Diving Deep and Letting Go in Egypt

We have lingered in the chambers of the sea
By sea-girls wreathed in seaweed red and brown
Till human voices wake us, and we drown.

“The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,”  T.S. Eliot

It was shark breeding season. On my first dive in the Red Sea off of the Sinai Peninsula near Sharm el Sheik, we watched fifteen 10-foot black-tip male sharks circle one black-tip female. She seemed to ignore them and go about her business, which appeared to be the shark equivalent of running errands–poking in and out of crevices. Being a single female from San Francisco, I was amazed at the sight of fifteen males devoting their total attention to one female.

I was giving myself this Christmas/winter solstice gift of two weeks’ rest and diving aboard the Lady Jenny IV, an English owned and operated dive boat. It was part of a month-long trip to Egypt, a break from an unusually icy winter in Paris where I was living the ex-patriot American life and teaching.

Relaxing on the deck between dives, I was lulled by the Sinai, the islands of the Red Sea, the sea itself. Most predominant was the simplicity of the colors. In the near and far distance was the land–barren, gradations of camel tan from the palest off-white cream to a darker caramel-colored cafe-au-lait. Yet this same land seen from a distance becomes layered with grey-blue haze. All resembles the straight and curved lines of Arabic script. One saying goes that Arabic is so difficult to interpret that out of three people, one will say its meaning is one thing, another person interprets the same serpentine scrawl differently, and a third will say it is only the picture of the humps on a camel’s back. ………