View Full Version : Wow What a ride it's been Finale

09-03-2007, 22:08
Felix is all set to level Roatan, while I write the final installment to the Saudi adventure. I wonder if one of the places I’ve yet to visit will still be there this time tomorrow.

Anyway back at my hotel room I was doing like every single scuba diver has done at least once. I was in front of the mirror all decked out in my newly purchased and rented scuba gear. OH come on admit it, I bet even some of you have stuck dive gear in the bath tub even, I know I have.

It was a week later when we went on our OW check out dives, and what a weird sight we must have been. It was rather windy at Half Moon bay, but this time we were prepared. I must have looked like some deranged Lawrence of Arabia standing on the shore in dive gear and an Arabic head scarf wrapped around my face to keep the sand out of my mouth and nose. It was blessed relief getting into the water to get out of the blowing sand.

It was during our open water checkout dive I got totally hooked. I SAW A FISH!!! A real live fish! It was right there. The OW checkout dive was over far too quickly and exiting the water into a maelstrom of blowing sand is not something I recommend. In no time at all we resembled bizarre moving sand sculptures as every grain of sand in the middle east seemed to be sticking to us. Now that we were bona fide open water divers, with shiny new C cards we made planes for a dive the next week end. But the next day Steve held a BBQ to celebrate.

This was an event that had to be seen, John and Steve got a half a cow. That’s right ½ of an entire cow. We strung it onto a 2 inch steel pipe and it roasted over two halves of a 55 gallon drum. John and I were sent to pick up Sid. which was over at the Aussie compound. Which? Not Who? (More W words) Now while you may find it a bit rude to refer to a person as an IT, I must clarify that Sid was an it, not a who. Sid was the name given to the local moonshine. This is in an effort to confuse any Saudi moral police that may get wind of it. So in casual conversation it would be “Who’s picking up Sid?”
Anyway John and I go over to this house and in a clandestine maneuver the deal is made. A spoon is produced in which is this clear fluid, the fluid is then lit by a match and burns a happy blue. Money changes hands and a 5 gallon jerry can is handed over. This goes directly into the trunk of the car. On the way back to the BBQ we stop off at the store to pick up Wine, Beer and other beverages. Hold on a moment you say. BEER, WINE? Why then the moonshine? Well all beer and wine are non-alcoholic. You mix Sid with these to add the alcohol content and considering that Sid was about 1 million proof you had better well mix it. Well let me say that the cow was delicious, and with Sid on hand it was a good time had by all.

Fast forward to the morning of our first open water dive as freshly certified OW divers. We had made arrangements for a boat dive off of AL Jubail. We met the boat at the Holiday Inn and after an hours ride arrived at the dive site. The guide told us that directly under the boat the depth was 102 feet but 20 yards off to the side the bottom came up to about 25 feet from the surface. So we planned to descend to 60 feet and then follow the wall up to the shallower depth where we would spend the majority of our dive.

So Steve, John and I entered the water. We swam out a bit and descended. John and I stopped and became neutral at 65 feet and started looking for Steve. He was nowhere to be seen. After looking around a bit, I looked up and saw Steve coming down. I got John’s attention and we watched Steve descend. Here he comes, he’s coming. It started to dawn on me that he was approaching a bit faster than would seem normal. John and I watched as Steve got to our depth and with a big smile on his face just kept right on going. We hung there for a moment and I looked at John, he looked at me, we both looked down and back at each other again. I took my UW slate and scribbled “OK who’s gonna go down after him?” John Volunteered to get Steve, and after a few minutes he came back with Steve in tow. Later Steve would say that he just wanted to see what it was like down there, but his unannounced deep dive killed our dive profiles pretty much.

What little time we had left was spent in a shallow coral outcrop at 25 feet in water that was so clear you could not see it. The effect was surreal, it seemed the divers were flying in mid air, the Vis must have been greater than 100 ft easy. And while it was a small coral patch the colors were blinding and as the first real dive for a newbie who knew no better it was a life altering experience. I was hooked big time and for life. We dove that spot several more times in the coming weeks, but then my time in Saudi had come to an end, and I had to bid farewell to Saudi Arabia and to this telling.

That’s it? You ask? No moral or nuthin? Well no real moral here, but some advice. Try to avoid tall blond gentlemen at Schipol International Airport. Unfortunately like me you may have no choice. So here I am walking from the gate I just arrived at from Saudi to make my connection back to the states. Next thing I know is two tall blond gentlemen come along either side of me and very politely say please come with us. I am whisked off to a little room and after a round of 20 questions and the examination of my passport, I am given the good old “disrobe and spread your cheeks” routine. Thank you very much and have a nice day. I wish to remind everyone this was 15 years before 911.

So I make my way over to the KLM gate where my flight to the US is supposed to depart from. The area is a hive of activity, news crews are going here and there, cameras are recording and flight crews are posing. I look out the window and down below are more camera crews and KLM people. And at the gate sits a brand new 747 400. Seems like KLM had just taken delivery of a fleet of new 747 400’s and this was to be the maiden flight for the airline. And lucky me I was going to be on it. Of course all this media attention ended up delaying the flight for almost 2 hours but finally we were on board and the plane pulled back from the gate. As this was a international flight I was traveling in Business class and was getting served my first beer when the plane started down the taxi way. Everything was going along like normal when all of a sudden there was this huge bang and the entire aircraft shook bad enough for some overheads to pop open and dump a bunch of luggage on the floor.

It got deathly quiet in the cabin. At first it was thought that perhaps one of the tires had a blow out. I had a window seat so I craned my neck and tried to look back under the aircraft, all I could see was the outboard wing tip and the spot under the wing where the outboard engine was suppose to be…………………… SUPPOSED TO BE??????? There was quite a bit of twisted metal dangling hoses and wires but NO ENGINE. To make a long story short this was the first and only plane crash I’d ever been in. See there was one of those big lawn mover type tractors mowing the grass alongside the taxi way and the jets wings over hung the grass, well the outboard left engine hit the tractor with enough force to pretty much rip the engine off the plane. The police were brought on board and the plane was towed back to the gate area where we were dis-embarked, with the police guarding the pilots cabin door the whole time. I remember everyone pointing at the plane as it was towed back. I could imagine how the flight crew felt, just minutes before they were all on TV proudly showing off their new airplane, and shortly they would be on TV again being responsible for wrecking that very same brand new airplane.

So I leave it to you to come up with the moral of the story.

In future post I’ll be highlighting my adventures in.

Hong Kong

And the ever popular Caribbean. All places I lived and worked.

09-03-2007, 23:55
Thanks for sharing your story. I look forward to hearing others.

09-04-2007, 09:28
That's completely nuts, these stories have been a lot of fun though! Ok the plane part was scary, but I hate flying as it is..eee!