There are several Expats with experience in diving (or interest in traveling around Jordan on their weekends off). Unfortunately, due to a combination of weekend commitments and upcoming flights, no-one was able to join me on my last weekend traveling around Jordan. Grabbing the bull by the horns, I booked a bus ticket, hotel room and series of dives in Aqaba, and headed south out of Amman on Thursday evening.
Thanks to my remaining travel companions (red wine and Gravol) I had a lovely sleep on the 5 hour trip and woke up refreshed and ready to party. The feeling wore off quickly, but I did have a chance to stroll the streets and experience some of the nightlife in Aqaba late Thursday. I found a great store selling fresh roasted & seasoned cashews, pistachios and a variety of other munchies so I loaded up for the weekend. As usual, I woke up before my alarm the next morning and after a huge “Jordanian Continental Breakfast” at the hotel, I wandered around the neighborhood again. By chance, I stumbled upon the dive shop I had booked with and arranged for two dives with all the equipment and trimmings – 25 JD per dive (ludicrously affordable after $100+US dives in the Caribbean and Mexico).
One bonus of diving in the Gulf of Aqaba is that transport to and from the dive site is by road instead of open skiff. I never have problems with motion sickness WHILE diving, but trips to and from in high chop make me regret (and on occasion, relive) breakfast. This time both dives were off the shore at the same public beach so I could spend my surface interval basking in the sun.
Dive #1 was on the planned wreck (for reef development) of the “Cedar Pride” now covered in a variety of corals and filled with fish. We saw at least a dozen frilly Lion fish and half a dozen eels (two of which were in the open – a very uncommon experience on my previous dives). I was a bit disappointed…well actually, JEALOUS when we came up and heard another group had seen a large Whale Shark swimming near the wreck. We must have missed it by just a few minutes!
We made up for it on the second dive coming across a large sea-turtle which hovered nearby peacefully ignoring us.It is common for surgeons and anesthesiologists to complete shorter missions than other MSF volunteers. Nevertheless, goodbyes were a bit sad for me. It’s always bitter-sweet leaving for home…I know I’ll miss the friends I met in the field, but I do look forward to my friends and (especially) family back home! Getting away from the noise is a benefit too – I probably won’t hear another car horn until the rodeo comes to town for the next Calgary Stampede. Unlike Gaza and Somalia, loud noises here have had innocent causes (mostly fireworks celebrating weddings and birthdays).
I DID get a bit of a flashback walking home on my last day – the contrail might still have been made by an F-16, but at least it wasn’t going to strafe me as I lay soaking up the sun on the roof!I certainly won’t miss the electrical connections, intermittent baseboard heating or maimed children – humans WILL continue being nasty to each other, I’m afraid…Best wishes to my team members, especially the “Self-Professed Serial Monogomist”, the “Vegetarian Hiking Yoga Instructor” and the “Oklahoma Cheerleader”!