of coral and beautiful fish. We start with a puffer, a yellow butterflyfish and so on. A beautiful big lionfish, a couple of coral climbers who always lie beautifully on the coral itself. A few tubeworms in the holes of the reef and we've had most of the things. Really a nice place, easy to dive, because there is a zero point zero current and so we dive to almost thirty metres and we can hold out for a while. My first anemone fish this holiday and they’re always fun, lots of giant clams and so we reach the point where we have to return.

We do this quickly, we go diving a bit shallower, because we are at 2 minutes from decompression time. Tristan must have been there by now, because he has been diving 2 to 5 metres deeper than I. But on the way back he does things differently, then he hangs above me, but for the rest no problem. After about ten minutes we reach the plateau with the sand and there we see two rays, the yellow ones with the blue dots, really great again. We spot a large moray eel and then we arrive at the ropes where we can make our safety stop. Always nice under the jetty with the small fluttering fish and the schools that hang in the current and swell here. After 54 minutes and 70 bar left, we climb the stairs and rest for a while. Everything OK. We talk a bit and after 45 minutes we get ready for the second dive.

Briefing to the south side of Maheleg and we participate this time as well. My buddy was normally planning not to do a second dive, but apparently it was so OK that he does. This time we leave to the other side and immediately see some young fish, which I should check in my books, but they are beautiful: white with orange balls and a long tail and the other about the same, also white and orange with black, but smaller, super - didn't work out so well on photo. A small scorpion fish lies on the rocks and looks at us as if we are aliens, but his face looks worse than ours. A lonely Red Sea pipefish, really great. We do like before, not too deep this time and dive at ease, up to half an hour and then we return. Here are some big pinnacles, not too deep so you can already see the sun shining here and that is a beautiful sight. You can hardly describe it, but it's really amazing what you can see here under water. The anthias swim between the coral and form small orange spots on the reef, the different types of butterflyfish are also here and almost everywhere the coral is in perfect condition. What we said during the surface interval is true, you can see it decreasing with the years, especially as the one lady said: 25 years ago, then it must have been even better here. A nemo family with their anemone and then we're back at the ropes. This time we are already around the hour, so exceed the maximum allowed sixty minutes. We do our safety stop and enjoy the fish here and eventually it will be 65 minutes dive time: two hours under water today, not bad.

We step far back from the jetty to where we change clothes and then it's back to the hotel, rinse things off and get something to eat. Arne was already hungry, so I see them on the terrace for a late lunch. From here it goes back to the swimming pool and for a couple of hours on and off the slide and then it's to the pool bar. We haven't been here very often in the past, but this time we have. At half past five we went to the room to take a shower, then three quarters of an hour later we went back for a bite to eat and brought something from the bar, drank it and then went to bed on time. So far it has never been late and today it hasn't been either. Tomorrow we'll take a day off and then we'll be counting down.

Day 6: Day swimming pool, chilling and swimming pool, chilling

Sleep late, because a nice quiet day today. In the morning we first have breakfast, very quiet and then to the pool. Also very quiet. Today there won't be much writing and a lot will be said: quiet. So here we are, a quiet day. Breakfast is the usual stuff, back like the last few days in the big restaurant and today we have trouble finding a place, but in the end we still have a spot. Then we set course for the room to pick up everything and then go to the swimming pool. The water is still very cold, so we let Arne play in it alone. He loves it the most, because once his friends are here in the water as well, mum and dad are done; not interested in us anymore. The water is already flowing down everywhere when we get there, so there's plenty of entertainment. We rest on the loungers in the shade. Then suddenly Evy has a hunch: tomorrow I will go diving and she has to go to the spa at 2 o'clock. She is going to ask if this is still possible today and she succeeds. So from 2 to 4:30 she is a little bit of this world with the massage and facial treatment and pedicure.

But first I want to enjoy the fact that Arne is having a great time at the pool with a - I think - Czech girl. The daddy is there all the time and helps her, but Arne is on her own. He goes up the stairs, down the slide and so on. I lie quietly in the shade and enjoy the sun and the warmth because we have already heard that it is still cold and wet in Belgium. Of course it will be noon soon and we can have something to eat. We show 2 waiters from a year and a half ago a picture of them with Arne. That one was constantly in a bad mood towards us, but the other one is more than okay. He will get a tip. After dinner we go back to the pool together and Evy goes to the spa a little later.

