I was always fond of fishing. Swimming in the sea was not a great passtime for me though.
Having almost drowned in the Mediterranean Sea as a young boy,together with a cousin of mine, I did not venture far where my feet could not touch the ground! Thiscontinued till I was well in my 30s.
A colleague of mine in Saudi Arabia (Ahmed K.) who was reallyinto snorkeling kept urging me to try it, but I was too apprehensiveto try for the longest of time. He kept saying that if I tried it, I would like it.
Then one day, on the Red Sea coastnorth of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, for a totally unknown reason, I accepted his offer to try his sparediving mask and snorkel. For the first half and hour or so, I stayed in the shallows, fascinated by the fish and corals I am seeing. Then, I started to gain confidence, and ventured over the drop off (where the coral reef drops down by 10 or 15 meters), and I felt like I am in a glider.
In a matter of one hour or so, all the fears havesubsided, and long fascination with the coral reef set in. I was really into it for years.
My colleague was not into spearfishing at all. It was my turn to return the favor and teach him something, as I was learning myself, by reading, and asking people.
I wanted to go further and go into scuba diving. But my brotherdiscouraged me from doing it, although he was a scuba diver himself.His reasons were:
- Scuba diving can be dangerous, and you have to have atrustworthy diving buddy.
- As you go deeper, the view is not asgood anymore, because of the low light, and the absorption of variouscolors by the water. Everything becomes bluish, so snorkelling isbetter.
- I also found that I could not equalize one ear easily, which becomes very painful even when I go a few meters under water.
A Regular Schedule
At one point, I went snorkelling every weekend. Normally,I would go with one or more friends. We would leave by sunrise, and beback before noon, spending some 3 hours or so in the water, and about45 minutes each way some 30 or 40 kilometers south of Jeddah.
Onlyone time I did go alone, because my buddy had his wife in labor thatday. I was scared by a huge fish approaching me. I thought it was ashark at first, but was relieved to see that it was a curious NapoleonWrasse.