A Journey

Basil & Tracy's Travels Abroad

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Swimming with the Fishes – Salt and Sun.

The last week has been spent alternately in the translucent, azure, silent depths of the Red Sea: cool, calm coral gardens, peopled by unimaginably strange and wonderful creatures, and the hot dry windy sundecks of our diveboats.

It is a privilege to be able to observe this other world – to get to know its inhabitants and their habits and, for a short time, to be part of it.

Mathew and Finnian, we have put some pictures here specially for you to look at.

Here is a fish who has waited his turn at a special place to be cleaned by little blue and black ‘arabian cleaner fish’. If you look carefully, and I’m sure you will (click photo to see it bigger), you can see that it opens its gills wide and the cleaner fish actually swim inside them and get rid of any parasites that may be there (they also go inside its mouth, though we didn’t get a photo of that); the fish seem to love this, like a dog when you scratch it behind its ear.

Here is a 'rockskipper blenny' who can live in the open air as well as in the water; this one is very small, about 4cm, and was hiding on a rock, isn’t it well camouflaged?

The next one is a Lionfish. You mustn’t touch it, even though he looks so beautiful, as it can give you a very nasty poisonous sting.

This one is a giant puffer fish (about 80cm long). When frightened it blows itself up like a huge prickly ball with a mouth and little fins and tail sticking out. We didn’t want to frighten it so we didn’t see it happen.

Here are two clown fish (the same as Nemo in the film) they are outside their home which is the bubble sea anemone behind them, they are very brave and territorial, and try to chase you away if you get too close, even though they are only small! (about 8cm).

Most of the time the fish just ignore you, they don’t seem frightened, and some actually come up to look at you! I think they know that they can swim away in a flash if they want to, because divers can only move in slow motion underwater.

A couple of times dolphins came and played alongside our boat – they love swimming in the bow wave (where the front of the boat cuts through the water) when the boat is going fast, and you keep thinking that the boat is going to hit them but it never does – they’re too clever for that! You can see some more pictures of the beautiful world under the sea if you click here

We met up with a really nice couple, Suzanne and Graham, both widely travelled and interesting to talk to. He runs Bite-Back, a shark conservation organisation which concentrates on reducing over-fishing by applying pressure on supermarkets to change their buying policies - a worthy cause in these days of massive over-exploitation of the last wild food resource on the planet. The beautiful and fragile eco-systems of the oceans that we still know so little about but could so easily destroy.

On the last dive we had a minor adventure. Having become separated from the rest of the group, and mindful of the guide’s warning not to go round to the windward side of the reef, we decided to stay on the inside of the reef while we finished our dive. On surfacing, although surrounded by other dive boats, we discovered that our boat was some distance away on the other side of the reef. Basil’s fluorescent flag finally found justification, it was raised and we were soon spotted and safely picked up.

We have had fun and games interfacing with locals: for instance, we went to the local Egyptian takeaway (‘Fast and Slow Food’!) hoping to buy 10 falafels for lunch. What we ended up with were 10 falafel sandwiches – pittas stuffed with salad, tahini and falafels! Luckily they were only 15p each, so it didn’t break the bank, though we wondered what they thought we were going to do with such a lot of food! The next time we went there they were closed, but the proprietor insisted on giving us a gift of some he had put by for himself. This kind of generosity seems commonplace and is very humbling.

We had a minor panic when we discovered that Basil had lost his fleece (hee-hee Edd!), containing wallet and flat key, during the minibus ride to the boat. Luckily it had been safely returned to the dive centre – a timely reminder to keep track of stuff when travelling.

It is very windy today, outside great clouds of fine dust go rolling past, and a fine film of it covers everything, floating hazily in the shady rooms of our apartment. We are making the most of the easy life here, knowing that Monday will see us stepping out into the hustle (and hassle) and heat of the real Egypt with our rucksacks on our backs…

Latest Flickr photo set


  • At 7:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Hi Basil and Tracy...I'm really impressed with your photographic skills, fab photos, brilliant colour, I can almost feel the water, soak up the sunshine and taste the falafel, so glad you're having a tremendous time. The apartment looks excellent, what a lucky break!
    Have a great Christmas, Love from Julia

  • At 4:34 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Goodness me! I have only just discovered this blog of yours - I was wandering why your other blog had no entries for a while. You lucky so-and-sos!! A three month trip. I need some of that too. I may be in NZ but I still have itchy feet. Fabulous pictures too! Keep it up. I shall be checking back regularly to get my fix of travel stories. Happy Xmas to you both!

  • At 6:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Baz and Tracey. Some great shots and even better experiences by the sound of it. I hope you have many more.

    Merry Christmas

    ps Hope the book has come in handy/travelled with you to Egypt!

  • At 12:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Fantastic photos and blog! Happy Christmas, love and best wishes, Sara and Rob


Post a Comment

<< Home