Arne is already in the pool, will be in it for an hour, playing with the same girl as this morning, then I will take him out of the water for 15 minutes, because it is still very cold and I don't want him to get sick again. After that he can go back in and I just enjoy the peace and quiet. It gets too cold by the time it’s almost four o’clock and we return to the room. We put our stuff there and then we go to the beach bar. Just when we want to leave, mommy comes back, so we can leave together. We drink something there, eat an ice cream, follow the quiz and then go back to the room. We shower quietly and then go for something to eat. We quickly have a table outside and can quietly get something and eat it. Not too much. Not that we follow a diet here, but we don't eat that much here because it's hot. When it is hot, you have to drink well and we do. We go back to the room on time and go back to bed in time. Tomorrow is early day, because then I will do my last two dives this holiday, because the day after that it's already over.

Time flies when you’re having fun!

Day 7: Sharm Tachtani 2 dives and afternoon pool and beach bar

I'm writing this a few weeks after returning from the holiday, so it might not be as accurate. In the end it is my intention to give a short sketch and above all the atmosphere of the dive and the location, which I can still recall a few weeks later, because the holiday was great again and these two dives (especially the second one) will stick in my head for a while. After breakfast it is directly to the dive centre, nearby, just around the corner from the restaurant. There I set everything up for the boat, the last time I say goodbye to my two loves this holiday, because that's a disadvantage: being alone, pffffff, I never get used to that. They say there is enough Nitrox on the boat, just like last time, so we get in the van and drive to the jetty. There the boat is ready. We have to wait until they have put everything on it and then we are allowed on the boat. Now we have to wait for the divers from the other hotel, they are almost half an hour later, so we leave at half past nine instead of nine. In itself it doesn't matter much. I already have a chat with two Germans who are here with their children.

When everyone is there, we get a briefing from the boat, the usual stuff here. And then we leave for about half an hour in the direction of Sharm Tachtani. Everything goes smoothly, first prepare tanks and then take a quiet seat on the boat and quietly sit out the ride. We arrive almost on time, with a small delay, because there is a lot of wind and the waves are quite high. Once there it's not too bad, because it's a small bay that stops the waves. The sea is not flat, but it looks promising. Then briefing. Two dives here. The first with the zodiac to the outside of the reef, there right shoulder and coming back towards the boat. The second one will go the other way and there the water is calmer. A problem with the guide: he doesn't want to decide who will dive with whom. In the end we arrange it ourselves, but I didn't like that. He leaves with seven divers first, then we come without a guide and there are seven of us, myself included.

We wait a quarter of an hour before the zodiac has dropped the others off and then we can leave ourselves. We don't go as far as the first group, I don't know why, but it's true. Then first the first 2 in the water, then the next 2, then I together with the woman right across me and then the last one so that we all hang on the surface. Let's orientate and look for each other and then we can go down. There is a German boy who has only just learned to dive here and he is accompanied by his dad. So we don't go too deep, but that doesn't matter much. The reef is to our right, there is a piece of sand in front of it and then it goes back up a bit and there are the coral gardens; nice view and after 10 minutes we cross over from the reef to that higher lying coral garden, but we won't stay there for long. We crossed a bit too late, or didn't get dropped far enough by the zodiac, because we already see the end of the corals and there it goes a lot deeper. So we shouldn't be there. We enjoy the richness of the reef, the fish and the corals, but we don't really encounter much special. After twenty minutes we arrive at the curve, where we have to choose the right way to go to the inside of the reef and there we already know that we are not far from the boat. Another twenty minutes further we've already passed it before I realise it, so back and there between the rocks we enjoy life here. As I said before for Egypt I didn't see anything special about this dive, but I did see it in a relaxed way, so it's a big OK.

