Last Day In Paradise

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This blog entry about the events of Monday, June 14, 2004 was originally posted on June 17, 2004.

DAY 240:  It was only about 7:45 in the morning when I was out of bed and back in the comforts of the pillow lounge on the beach of Penguin Village.  Reason (other than the fact that pillow lounges rule):  I had to finish all my written homework for my Advanced Open Water diver certification course to turn in later that day.  Apparently my classmate and dive buddy Oz had the same idea because he was out and at the pillow cafe by eight to do the same.  I had finished most of my homework by the time Oz arrived — it was fairly easy; the homework was open book, and the book was written at a fifth-grade reading level — and so I did the courteous American high school thing by letting him copy.

FOR MY LAST DIVE — coincidentally on my last full day in my new paradise — we rode in a truck to a bay area known as “Golden Blocks” (picture above).  Golden Blocks was south of Dahab in an area passed a police checkpoint where the driver of each car had to have a pass filled out — or, in the case of our driver, three cigarettes to bribe the officer with. 

Our fifth and final dive was a Navigational Dive, where we had to pass a simple test underwater by swimming in an (almost) perfect square, by use of an underwater compass.  More math was involved with this one — I had to face the difficult task of adding 90 at every turn — but in the end, everyone in the class passed.  We spent the rest of the time underwater admiring the coral and the big sea turtle feeding on some bottom sea grass just five feet away from us.


“GIVE ME YOUR WRITTEN REVIEW,” dive instructor Walid requested of me when we got back to the Penguin Divers dive shop.  I stalled for time, pretending I had it back in my room, buying some extra time for Oz, who was in his room still copying my answers.  He rushed through it and turned it in — not that it mattered because it was just a formality; I’m sure Walid never even read it.  It wasn’t until afterwards that I thought to write, “Are you really reading this, Walid?” as one of my answers.

With everything turned in, log books signed and stamped and payment made, Oz and I were finally PADI Advanced Open Water Certified Divers, qualified to go diving anywhere in the world at depths up to about 100 ft.  Oz was so excited about being a diver in Dahab that he decided to prolong his trip and stay another week to do more diving since he had no pressing obligations back home just yet.  He had to run his plan by the wife of course, but she, a tall, easy-going Spanish woman named Rosa was okay with it; in fact she would have stayed another week too if she weren’t starting a new job in the next two days. 


MY LAST DAY IN PARADISE was pretty much just like my first and every other time I wasn’t diving:  lounging out with a book or notepad in the Penguin Village pillow lounge along the beach with an ice cold lassie or milkshake.  The rest of Team Barracuda gradually poured into my little cushioned alcove after waking up at different times in the afternoon — they had all done the early morning Mt. Sinai trek earlier and slept in all day.  Still a bit drowsy, they too just lazily sat amidst the pillows for another day of complete rest and relaxation — that is, except for the occasional annoyance of a little girl tout trying to sell hand-woven friendship bracelets (“I don’t want one!” I’d say) or one of the many street cats scratching up stuff or meowing for food scraps (one actually vomited on the carpet).

By dusk, our group was fairly substantial, including all members of Team Barracuda and some newcomers, including a young hippie-type that Angie and Denise referred to as “The Human Shield” because he over exaggerated about traveling to “dangerous” Jordan where he’d have to use a human shield to defend himself from flying bullets.  Sitting around the table, we passed around the hookah pipe to inhale apple and honey goodness until Butch and Cheryl busted out the bottle of cheap Red Star vodka they bought in Aswan — so cheap that it tasted and smelled like it was fermented with feet.  Denise and I went out on a mission to get lemonade and soda to mix it with, but it was no help; orange soda and Red Star just tasted like orange feet. 

Giving up on the cheap but nauseating home-mixed liquor, we decided to go out for a celebratory pub-crawl.  The reason for celebration:  my last day in Dahab.  We walked down the promenade to where the other bars were and ended up in one shaped in the fashion of an old schooner.  It was a session of gelatin shots, daiquiris, beers, other cocktails and conversation until we ended up next door at another pub with a pool table.  Angie and I held the table all night with equal skill levels, and to mix things up we played with our opposite arm, just like we did in our rock throwing contest on our special felucca ride.  For some reason, it just wasn’t as funny this time around.


IT WAS ABOUT 2:30 IN THE MORNING when Denise, Greg, Angie and I were back at the Penguin Village courtyard, standing around for an awkward goodbye.  I hate goodbyes, particularly with people who develop into friends, but there I was again in the familiar situation.  Actually, I was too tired to be emotional at all, so it was just handshakes, hugs and spoken phrases like “Keep in touch,” or “See you next year.”  I went back to my room and packed everything up; I was to leave for Cairo in a minivan with Oz’s wife Rosa just three and a half hours from then.

Angie was apparently a better person at goodbyes because when I opened the door at six the next morning, she had left me a farewell and “keep in touch” note on my doorstep.  Next to the note was one of the woven friendship bracelets that the little girl tout was trying to sell me that afternoon in the pillow lounge.  I may have not wanted it when she was trying to sell me one, but under the new circumstances, it was a welcome and appreciated gift — a reminder of my times with Team Barracuda, Team Shawl, and above all, the pillows and cushions of the paradise known as Dahab.






