Tuesday, July 1, 2008



Ok, the news is already a bit old. I admit I have been a bit sloppy with the blog. Many things to do, a bit of celebration, a lot of bureaucracy, paperwork, and finally a rest day.
Now I’m back on track.

As a first thing, the picture of Guillaume after his dive:

Ops, sorry, that was the wrong one.Here we go:

Sorry, another wrong one.Let me try again:

You can see the dive video here

For the French speakers here you find also updates from Guillaume. If you don’t speak French, than is your business.

As for the various parties following the record, the first one was in a pretty restaurant with apparently very nice food, but nobody remember that due to the big amount of champagne flowing in everybody’s glass.

Actually that has ben the first time for me to drink champagne. I know it sounds difficult to believe, but I could never stand even the smell of wine, so I’ve always been suspicious of every beverage related to it. I have to say I enjoyed the experience very much!

More parties are planned for tonight and tomorrow, but I won’t be there reporting that, since I’ll be travelling to Italy tomorrow to see some friends and family.

Yesterday Lotta and I had a blast in the Decathlon in Cannes. We bought so many things we don’t even know how to carry them out of the hotel.
We bought a huge massive buoy for free immersion which is going to make many people happy, especially Robert the King (even though at this moment he’s in Greece and I’m sure he cannot care less).
We also bought a special sled for variable weight, we’re going to take some funky pics and you’ll see what I’m talking about!

When Francois came to pick us up after our shopping orgy I realized it was the saddest moment of my life. I could see myself back in Dahab, without a Decathlon, without an Ikea, no Carrefour, no shops and sales, no shopping. I don’t know if I want to go back. Maybe somebody here wants to adopt me.

To make me feel better, Francois took us to Antibes, which is a very pretty village on the sea, packed with lots of rich rich people. Our plan was to find a rich (part time) husband for me, so that I could stay here few months a year, and go to Decathlon every day. They even have a coffee machine there.

The plan didn’t work quite the way we hoped, so we came back with no husband, and I’m slowly accepting the fact that I’ll have to leave. But Francois promised he’ll keep looking around.

As for the French habits:

Bread update: it is indeed true that when they buy bread, they carry it in their hands. What I didn’t know is that they roll a napkin around their baguette, so that they don’t make it too dirty with their hands (but they don’t seem to be bothered by poisonous gas spat out from car exhausts, or pigeons falling shit, or whatever other aerial bacteria is infesting the place).
Now, what happens if you buy 2 baguettes is that you have no more hands to carry anything else. And this is when you can have 2 more baguettes under your armpits (this is how you make the aromatic bread, and you don’t even pay extra for it). Guillaume though must have found an Italian baker, because I’ve seen with my eyes that they have a proper paper bag for the bread, like in all other civilized countries (actually also in third world countries like Egypt).

Another very puzzling French habit is this kissing business (nothing to do with the French kiss). So, this is how it works: you go to a place where you don’t know anybody, and you have to kiss on both cheeks every single person is in there. Not only: if you meet the same person several times a day, you’ll have to kiss him/her every time. I find it very stressful and time consuming. What was wrong with the old good handshake? Or with the classic oral greeting? (I don’t mean the other kind of oral!). Ok, it might be useful to break the ice when you meet a potential part time husband, which is not very often anyways.

But this just makes me sadly realize why French Patrick (now living in Dahab but not behaving less frenchly than any other French) was kissing us so much every time we met. It was not because he particularly liked us, as we were convinced of. Strangely enough I never saw him walking around Dahab with baguettes under his armpits!

Now I’d better stop, because I just got a mail from a friend who’s going to visit us in Dahab soon, and said I should stop writing these things when I’m still here in France if I want to leave the country alive :-) (thanks for the advice Daan).

2nd JULY

So, I’m in Nice all by myself, sitting in a Irish pub (don’t ask me why) (the answer is that I saw enough French people today) all by myself. The head judge ditched me for some old Danish friends, and she ordered me to write the blog and answer the mail, so this is what I’m doing, while I drink Baileys trying to forget how miserable I’m feeling now…

The big dive is planned for tomorrow. We’ll meet the staff and Guillaume at the pier, and around 10 we’ll have a new WR (we hope).
Guillaume looked chilled and rested today. Hopefully the sea will still be nice and flat tomorrow.

Yesterday we were out on the boat, trying the safety system, which seems to work quite well. We did many dives, to see how the human counterballast was working. There is no big weight to drop, but people pulling up the rope from the boat. I also did a dive to try, and during my descent I felt like I was gonna freeze. It’s SOOO cold! But it’s kind of funky. I’ll dive some more if there is time. Apparently it does miracles to the blood shift. I think the secret is that it freezes the brain, which in response doesn’t burn any oxygen. My doubt is: will the frozen brain cells get back to normal once back on the surface? Looking at all these Nordic freedivers I know, my answer would be no. Guillaume looks pretty normal though. Maybe he’s just pretending.