Surface interval of about 45 minutes, so replace the tank already, measure Nitrox, or not, because again like last time there is no second tank of Nitrox provided for me. Too bad, but with normal air then. Then we get a little repetition of the briefing, the distribution of the buddy teams and then we can start. It's completely different here from the outside of the reef. Just adjusting the camera for air bubbles from the divers below me and then down. First we see a crocodile fish, that's always nice to start with. I photograph it from both sides and then I can see what his or her best side is. Then it goes on quietly with beautiful corals, soft and hard: some of them are really immense, impossible to estimate the actual size. Also large sponges, really everything is super. And then we end up in a kind of coral forest. High pieces of coral stick up in the water. On the top there are hard corals and on the sides there are white soft corals. It looks like they are old tree trunks with white mosses on them, really a special, enchanting but very beautiful sight. I've never seen anything like it. And not one, but several next to each other. We return for a moment, because we have spotted a turtle, really nice. That was a long time ago. Just enjoy the turtle and take some pictures. We dive further until about half an hour and then return to the boat.

I take a dive between the rocks, because I have seen a flatworm. This is the only thing that comes close to a nudibranch this holiday, because I haven't seen it at all. So let's go back to the boat for good. Stop at a large yellow coral, because there is a scorpion fish sunbathing, or so it seems. Another look at some of those big trees, one of them is really super overgrown with all kinds of things and there are also lots of fish here. A large school of small glass fish sits in a cavity and come out now and then. Just like the groupers it is a swimming in and out on the swell of the sea or the appearance of a diver. Just the safety stop under the boat and then back up the ladder and it was worthwhile for the last dive. Gently take the gear off and then dry off and enjoy dry clothes again in the sun. For a moment I have to look for my towel. I talk to a few people, because it was no longer in place. Apparently the son of the couple I had talked to, had taken it. They had 5 and were only 4, so I get one back. Me happy.

Then we start the way back and I talk to Ufuk Kentenci. We started talking after I showed him a picture of the turtle right next to him. Super picture, he was very happy with it. Once at home I forwarded it to him. The way back doesn't take long or seems to take less time when you're talking to someone. Once at the jetty near Maheleg, get in the van and return to the hotel. We will have to be quick, because we are almost too late for lunch. Evy and Arne have already eaten and they have prepared a plate for me. Great! I eat quietly and after that we can take it with a golf cart to the swimming pool and I can go to the diving base, because my stuff still has to be rinsed. Now I need to do it very good, because all the salt has to be removed and hopefully everything will be dry by tomorrow to pack. Half an hour later I'm at the pool, so then it's time to enjoy and do nothing.

When we return to the room we pass by the reception to see what time they come to pick us up tomorrow. We can already see that tonight is going to be a great dinner, because everything is very nice and nicely decorated in the theme Easter. I have to refer to the pictures, because they say more than a thousand words. We enjoy a cocktail and good service from our friend from a year and a half ago and after the good food we go back to the room to get some rest, put Arne in bed and write a report.

Day 8: Swimming pool, packing and returning home

Today is Easter Monday April 2nd and we still have a little over half a day to do what we want. The morning is a morning of breakfast, swimming, enjoying the sun and doing nothing. All nice things to end your holiday. We have the room until 3 o'clock or so, because a little later they come for us. After lunch I first go to the diving base to get my equipment and I take Arne with me, so Evy can start packing everything. We pay, put everything in the bag and say goodbye to Tamer, Yasser and Alaa. The others aren't there, either gone diving or a free day or something. We arrange everything, I buy a T-shirt for Arne and myself and then we can go back to the room. Evy has already done almost everything and all I have to do is pack up my diving suitcase. It's easy, we take a shower and enjoy the sun on our terrace. A bit later we call to pick up our luggage, drink something in the bar at the reception and then just wait for them to come and pick us up.

The bus is more or less on time, we arrive at the airport after half an hour and that's where the shit can start. By checking, checking in, filling out papers, passport control, then checking again that the previous checks are well done, as always in this kind of countries. Then we go through the check for hand luggage again and then wait for half an hour before we can board. These are all short stories that actually take a long time, but which are actually of no use to anyone. On the plane, watching DVD (Arne anyway), he goes to sleep and sleeps all the way to the landing: SUPER! Good luck because it took a long time before we could buy something to eat, really mega badly arranged. A flight of 5 hours and a half but an hour and a half was enough to rest and even then the captain has to say her thing in between. Really annoying. I still don't understand why they do this and if it is of any use to anyone at all. That's it. We land on time, have our luggage quickly and then we can take the bus to the parking lot (wait half an hour anyway) and then the last part home, which we sleep at about 3 o'clock. Hopefully Arne will sleep a bit in the morning.