Next entry: Into The Arabian West

Previous entry: My Three Dives




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Comments for “Last Day In Paradise”

  • HEY GANG… I’m all caught up, minus the events of yesterday, which is fine according to my schedule (I still have tonight to do it).

    Anyway, greetings from Casablanca, Morocco!  Unlike the Bogart movie, it’s a big modern city with McDonald’s (of course) and movie theaters and plenty of taxi cabs…  Details to come!

    Hey, check this out:  ELAINE (the jealous one) was planning a trek to Machu Picchu and saw my quote on a website:

    http://www.amazonas-explorer.com/tours/4_level_2/tour_05 (i_trailonly)/index_html?lang=en

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  06/16  at  09:22 PM


  • I’M FINALLY FIRST!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  06/16  at  10:44 PM


  • Cool - Morocco!  I wanna be there!

    Posted by Liz  on  06/17  at  04:13 AM


  • Pillows, lounging, stinky vodka - oh my!

    I haven’t ever done a dive where I had to wade in - but, I’m sure it’ll happen… where did you learn to dive, and was it much better in the Red Sea?
    I can’t wait for Morocco stories!!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  06/17  at  08:31 AM


  • Orange feet? !?! not that I kow but does that taste anything like purple feet? hahaha

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  06/17  at  04:08 PM


  • Team Barracuda:

    Had a great time with you all and wouldn’t trade it for anything. 

    Sheesha’s on the beach, red star, the SHAWL, hissing and kissy noises, Horus humping, left handed throwing off the sand dunes, and of course the felucca ride to ‘Edfu’.

    Sometimes it’s not the places you go, but the people you meet.  This was definitely one of those times.

    Happy travels to all of you wherever you may go.

    Best wishes,
    Love, Ang

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  06/17  at  05:33 PM


  • orange feet?  i’m sure WHEAT would have drank it all anyway….

    seems like The Blog is one big high school year book…

    KIT…hahahha

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  06/17  at  06:16 PM


  • Well I’m happy that your trip to Egypt ended well, great from the sounds of it.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  06/17  at  06:17 PM


  • ANGIE:  Damn, I think I missed the Horus humping!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  06/17  at  10:23 PM


  • NOELLE:  Long story short… ROBIN and DTELLA recommended me a dive shop in New York to get half-certified before our trip to Key Largo…  I read the entire PADI manual at Robin’s suggestion, so I could march into the office and just take the test (w/o having to pay for classes).  When I got there, I discovered the shop switched to the SSI network, and so I studied the wrong book for the test…  I passed anyway, and did my open water dives out of Key Largo… 

    Since then, I dived the Great Barrier Reef, the Galapagos, that shark dive in South Africa, Zanzibar and now Red Sea!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  06/17  at  10:26 PM


  • Eric,

    Who keeps those pillows clean?  Are they all full of sand and cat hairs?

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  06/22  at  07:12 PM


  • WARREN - who needs clean in paradise?

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  06/22  at  08:00 PM


  • “I admit it, you’re better than I am.”

    “Then why are you smiling?”

    “Because I know something you don’t know…. I am not left-handed!”

    Cool trim to the Red Sea. Sounds muy tranquilo. But I’m with WARREN, what kinda nasty funk is on those pillows?

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  06/24  at  02:31 AM


  • Team Barracudda

    We miss you all soooo much!!!

    Our travels haven’t been complete since our departure’s….

    Erik, we’ll be sure to send on the pictures of Horus humping!!!

    Safe travels to you all….

    Hope to meet up with you all again in the near future…

    xxx
    Cheryl

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  06/27  at  12:52 PM


  • What chez just said.

    and all i can do to explain the horus humping is this…..

    When you spend weeks surrounded by millions ef egyptians with bad teeth and no manners in 50 plus degree heat even an inanimate stone bird can become an oject of ones affection others will testify the same!
    GO TEAM BARRACUDA!!!!!
    Miss ya all

    Especially the SHAGGERS!!
    Butch

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  06/27  at  01:10 PM


  • TEAM BARRACUDA:  Yeah, I’ve just been informed of the shagadelic behavior of a couple of Barracuda members… 

    “Stop humping the laser…”

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  06/28  at  03:19 AM


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This blog post is one of over 500 travel dispatches from the trip blog, "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World (Or Until Money Runs Out, Whichever Comes First)," originally hosted by BootsnAll.com. It chronicled a trip around the world from October 2003 to March 2005, which encompassed travel through thirty-seven countries in North America, South America, Africa, Europe, and Asia. It was this blog that "started it all," where Erik evolved and honed his style of travel blogging — it starts to come into focus around the time he arrives in Africa.

Praised and recommended by USA Today, RickSteves.com, and readers of BootsnAll and Lonely Planet's Thorn Tree, The Global Trip blog was selected by the editors of PC Magazine for the "Top 100 Sites You Didn't Know You Couldn't Live Without" (in the travel category) in 2005.


Next entry:
Into The Arabian West

Previous entry:
My Three Dives




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