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Can you kiss underwater?

Many people have asked me why I chose Kuwait for an overseas teaching experience. My master’s degree was in International Relations with a focus on Africa and the Middle East, so I wanted to see if what I had learned in the books was really true “on the ground”. Also, I knew from dive experiences in the Caribbean and Australia that the Red Sea, between Eastern Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, was a coveted area for divers. On two separate trips, I spent a week in Dahab at the southern tip of the Sinai Peninsula and a week on a live-aboard dive boat.

The journey to the dive boat made me think twice about my decision. The Arab Spring was in full swing and specifically the 2013 Egyptian coup d’etat had just occurred, so I wasn’t sure if it was safe to fly through Cairo on my way to Hurghada. My flight and dive boat had not been canceled, so I decided to go, not knowing what to expect at the airport. I figured it would be very quiet or bustling with security. It was the former, so much so it was a bit eerie. Once I got to my concourse for domestic flights, there were only a few scheduled flights still going, including mine, with only one other guy sitting at the gate. The flight was fine and the week on the live-a-board was fantastic. The boat was full of far more experienced

divers than I, most from England, so I decided getting my advanced open water certification was a good idea. I was the butt of many jokes as I made several stupid mistakes, including having to make four attempts at a navigation dive. I’m like Disney’s Dory underwater, attracted to all things bright and shiny, so I quickly lose my sense of direction.

The journey to Dahab was also interesting as I was the only one in the van from the airport to the Dahab Paradise Resort. When we got to the main checkpoint, the driver motioned for me to pull my scarf over my hair and give him my passport. Having faith in humanity and the Dahab “paradise resort”, I did as I was told. It turned out to be a lovely hotel with one of my favorite phrases “Live well, laugh often, love much” created from flowers on the lawn. They also made animals out of your towels, like on a cruise boat and helped me book a day trip to Petra.

There were many diving firsts for me here - riding in the back of an open bed truck to the beach full of people riding camels, our between dive refreshments being mint tea served in an Arabic tea set, and kissing underwater. The dive guide turned out to be a hottie. After a few days of flirting, on a dive through a coral garden, he swam over to me, took his regulator out of his mouth, motioned for me to do the same. “What? That is not a good idea while diving!” I thought. Then I realized he wanted a kiss. Kind of fun underwater I have to say and in keeping with "love much" or at least "lust much". The rest of that story with Omar, well, that's for another day.

So I learned on these trips to look past the shaky beginnings to the possibilities of learning and adventure that await once I’ve arrived. In our daily lives we plan for grocery shopping and gassing up the car, but when traveling you can’t plan for empty airports, being called Dory, or underwater kisses. You can only trust that adventure awaits!

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