Diving the Red Sea, and Tisha B’Av

20 07 2010

I got the dive in today* and saw some wonderful underwater life. The visibility in the Red Sea is beyond amazing – around 100 feet. Compare that to 25 to 30 feet in the DR. I played hide and seek with an surprinsingly engaged octopus and swam with masses of impressive fish, large and small. I already told Amy that she has to dive the Red Sea.

Our morning started with a spectacular ealy hike in the desert mountains outside of Eilat, a humbling experience made even more awesome by the realization that it’s just a taste of what we’ll be seeing and hiking in the coming months. We ended the day in the desert (surprise!), hiking to and over monsterous structures in the middle of nowhere. The silence of the desert is a great experience that everyone should have.

[Note: Jewish stuff coming.] We had an incredible Tisha B’av program tonight. I didn’t really have anything planned and didn’t like the sample program our trip provider gave us, so I substituted a suggested Shabbat program about God, which has the teens interview each other about their beliefs. I quieted the group down and told them that I wanted to have a discussion about religion and the significance of the day – without focusing on anything too depressing, but before I even finished explaining the program one teen asked if it could just be a discussion led by them. A bit skeptical, I agreed. It took a few minutes for them to hash out the ground rules for the discussion, but they just finished two hours of honest talk about God, prayer, free will, Judaism, community, and how the trip changed their view of Judaism. (There were some great answers about Jewish pride. At least two teens spoke of secretly loving their Jewishness but having to hide their pride from friends, and about their looking forward to going home proud and ‘out’.) I’m impressed.

Separately, I’m pretty sure you can figure out what brand of sandals I’ve been wearing just from my sandal tan. I’d love to be able to tone down the contrast setting on my feet!
 
*Whether or not the dive would happen was very up in the air. We’re staying at a kibbutz in Nowhereland, Negev Desert, and yesterday late night a few kids were sick to the point where we nearly called a taxi from Eilat (an hour and a half away) to take them to the hospital. We ended up making a doctor’s appointment for the morning, conflicting with the dive I was hoping to do. At the last minute it ended up that we didn’t need the appointment, but that I needed to stay with the teens for snorkeling. I joined them in snorkeling, which was surprisingly fun, and then rushed them like never before to try and hit the dive shop by 1:30pm for a 2pm dive. (They had no clue what the big deal was. As far as they knew I was just itching to get to lunch.)
 
So I get to the dive shop and… the 2pm dive is to the reef I just snorkeled! A private dive where I could choose my site and have my own guide was only $10 more, so I quickly took the shop up on it – no-brainer. Things worked out perfectly in the end, as another diver also didn’t want to do the scheduled site. In the end we went together with a guide to a site of our choosing at the original group price! Side note: breathing underwater is still a thrill.
 
posted by jayhorowitz
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