Aqaba – Tala Bay

Well I know now why I didn’t go to Aqaba before: Because I would not have been able to focus on my studies. It’s paradise. Even if it’s a very hot paradise, but I was so happy to swim again, and then also snorkel, and scuba and freedive.

Henna and me decided that we deserved a holiday after our Arabic final, so we arranged a JETT bus to go to Aqaba and then searched for hotels. Since Möwenpick was too expensive we decided to stick with “Beduine Moon Village”. When we arrived we realised that we had reached the diving hot spot. I was happy. All four Hotels we had looked (knowing we wanted to dive) at were accumulated side by side. Before dinner we went down to the beach to enjoy the sunset, and jump into the Sea. We still could see a little bit of the reef, which made me really exited for the next day. Then we had dinner in our hotel, being the only guests we enjoyed the quietness of Ramadan. Then we went for a walk back down to the beach. It was really nice, several families sitting together and enjoying the night, knowing that the next day was off. Then we met Hussein, trying to buy ice-cream, since we just had been asked for way too much money at one store, we were a little bit tense. And when he also asked for a high price, I was super annoyed. So he have us a discount, saying that he didn’t want me to think he was asking for too much because we were tourists. So we got to chat a little bit and he offered to take us for a snorkel tour the next morning, to which we happily agreed.

The next morning after breakfast, we tried to book our scuba dive. But everyone was still asleep. So we decided to meet Hussein first and then come back to see if we could arrange a dive. When we reached the beach it was easy to find Hussein and soon we had fins and goggles on and swam above the coral reefs into the Sea. He showed us around and pointed out different corals and fish. And then we saw a turtle. I couldn’t resist and dived down to meet her. It was still a baby – having a length of about 40cm – Hussein said, the really big one was almost 1,5m long. But we didn’t see this one. After about one hour and a half we left the water, to go back and check if we could find a the diving shop open.

So amazing! I can’t believe how lucky I am!

We were lucky and agreed with them to leave after one hour. We used the hour to relax at our pool. And then got ready, putting a wetsuit on and hopping on the car which was about to take us to the rainbow reef. Since it was Henna’s first dive we went through all the instructions – which was good for me to have repeated since I only had done my brevet* last summer and didn’t scuba afterwards. And off we went into the water once more. Our two buddies – guess their names!? Yes, exactly Hussein and Hussein! – checked if we were fine with watering our mask and all. Then my buddy took me out of the reef, and when we turned around Henna and her Buddy had gone. But she seemed super relaxed and to enjoy it. So I just went around with my Buddy playing with some fish, floating around under the water. It was over way too soon.

dive sites in Aqaba

I was happy having scuba dived again. But I was also super eager to go freediving again. I was kind of angry with myself that I had continuously forgotten to check my messages. I had contacted the “Jordan freedivers” group on facebook already in February. They were super nice and very helpful. So when we had decided to finally go to Aqaba I had sent them a message. But I kept on forgetting until the next morning. More about that later.

Back at the hotel we took some time to relax and invited our buddies to coffee. We read and chilled until I was too eager to go snorkeling again. So we went back to the beach. And snorkeled along the bay, starting from the Japanese Gardens, passing by Gorgon 1+2 almost until the tank, we just returned a little bit too early, but it was already getting dark. On our way back we met Hussein again, who was out with a group before and we decided to have dinner with him. So we sat at his stall enjoying the sunset and watching the people passing by. At 10pm we decided to return to our room to get some sleep. Then we realised we still had an open invitation from our scuba Hussein, so we went to meet him and of course had to drink some tea with him, chatting about languages and cultures of people who come to scuba in Aqaba. At 11pm we finally made it to our room and went to bed tiredly after a quick shower.

The next morning, we had to organise our JETT ticket back to Amman, which turned out to be super complicated: Knowing that online reservations don’t guarantee a seat – after Toms experience – we refused to book online, but over the phone it was impossible because they wanted our IDs. So finally we hopped on a car to Aqaba City to buy the tickets at the office directly. Hussein came with us because he really wanted us to buy some raisins, which he said were super healthy. So going with him we also go a quick tour through Aqaba City: after a mission to find the raisins, stopping at a bakery, being handed different kinds of cookies and passing by his parents house – who were all still asleep.

Then we returned and I finally managed to remember to check my messages on facebook where I saw that Abod was at Tala Bay ready to freedive. My heart jumped with joy and after quickly finishing the breakfast and packing, we went down to the beach where I found him immediately. We decided to go to the plane and the tank, while Henna stayed at the beach to relax and read. I realised that I hadn’t trained breathing enough and that I hadn’t gone for proper freedive for more than half a year. Now being with someone I didn’t know at all and who was a PADI certified freediver – a different kind of certificate than I have (Aida**), I got nervous. But I remembered all the breathing techniques and calmed myself down. When we reached the ship I had to calm myself again, the water was so clear and it seemed to be really far away. And then Abod told me to do the first dive. So I started my breathing session. And then duck dive going all the way down to the ship on the first go. It was amazing, I was chuckling with joy – filling my goggles with water. But I cleared them right away. Emerging again, I could feel the relief and happiness of not having forgotten how to dive and being one with the water finally again. We did several dives at the shipwreck and then continued to the tank, which was super easy being down at about 5m. But still a challenge, because I didn’t have any equipment (no good fins, no weight and no wetsuit). Especially being so shallow I could feel the buoyancy. After about one hour we had to leave, so Henna and me would catch our bus.

Then everything went really smooth: We picked Henna up from the beach, said goodbye to Hussein, checked out at our hotel, spent a nice ride with Abod to Aqaba – Thanks for taking us once more. And reached way too early at the JETT office so we could go to the Möwenpick for some ice cream. And then straight into the bus, which brought us back to Amman on time so we could join the iftar of our cohort at Elisa’s and Ihintza’s place.

All in all perfect weekend to celebrate our Arabic final. (More exams to come next week – but first we’ll have off for Eid! =) )

About Eyerish

Photo (c) Stefanie Hueber
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