2 February 2006

Egypt Day 7: Is This The End of Phill G?

We are booked on a boat trip to Farun's Island to snorkel around a good coral reef. We both wussed out and hired wet suits as the water probably wouldn't be as warm as the hotel pool. In case you don't know how wet suits work, they allow a little water in which your body heats up and the water cannot escape so it keeps you warm. Once you fully grasp that you never try to take a slash in the water with a wet suit on (unless it's out of fear)... The coral and wildlife was very impressive, everything from swordfish and the very poisonous stone fish as well as all forms of angel fish including an emperor angel fish I got quite close to (but never touched, it's like a strip bar – no touching). It was a lot more varied than in Eilat but that's not a surprise as we were told the other day in Israel “when we gave the Sinai peninsula back to the Egyptians we lost all of our good coral”.

After half an hour of fun, a bit of salt water in the mouth (twice the strength of the Med) and a grazed knee from getting too close to the shore I started getting concerned. All of a sudden the waves lapping over the back of my head felt quite fierce. I popped my head up and noticed several people heading back to the boat. I swam back with my head under the water, breathing though the snorkel as the waves had become so choppy to swim normally (and the sea water is so salty, much more than in the Med). After climbing back on board i found i was one of the last to return, most people were huddling from the strong wind at the back of the boat (in the dry area). As lunch was being prepared we sat there. mesmerised by the bouncy waves that would be "red flag' conditions on any coast. After lunch everyone said they would be quite happy to Cut short our trip in order to return quickly to dry (and warm) land. 26 people and not one was interested in staying, even though we'd paid £40 each.

As we set ''sail" it became clear that someone had pissed off the Egyptian god of wind (okay I know they don't have one, but maybe Neptune/Poseidon was holiday here). These pictures do nor do the conditions justice. Even from our hotel you can see the white foam as waves break forcefully well away from the coast. Out there in the middle of no-where (with no other boat in sight) it was horrendous. I was too concerned to get my phone back out to take any pictures! There were waves well over 12' and we not only had to travel over these peaks and troughs, but also go across them and so be knocked badly for side to side.

About I hour into our return voyage and three people were throwing up. These wee nor people a ho usually feel sea- sick as four others had already taken the free sea sickness medicine. In fact Xe first person to go off, all over her own coat that she was using to Keep warm, was a lovely old lady that has been on dozens of cruises. The middle aged man didn't seen the queasy type either and he soon went off over the side of the boat, right in front of me. By this time we had been going as long as it took to get there and there was no end in sight. I was feeling very queasy myself, a horrible combination of the excessive motions and hunger. I tried to distract my brain by singing nursery rhymes and making up nonsense songs to try to achieve some mind over matter (although l wasn't hopeful after the disastrous failure of my six minute walk to the the Dead sea). There were three really bad times when I genuinely felt I was going to regurgitate lunch - first time I moved quickly to the side so I didn't accidentally erupt over my fellow distraught passengers. By this time we felt we had seen the worst of it and we could battle it out for a little longer. With rad we came over a really big wave that Knocked us sideways and scared the hell out of just about everyone. A poor lady walking a long the wet deck when this happened and she was hurled face first into the side of the boat, a distance of over 1.5 metres. To say this freaked me and everybody oat is a gross understatement. A box of our shoes flipped over and they went cascading down the deck but nobody cared - we were too busy clinging on to any thing we could grab.
Many more big waves and stupid distractions later and we were close to the marina. This return trip had taken over two hours, one of the longest in recent memory (not mine obviously). As we *slowly*entered the bay we noticed a large group of people on the rocks, just behind the security fence. I noticed a few flashes and as we reached audible distance the started clapping our safe return! It turns out it was the staff from the water world centre who clearly realised just how bad it was out there. We clapped out of relief for the captain as we hurried to jump back on to Terra firma. As we walked away we vowed never to speak of it again.

It's dinner time now and I'm struggling to eat. It may be due to the rocking motions I'm still feeling from the sea, it may be due to the half tube of Pringles I scoffed as I lay safely back on my hotel bed earlier, who can say?

Six hours one from our return and it's nearly bed time. When I close my eyes and I still think I'm swaying but there is something for worse than that. We are supposed to fly back tomorrow but I've Just flicked on CNN and scared myself senseless. I can't face another trip like that return boat ride ever again and now I'm dreading waking up in the morning. KT tried to guess what had disturbed me - a hurricane perhaps? I'm afraid it is something far worse. I've just found out today is Groundhog Day.