Looking outside today at the rain running down the window pane it is very hard for me to believe that this time last week I was scuba diving in the beautiful crystal clear waters of the Red Sea. My adventure began in the early hours of May 10th. Everyone from The Scuba Trust going to Hurghada was meeting at the check in at 6am. I arrived a little bit bleary eyed and sleepy but I don’t think I was the only one. We encountered a hiccup before the holiday even started when poor Mac had to go home because his passport was out of date. A bit of a sad start to the holiday. We flew through all the security and passport checks and had time for breakfast before we flew. The flight seemed to go on forever and I felt like a child constantly asking are we there yet. After a pretty bumpy landing during which Matt was my hero and allowed me to cling onto him for dear life, we landed. We all drove to the hotel in a big convoy and on arrival we encountered another hiccup. None of our rooms were accessible. Frank was not a happy man. We spent an hour or so in reception waiting for our rooms to be sorted. We were brought cake and biscuits to lift our spirits which as far as I’m concerned is a good solution for any problem.
Rooms finally sorted although slightly inaccessible, we had dinner and went to bed to recharge our batteries in preparation for our first days diving.
Yet another hiccup in the morning as the boat we were diving from was moored at a jetty across the beach. Sand and wheelchairs aren’t a good combination and it took a great amount of effort to get all the wheelchairs across the sand and to the boat. Again Frank sorted the problem and for the rest of the holiday taxis were provided to take us around to the jetty and avoiding the sand. I was starting to think Frank would need another holiday to get over the stresses of this one as so far things had been a little challenging.
With any scuba diving holiday the first dive is always spent checking weights and getting bouncy correct. It was a little more choppy than I had anticipated and my legs proved to be very floaty to say the least, The first day diving seemed to be a day full of learning experiences for me both in and out of the water and I was exhausted by the end of it. I took a day off by the pool the following day just to get myself up together again and recharge my batteries.
Day 3 though I felt ready to conquer anything again and things started to come together and I finally got to feel what it felt like to dive. I was working my way through skills that would give me my PADI Open Water Diver qualification. Ever since I can remember I have always wanted to scuba dive and remember vividly as a child taking my mask and snorkel in the bath and pretending I was swimming with fish in the sea. 40 odd years on here I was doing just that and it was far more amazing than I could have imagined. Everywhere I looked there were fish swimming around me. Some swimming in shoals some on their own and some hiding in amongst the brightly coloured coral. It was a real conscious effort not to gasp “wow” and lose my regulator in the process as the new world I was discovering was so breath taking.
Almost 3 years ago I was lying in a hospital bed with 11 broken bones paralysis from the waist down a punctured lung and pneumonia. I was never going to walk again yet here I was swimming along with the fish with total ease my disability totally out of sight and all the freedom in the world. The world literally was my oyster. I felt at that moment that there was nothing I couldn’t do. I felt invincible. I had forgotten my disability so much that when it came to getting out the water I made my way over to the ladder and was about to climb up it. It was a wonderful way to feel and I couldn’t wait for my next dive.
I passed all my scuba skills and qualified on my fourth dive. Amanda was an amazing instructor and Frank was the best buddy anyone could wish for.
After qualifying I got to dive down to 2 different wrecks and the fish I saw were breathtaking. I only thnk it is since I have been home that the reality of what I have achieved has really sunk in. I have had lots of times since i have been home when I just smile to myself and think about the fact I had actually dived in the Red Sea .
There were quite a few funny moments on our trip too. I learned even as an experienced diver you can make mistakes. I won’t mention any names or how many times but it is really not a good idea to jump into the sea without your fins on !
There was also an episode with a poor little rat who obviously wasn’t a very good swimmer. Someone had found it in the mask container which was full of water and it couldn’t get out. Al was holding the poor little thing up by his tail claiming that he had found him in the leg of his wet suit. Al actually made me laugh on many occasions but he also gave me some real pearls of wisdom and very good advice. On the subject of animals Howard dressed up as a penguin on the last dive and was accompanied by Batman alias Liam. Partners in crime indeed. We also had some lovely evening meals out together and some fun times round the pool.
I came home from Egypt feeling so accomplished and proud of myself having overcome so many challenges in the 7 days we were there and not giving up. I had also made some really lovely new friends who supported and helped me in so many ways making my dream of diving come true. I am looking forward to my next adventure with the scuba trust already although I slept for most of the first week when I got back !! It was one of the best experiences of my life and the exciting thing is my scuba adventure has only just begun.