Saturday, 25 February 2017

Travel Notes: PADI Open Water Diver Course, Aqaba Adventure Divers, Jordan, November 2009

Camping on the roof of Aqaba Adventure Divers, 27th November 2009
The notes below were written during my sabbatical in 2009. I was working with a professor at the Princess Sumaya University for Technology but there was some free time over the Eid break. While in Aqaba, I interviewed some of the local bureaucrats about telecommunications and economic policy. As luck would have it, because it was Eid, Aqaba was completely booked out. Thankfully, Talal at Aqaba Adventure Divers let us camp on the roof. It was cold and wet. 

Hanging out with the dive crew, Red Sea in the background

27th November 2009

We left the apartment the day before Eid started - a hard time to find somewhere to stay! When we asked about accommodation at Aqaba Adventure Divers, everything was fully booked. I asked about camping (many people were camping on the beach nearby) and we were welcome to stay on the rooftop or pitch a tent on the sandy volleyball court out the back of the centre. 

We opted for the rooftop and went to Safeway in Aqaba to purchase a few things such as sleeping bags, tent, camping mattresses, camelbaks etc before moving to the dive centre. That first evening, we started on the course manuals and the video for the open water course. We went hard core on the academic stuff, getting through 3/5 of the material that first day. 
Not-so-good photos under the Red Sea

28th November 2009

The next day we finished off the classroom work and the video. All in all, this took us about 6 hours on the first day and 4 hours on the second. We passed all our tests and headed for the water. 

Typically, the confined water dives are performed in a pool. But at this time of year, the pool was about 10 degrees colder than the Red Sea, so all our diver training was performed just off the beach. The funny thing about diver training at the beach in Aqaba is that, during Eid, the beach is absolutely packed! We were going through our practical tests with kids jumping in on top of us, swimming around in snorkeling gear and doing nothing but staring at us, and generally stinking up the whole experience. 

Gorgone 1 - Aqaba Adventure Divers

After the diving, we were starving. We had tried the poolside cafe food and it was cheap and reasonable, but we felt like something more substantial after diving. We tried the dive centre's restaurant. I had chicken shishkebab and Heba had a whole fish. For a total price of JOD 12, it was pretty good! That night we decided to pitch our 2 person tent on the roof, as the night before was freezing because of the gusty winds. The tent certainly fixed the temperature problem, but the noise of the tent in the wind was enough to drive anyone crazy. Hopefully the wind will die down soon but it doesn't look promising. 

29th November 2009 
First Bay South Reef - Aqaba Adventure DIvers

Our confined water dives were all exercises. In the afternoon, we went on our first open water dive. The detail is in the picture showing the map of Gorgone 1. 

30th November 2009

We have three open water dives left to finish the course, so we opted to do two open water dives today and finish our exercises and tests so tomorrow we can have a 'fun' dive. Our dives were at First Bay South. 

1st December 2009

Black Rock dive, swim test 18 laps of the freezing pool in a wet suit with 2kg attached... and final 50 question multiple choice test. Thrown into pool, Heba fought them off! Getting our log books tomorrow, and tonight we are staying in one of the rooms. There is nobody here now, everyone left yesterday once Eid was over.
Aqaba, Jordan. Where the desert meets the sea.


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