I spent the Eid vacation between Hurghada and Marsa Alam. It was my first vacation since the January revolution broke out, and was badly needed. It was strange though being in the south without Ismail Marzouk. He’s been on my mind a lot.
You can find some of the pictures I took during the trip here on this flickr set…
Ismail Marzouk, one of Egypt’s leading technical diving instructors, has died today in Daedalus, during a wreck dive. He was 33. His body was never recovered.
As a young Cairo law student, Ismail was active with the socialist movement, before moving to the Red Sea where he worked in eco-tourism, learned diving and quickly became one of the most prominent IANTD instructors in the Red Sea. I spent weeks with Ismail last winter in Hurghada, where he introduced me to technical diving. His hospitality, sense of humor were unmatched. His home in Hurghada, I felt, was mine too thanks to his warm fraternal personality. Ismail, who passionately supported the revolution, has also been active in the ongoing efforts to unionize Egypt’s divers.
He is survived by his wife, Jude, and baby daughter, Aisha. He will be terribly missed by his family and friends. Rest in peace, Ismail.
A young Upper Egyptian police captain who hitchhiked a ride with me in Hurghada:
“I miss working for Al-Amn Al-Markazi (Central Security Forces). It was a lot of money… much better than being thrown out here at the Red Sea… Each time we went to a protest, be it the press syndicate, or downtown (Cairo), we the officers used to receive LE900 bonus. We used to get it even before we left the camp to go the protest scene. If we went to secure the president’s convoy somewhere we used to get LE600. [Chuckling] Our president is a miser… When Obama came, we got LE900 on the day of his visit. When we used to go to secure the stadium in any match we used to get bonuses too. One month I made up to LE7000, between protests and football matches.
“I don’t like the (interior) minister (Habib el-Adly). We all wanted him to go a long time ago. We were hoping he’ll be fired after that church explosion, but unfortunately he wasn’t. And he wasn’t fired after any of the previous terror strikes. Why? He has those on top secure and happy. He doesn’t care about us.
“I wouldn’t like and didn’t want to work for State Security. My father, a police officer, worked there for five years and then he left them (State Security Police). They torture people and do things I wouldn’t like to do. They are under pressure, always under pressure. If something happens in the area you are responsible for, you have 72 hours to get whoever did it. You have to, or else you’ll get banished to some place like Shalateen or you’ll get hurt somehow. So you go and torture anyone to say ‘I did it.’ I don’t want to do that. I prefer working for Central Security Forces.
“During the elections we received instructions to let in informers into poll stations, and each had in his jacket 50 or 60 electoral voting cards. There is no democracy in this country. But it is a catastrophe if the Muslim Brothers or any of the Gamaat take power. We have to do this.”
Stormy weather in the sea today, while the streets of Hurghada are swimming in sewage, following a day of rain showers.
I planned and performed a 39 meter decompression dive today at Abu Ramada, with bottom time 25 minutes. This was my last dive, for the IANTD Advanced Nitrox course, and I got certified as a technical diver.
I want to thank my instructor Ismail Marzouk for opening a new horizon for me.