I left Sharm el Sheikh the moment I could, approximately 15 minutes after bidding a rushed farewell to my parents and sister in the lobby of the opulent Hyatt Regency perched on the cliffs of the Red Sea. Dahab was variously quoted as an hour, four hours, or 8 hours from Sharm. Also, interestingly enough, I was quoted transportation costs between 836 Egyption pounds (approx $150) and 11 Egpt pounds (approx $2) Finally, settling on the $2 option the travel agent representative shepherding my parents (and myself) warned of impossible delays if I took the bus and looking me straight in the eye told me the roads simply were not paved “up there.” Fearfully pressing money into my hands and casting furtive glances to the heavens my parents rushed off to catch their plane.  

Mohammed arrived some moments later. Some moments after that (a hair less than 40 minutes) I arrived in Dahab at the Penguin Camp.

Having long-harbored a natural affinity for penguins which I have emulated in my gait, my lifestyle, and my morphological maturation I found the Penguin Camp to be the natural choice for where to spend my next 10 days in Dahab. Days 1 and 2 at Penguin were spent doing shore dives in the beautiful Red Sea. Amazing coral life, impressive fish diversity and relatively warm waters (it beat the hell out of doing night dives in California in the dead of winter – but only by about 10 degrees Fahrenheit).

Day 3 was a rest and read day. I wandered around town, got to know the feral cat population. Shared a cushion with a gimp dog and dug my heels in for a sustained bout of reading. Topic of choice was a formidable tome on the last 50 years of African history. Which, despite popular opinion, is about as frustrating a story as one could imagine.

That night I joined a hodgepodge of groups to form that Saturday’s diving contingent to Ras Mohammed and the SS. Thistlegorm, the crown jewels of a Red Sea diving experience. Leaving Dahab at 11am our motley crew was comprised of a group of affable Koreans, a disgruntled band of Germans, an intoxicated group of Japanese, a Brit, and a Spaniard tossed in for good measure. After an hour’s drive we arrived on the boat and instructed to sleep. I had the good luck of unknowingly stealing the first mate’s cabin.

After an hour of sleep he attempted to crawl into the bunk with me and I, after steadfastly refuting his amorous advances, banished him from the room in a somnolent daze.