Arabic, from what we can tell, is exceptionally expressive. One word we’ve picked up with multiple uses is malesh. Like the many meanings of “forget about it” (or in Donnie Brasco’s vernacular, fuggetaboutit), malesh can mean “too bad,” “I’m so sorry,” “my bad,” or even something ruder like “ask me if I care?” In this case, our past week was malesh as in “too bad.”
There’s a bumper sticker we see sometimes in the U.S. that says “A bad day diving is better than a good day at work.” It’s not true. I’d rather have a good day at work than the dive trip we went on during the 3rd week in April. It was a disappointment, and not the farewell to the Red Sea that we had hoped to have. As they say here, malesh.
After a flight to Hurghada and a 3.5 hour bumpy crowded ride from there to Marsa Alam in southern Egypt, we boarded the M.V. Emperor Elite, a liveaboard dive boat, and moved into our stateroom.
|M.V. Emperor Elite (internet photo)|
The boat was reasonably comfortable, and the other divers an interesting and surprising mix, representing South Africa, Switzerland, Poland, Russia, the U.K., and us. The common language was English, excepting one diver who seemed to be a monoglot Russian. The two dive guides were excellent, Daniela (from Venezuela) and her husband Cseba (from Hungary). Our itinerary took us from Marsa Gahlib south to the Saint Johns reefs, just north of the Sudanese border. Why, you might ask, was this trip disappointing?
|Southern Egyptian Red Sea dive sites (internet photo)|
|Our fellow divers and the hard-working staff of M.V. Emperor Elite|
Blame it on the weather and the food. Egypt, like Europe, had had a very cold winter, and the waters of the Red Sea were far colder than normal—from 71-74 degrees F—exceeding the ability of 14 mm of neoprene to keep us warm enough. Being cold underwater is a form of torture for us, and being cold when visibility was low was even worse. Every dive was a challenge even when rewarded with the occasional manta ray or shark. Out of 21 possible dives, we could only manage 13. Again, malesh. What can anyone do about the weather? If you can, let me know!The food on the boat was quite poor, bland and over-cooked. Most liveaboards don’t have great food but this was particularly bland. Again, malesh. At least we didn’t return having gained weight.
But we did enjoy wine with dinner and socializing with the United Nations of divers. And we made friends, particularly with a couple from South Africa, Celeste and Rocco, and have an invitation to visit their farm there!
|Cocktails on the upper deck|
There were even some special sightings on this trip: a pod of dolphins that hung around the boat a while; a view of a manatee or dugong from the surface; and several shark and manta ray sightings.
|Two views of sportive dolphins|
Since this is our last dive trip on the Red Sea, we were sorry it didn’t leave us with the kind of dazzling memories that the Maldives did. Returning home, we found that there had been another sandstorm, so the porches and clotheslines were covered with dust. It’s now beautiful spring weather, and we have retired all warm clothing. I resume teaching, and Harris gives a big talk on Monday on rock and roll, gender, and the economy of dating. I’m starting to make inventories of stuff in preparation for leaving, preparing my talk for Fulbright and final report, and generally feeling melancholy about rolling things up. It’s been a very eventful time here, and the coming bruhaha about the elections and constitution promise more drama for Egypt.