Today was a day off for everybody. The head judge and myself went on a shopping mission. A very successful one. Lots of new clothes! The problem is that they don’t fit. We’re eating like pigs here, and bellies and buttocks are growing to enormous dimensions.
I’m trying to burn the calories in excess by swimming along the beach every day, but the risk of
-getting run over by a 100mt ferry,
-or by the kayak national team,
-or to be fished up by the dozens fishermen throwing their fishing rods on my head,
-or to be smashed towards the bottom by the many kids diving down from the big rocks
-or to be shot by the few amateur spearfishers swimming around with their weapon (I think they are not so many because they regularly shoot each other by mistake on a regular basis),
-or the kids throwing rocks from the cliff
is very high. Actually I’m quite surprised I’m still alive.

As for my research about the French people, this is what I found so far.
As for the table cloths: I would say that majority of restaurants use them. I don’t know what people do at home though, I’ll have to investigate a bit more on that.
As for the bidet: they definitely don’t have a clue what they are for. My conclusion is that they just don’t wash.
As for their knowledge of any foreign language: they don’t even know that there is such a thing as a language that is not French. When I try to speak English, or Italian, or even Arabic, they just look at me like I have a terminal form of Alzheimer, and they ignore me. This is also why I’m here at the Irish pub. Unfortunately I don’t understand them because they speak some version of English that is too advanced (or too prehistoric) for me.

1st JULY

Just after finishing our 5th Instructor Course, Freedive Dahab jumped on a plane and started a 30 hours trip towards civilization, in the place of Nice, France.
30 hours! You might wonder, did we swim? No, we flew with Alitalia, which is the most unorganized airline in the world (and we know what we’re talking about, since we flew with Egyptair a lot in the past few years!)

some of the survivors of the instructor course

But apart from that it took long because we had a very pleasant 24 hours stopover in Rome.
So, we checked in into a hotel, put on our miniskirts and high heels and went exploring the town. The high heels turned out not to be the smartest idea, since now our feet are covered in un-fashionable blisters, and even more un-fashionable electric tape. Well, the only excuse I have to justify that is that I didn’t quite realized how much bigger than Dahab Rome is, and that it takes a lot of walking to move from one place to the other.

Anyways, the bright side of it is that we got to see St. Peter’s Square, and the Trevi fountain (and nothing else, because we couldn’t walk anymore!). Also, a recommendation for who is planning to visit St. Peter: do not go there with short miniskirt and micro tops, they won’t let you in! Obviously we weren’t thinking that far!
me at trevi fountain, pretending not to have blister pain

Since the blister accident, the other half of Freedive Dahab (Lotta) is happily sipping red wine at every corner, thus forgetting the pain and discomfort. But I’m not worried, we cleverly bought some vodka at the duty free, and now I’m feeling much better, too!

lotta in st. peter, (when she was still sober!)

We landed in Nice on Sunday, and Julie (Guillaume girlfriend) picked us up and delivered us to a pretty hotel with a fantastic view on the bay.
The reason why we are here is that we are the nominated judges of Guillaume world record attempt in constant weight (-113 mt).

Lotta, being a B judge, is obviously the head judge, which means that she can finally boss me around as she pleases, and I have no right to answer anything else than “yes sir”.
We measured the rope straight away, since Guillaume was planning an official training dive the next day.

So yesterday morning, at 7 am our alarm started screaming, miss head jugde kicked me badly out of bed and ordered me to get her some breakfast (ok, I’m exaggerating a bit here, but I truly do feel treated like a slave).
Some more slaves came to take the rope, which was sleeping with us in our room, and carried it down to the pier (Lotta was nice enough to save me from doing this job, since my neck and back are being very dodgy these last few days)(yes, I know, it’s the age), where Francois (Gautier) was ready with the boat and the set up. Everybody else arrived and got ready, and at 10 Guillaume was ready for his dive.
All went well, except that the bottom camera didn’t record anything because it wasn’t turned on! Luckily it was only a training dive.
Since I’m a very discreet person and judge, details about the dive won’t be reported here.

As for the weather conditions, the atmospheric temp is quite high (30+) and quite humid. Sea is flat and friendly. Visibility is not very impressive though (10+), especially for me, since I ever only dive in the Red Sea. Surface temp is around 23C. What is shocking is how much colder it gets at depth! But I was being very cool about that, pretending I wasn’t really noticing the hibernating temperature drop below 20 mt.
Very surprisingly Lotta wasn’t as cool about it, despite her countless scary tales about dives in 4C Swedish waters.
Was she lying the whole time? Maybe she’s not even Swedish after all! Or she’s just getting old and wimpy.

I’ve decided to use these days to dig into the French culture and see if all these prejudices they teach us Italians in school about French people are true. They tell us they are barbarians.
For example, we are taught that they don’t use a table cloth when they eat (only when I started travelling I found out that Italians are the only population to ever use table cloths). Also, we know they don’t have the bidet (or the water pistol). What do the wash with after they’ve been to the toilet? And apparently when they go and buy bread they don’t use paper or plastic bags and they just carry it in their hands.
I want to know how much of it is true.

For example yesterday I found out that here they make cappuccino with coffee, milk, and chocolate!!! How shocking is that?
I will investigate more and keep you updated with more dodgy French habits.

1 comment:

Smurfie's freediving log said...

Haha I love your post! Keep reporting weird french habits!