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Published: November 9th 2009
Gulf of Aqaba
Michael & Heba: Where the desert meets the sea
How we got to Aqaba
We arrived in Aqaba for the first time on the evening of Thursday 5 November after a 3 1/2 hour drive from Amman. We had borrowed a car so we only had until the Saturday to visit, and we stayed with a friend who works as a flight instructor. On the first night, we visited a tourist complex with a bunch of different restaurants. We sat in an 'English' pub while we waited for our friend.
The next day, we went for a PADI discovery dive at Adventure Divers next to the Bedouin Moon Hostel down towards Aqaba's South Coast. The dive was amazing. We were driven down to the beach from the dive centre in an old minivan. Because it was Friday, most of the locals were having barbecues on the beach. The beach was not the greatest, it was more like a continuation of the desert. Nevertheless, the reef starts from the edge of the water.
We had a dive instructor each, one local man and a woman who had moved here from the UK and never went back. The dive started with a practice run through the drills using the
regulator and the underwater signals and then it was on. The focus of the dive was an old military tank about 50 metres from the beach.
On the way to the tank, the first thing I encountered was a seahorse but it looked more like a snake with a seahorse's head. The guide picked it up and handed it to me. The tank was pretty cool and there was plenty of sea life. The coral was not bleached like most of the reefs around Green Island (off Cairns) are now.
The best part of the dive for me was in the deeper water. As we were diving, a boat was circling over head (we were in about five metres of water). Later, the guide said that people in boats often do that to have a peek at us. The worst thing was that the guides kept a tight rein on us and I really wanted to go off by myself. But my sense of direction wasn't too good, so maybe next time when we do the PADI Open Water certificate course in a few weeks' time.
After the dive, we chilled out for a while and then
went to an Arabic restaurant in downtown Aqaba, having the usual Arabic barbecue or 'mashawi' (which is my favourite). The next morning we returned to Amman, packed up our things and moved back to Aqaba. We caught the 'Trust' bus back, but had to wait for 2 1/2 hours in a 'San Francisco Cafe' (an American chain) next to the bus terminal. While we waited, I purchased a Nokia mobile phone for JOD 20 so we could use the SIM card we already had.
Once we got back to Aqaba, we started to settle in to the apartment. We went downtown to buy a rice cooker (an Emjoui for JOD 27) so we can do a vindaloo for our friend, found a proper Italian coffee pot so we could have real coffee, and a few other bits and pieces to make life comfortable.
Looks like we will be staying in Aqaba for a while!
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