Jesse Haye family in Egypt

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El Gouna 2

        Liesbeth and I first visited Egypt in 1973 and returned many times in the nineties. I first visited the Sinai Desert in January 1993 for diving, soul searching and therapy for my leg. At that time I needed a full leg brace and crutches to get around. Later on in 1993-94, I returned with Liesbeth as consultants to the Ministry of Tourism. We made many new friends in Egypt over the years, and its always great to return there.

    In fact, I just returned "Out of Africa" for my last dives of this millennium on 31 October 1999, in El Gouna, Egypt. Or so I believed. After returning to Belgium and showing the pictures, Liesbeth convinced me to return to Egypt with her. We returned to El Gouna and Hurghada for a two week stay on 21 November, and returned home 3 December 1999.  Most of my time was spent in the classroom and training, since I did my rescue diver course and two more specialties while there. I did my first dive as a PADI Master Scuba Diver at Shab Abu Nugar, on 1 December 1999, the same day a diver died in the El Gouna recompression chamber.

   On the seventh of May, 2000 I returned from Hurghada, for a week of diving with Jennifer and Yehia Safwat. It was great seeing them again. I was the guest of Ahmed, owner of Andreas Hotel and apartments. Adel Dory organized a party shortly after I arrived one night in a beautiful canyon deep in the desert where we partied until sunrise. We also went to Giftun islands Mahmya twice and Yehia and I did several dives in the vicinity and in the meantime, he certified me for two more specialties.

  Inshallah, I will never need to apply the skills I learned, but am physically and mentally prepared to surface an unconscious diver and resuscitate him or her if necessary. I have now about all the Professional Association of Diving Instructors certifications I need including; Open Water, Advanced Open Water, Advanced Plus, Deep, Boat, Night, Wreck, Multilevel, Peak Performance Buoyancy, U/W Photographer, Medic First Aid, Rescue Diver and Master Scuba Diver.

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Mohammed Ali Pasha Mosque on the Citadel in Cairo

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    Traveling in the "Land of Moses" in winter can be very hazardous due to sudden rain and snow storms, but the Sinai desert  is very beautiful this time of the year.

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    The Red Sea and the Gulf of Aquaba have  some of the worlds greatest dives. Probably the best you will find is the underwater marine park "Ras Mohammed" near the town of Sharm El Sheikh in the south Sinai.

    When I first visited Sharm, in January 1993, I met Andrea "GiGi" Ferrari, a world class expert on the Red Sea and renowned underwater photographer. His Book "Mar Rosso" describes the best dives and has lots of maps, photos and other interesting information. As it turned out, GiGi was also the mentor and inspiration for our good friend Yehia Safwat, who has is own dive operation and school in Hurghada. (I will be adding more information later.) It was in Sharm also, that I met Diane McIntosh a PADI Master Scuba Diving Trainer, who later would teach my family Scuba diving in the Bahamas.

    "GiGi" was my dive buddy at Ras Umm Sid, Temple, Yolanda Reef, The Key, Amphora's and Kusba, all in the Red Sea.  I also dove Yolanda Reef and The Key with Diane McIntosh.

    In the Gulf of Aquaba some extraordinary dives are to done at the Canyon, Lighthouse, Canyon Table and the Blue Hole. The latter is known to be a divers grave, and is still, about one hundred fifty dives later, the most incredible dive I have ever made. This is a shore dive, and the approach has to be made on foot. You will need to do some climbing to get to the shore where the dive begins. Upon exit you will see if you look around or if your guide cares to show you, some memorial plaques on the face of the mountain. One in particular springs to mind, and that is the stone of Tarek S. Elkady a Muslim (25 September 1959 - 9 April 1988) and Daniel M. Malk a Christian, (14 may 1960 - 9 April 1988) the inscription reads; "The Deep is peaceful and Dark". The "Blue Hole" claims 3 or 4 divers a year, due to its extraordinary beauty and visibility. It is reported to be more then a 1000 meters deep and is a part of the divide between the African and Eurasian tectonic plates.  Watch out for the "Rapture of the Deep", when diving the Blue Hole! The "Hole" claimed his latest victim, "Timour" mid November 1999!

    On the Hurghada side of the Red Sea, some memorable dives are to found at, Gotatabu Ramada, Magawish Reef, Small Giftun island, Oum Gamar, Carless Reef, and Gran Giftun.

    I recommend the "Red Sea Diver's guide" by Shlomo Cohen, as the best English language guide around, for people diving on their own, from the Sinai peninsula.

All photos below taken in Ras Mohammed and the Gulf of Aquaba. All underwater photography by Jesse Haye with a "Sea&Sea Motor Marine II" camera, using  35mm, wide angle and macro lenses. Other photography with Olympus IS3000 and Canon F1, T70 and IXUS cameras. Photos copyright Jesse Haye.

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