Trip to the islands

On Saturday we went on a trip to the islands off Tripoli. I was a little aprehensive of being stuck on an island but I have to say, it was great. We were supposed to head off early in the morning, but 10 o’clock turned into 11, which turned into 12 and we finaly left the house at about 12:30. On the way though, Said (Maissa’s brother) decided to get a trim and assured us it would only take 5 minutes. Just as he was getting out of the car, he asked me if I wanted a trim too and I thought “why the hell not?” so we both jumped out and ran into the barbers shop.

Little did I know that Said was getting the full works haircut and he ordered the same for me. Also, the chief hair cutter was a perfectionist and wanted to measure the length of each hair with his verneer calipers, and compare the length to a chart, and make sure it met the ISO standard. I mean, it was an OK haircut, but he took so long on Said, and then, once Said was done, he took probably longer on my hair.

We finaly left, once Maissa and everyone was thoroughly pissed off, with our shiny new haircuts (which I was hiding under my hat for fear of being lynched by the rest of the gang once we got to the boat) and headed off to the boat.

The boat turned out to be a simple wooden boat, with a tiller and a crude sort of long screw thread as a throttle control. the guy in charge of the boat would have been about 20, tanned till he was almost black, and just wearing his shorts. By this time everyone had assembled and there was about 12 adults and 10 kids. We all piled into the boat with all our stuff and we were off. The sun was beating down on us but the cool breeze off the sea was delicious.

I was amazed by the colour of the water. The deepest blue I have ever seen in parts, followed by the most beatiful aqua green in the shallower parts, there was virtually no waves and it very pleasant cruising over the water to the islands. There is about 5 islands off the coast of Tripoli, we were heading to the 4th, Palm island. I’m not quite sure why its called Palm island as there are no palms on it, but it has a nice beach where we moored the boat and unloaded. The water was so warm, I didn’t know the Mediterranian was so warm but it was so nice just to sit in the water and chat with the other guys. The kids by this stage were just about at boiling point and were running and jumping all over the place, particularly off the boat that brought us out to the island.

We had lunch and then some of us headed off on the boat to explore the fifth island. That island is called Rankin or Shark Island because apparantly there are lots of little sharks around there. This island was very rocky and looks as though it would be a great place to go snorkelling. We headed around the island on the boat and came accross a grotto where people were diving off a rock into the water. Mustafa (the guy in charge of the boat) dropped anchor at a point that I thought was too close to the rocks and sure enough within a few minutes he decided to move the anchor. When he tried to pull the anchor up, it became stuck on something, and all the while, were getting washed closer and closer to the rocks. He quickly put his snorkeling gear on and dived into the water to free the anchor, shot back on deck and we were free within about 60 seconds. He was so at home on the boat and in the water, I felt like he must have been born on the boat and had never set foot on land.

After that we headed back to the island, picked up the others and headed home. It was a really spectacular day and I’m hoping to get out there again to do some snorkelling.

He took his role of managing all these crazy people jumping in and out of the boat very seriously… [rest of post was truncated due to crap net access in Lebanon]

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