Stories of this Canadian girl's adventures exploring Europe...join me!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

under the sea

Snorkeling Day 1: As the sea water enveloped me, I took a few panicked breaths, then did as great guy said and lowered my be-goggled head into the water. I opened my eyes and saw a whole new world in all the shades of Martha Stewart's paint line; bay leaf and sultana greens, sea glass and araucana teal, ballet slipper pink, persimmon red, cornbread and heath.

Wikipedia Commons
Floating, or more a feeling like flying, we moved our flippered feet softly forwards and backwards, over Red Sea coral reefs more than 6000 years old. It is a frenzy of peaceful activity 'down there'; a silent hive, like New York on mute, with as many citizens per square foot. Architectural wonders like wrecking ball-sized brain coral, tall skyscraper-like pillar corals, huge discus-shaped apartments three or four storeys high of mushroom coral, and garden-like lettuce coral. Not to be missed, the yellow fish, the most common fish in the Red Sea, sped to and fro reminding me of those other common yellow speedsters, but without the honking.

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Schools of zippy zebra fish heading to school; pairs of lovey racoon butterfly fish out for an afternoon date; gangs of plum-sized, jellyfish floating through us - like being attacked by bubbles; scattered needlefish, thin and long, meeting up like seniors on a street corner to discuss the weather; the eccentric town recluse, a pufferfish, hiding from us, but not really; and a lone devil firefish, the government bully everyone steers clear of for good reason, they hurt (in this case more the actions than the words).

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I must admit I did feel a bit like Ariel, all flippered and floating among the sea creatures. I even saw an anemone fish - Nemo's cousin (oh wrong movie). I couldn't help but hum a few bars of "under the sea, under the sea, darling it's better down where it's wetter, take it from me. La lala la...".

Wikipedia Commons
In between these fringing reefs are wide open sandy spaces, a stark contrast like a central park oasis amidst blocks of high-rise activity. The pocked surface is marked only with soft tracks looking like the moon rover had been by. As we pushed our way against the current to get a closer look I noticed a familiar outline in the sand. All of a sudden I was swimming through a National Geographic documentary. I tapped, more like grabbed hold of great guy's leg and pointed downwards as the shovelnosed ray came to life. It shook the sand from it's sail-like wings and glided away, a mere two metres away from us.

Shovelnosed Ray - Wikipedia Commons
Snorkeling Day 2: We anchored at Sha'ab Abu Nuhas, south of the Sinai Mountains at a place also called the "wreck graveyard". Four ships have sunk here, lying dormant in a neat row along the kilometres of reef here. It is a diver's paradise and home to a large variety of marine life who have moved into these 'new' digs.

Carnatic (1869) - Wikipedia Commons
I wasn't prepared for the wave (no pun intended) of sadness that gripped me as I put my head into the water and saw the first behemoth corpse of a ship lying disfigured on its side just three metres below me. It scared me and I fought to be brave and take in this incredible sight. While great guy happy-go-luckily dove and touched, dove and touched.

Ghiannis D (1983) - Wikipedia Commons
The oldest of the wrecks sunk here in 1869 with a load of gold and cotton headed from England to India. Most of the gold was recovered in the weeks afterwards, but 8000 British Pounds still remain a deep sea treasure to be found. Great guy's ears perked right up at that news!

Wikipedia Commons
My favourite of the wrecks, if I had to pick one, would be the "Wreck of the Lentils" - only for it's great name. But if you're needing some free tiles you might want to dive by the "Wreck of the Tiles" which sunk in 1978 carrying an entire load which still lie on board and unclaimed.

As our trip winds to an end, I'm already excited to get home, get my hands on some MS paint swatches, and get to work making some interior design changes. I want to surround myself with all of the soft colours I saw in the reefs...maybe not all in one room. We'll see how great guy handles the changes.

Wikipedia Commons
Footnote: After returning from our first snorkeling trip I checked into the location of Moses' Red Sea crossing. I was quite disappointed to learn that it was far north of our location. But I did feel a spiritual connection as I floated above the fishies...they must have just been kindred spirits.
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2 comments

  1. I was thinking as I read what you echoed in the end - how cool to be in the actual place where so many of those biblical events took place! The Sinai mountains, the red sea; How much more real it must all seem in that place.

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  2. Totally, it's just too bad that the situation there is so unstable. I really wanted to see the Nile and such, but to go during the night with guards freaked me out too much. So, we didn't go to Cairo or anywhere, just played in the peaceful ocean! Next time...

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