Friday, 2 July 2010

Muriel and Wilma's Easy Divers - We Salute You!

FathiBob, Nicola and Staff on Princess HendEasy Divers' Dive Centre at Three Corners Amal Village HotelParty!You can see Muriel in the white shirt (2nd right)  Wilma on top form (on safari)!Nigel (Mr.H) in his HEPCA gearThe 1999 Easy Diver Crew (Muriel is sitting down 3rd in from the right. Wilma is laughing 2nd in from left on "middle" row)

I don't really know what to say. It's come as a complete shock.

We heard the news yesterday. One of our diving colleagues - Muriel Coenen died in her sleep a few days ago. We received the invitation to her funeral today and it was then that I realised that she was born two weeks after me. Sadly we might not get to her funeral. So I would like to honour her here and her friend, Wilma, and in a way, thinking about it, our precious Easy Divers Family.

Muriel was a good dive instructor and a very lovely person. Very open and friendly. Always laughing. My husband, Nigel, did some of my scuba training as I'm a BSAC  (British Sub Aqua Club) trained diver to Sports Diver Level whereas Muriel was a PADI (American System) trained diver. She did some of my training too. In fact she may have even saved my life when one dive went a tad wrong. (I ended up in a decompression chamber for my troubles.) In the event I was fine and it certainly wasn't her fault that the dive went a bit skewwhiff. The main thing was that she handled the whole event like a trouper and she went out of her way to check that I was OK (for days afterwards)...

She leaves a husband, Hamada and two little girls - Noura and Marwa.

I've also mentioned Wilma in the photos above. Yes..she too, very sadly, passed away a year or so ago. She left a husband and a little boy. She was great fun, bubbly, wonderful, amazing too. Very athletic - a good instructor and diver.

Both girls (I cannot think of them otherwise) came from Holland. They are both from the Eindhoven area, I believe. They had both moved back to the Netherlands some years ago to start families.

We all had the time of our lives at Easy Divers.

My husband, Nigel, decided to convert his hobby into a full time career and ended up running a scuba diving centre in Hurghada, Egypt, called Easy Divers from the early 1990s through until 2003 and beyond. It largely attracted divers from Holland but many more came from Germany, Belgium, the UK, Switzerland, some from France, Italy and Spain and lots from Scandinavian countries. We even opened up another dive centre in Safaga and franchised a centre in El Gouna (both a short distance from Hurghada in either direction).

When the Luxor shooting happened in November 1997 a lot of dive centres decided to close their doors but Nigel rather stubbornly stayed put and kept the Easy Divers' doors open. The centre flourished and the tourists and divers just kept coming.

I've blogged about this before (see side panel for those blog entries)... I met him ten years ago when we met through our London dive club called Clidive at the London Dive Show. I didn't pay much attention to him then but certainly did when he took me for my first dive in the wonderful waters of The Red Sea.  It was blissful. That week can be summed up in these words: heat, turquoise, mask squeeze, black eyes, boat, yummy boat food, dive after dive after dive, very clear water, seeing multicoloured fish and other strange creatures, bubbles, managing our air consumption, looking at our consoles, watches, computers, Luxor, exotic Egypt, hearing Arabic spoken for the first time, meeting the compressor team and staff, getting logbooks stamped, laughter, jokes, figuring out our equipment, trying not to get run over by Egyptian drivers, dust, hotel, air conditioning, minibuses, transfers to the harbour, hearing Egyptian music for the first time, sharing my hotel room with Jo, gossip, hearing the call to prayer at dawn....

...in short...a very different life to the one I lead now and the one I had at the beginning of 2000. I was in banking then. Stuck up on the 49th floor of Canary Wharf dreading a fire alarm ever taking place. So instead of running off to the circus I ran off to an Egyptian Dive Centre....(I didn't need much persuading!)....

...and met all these marvellous, gorgeous, great people. Folk from all walks of life - having fun, living life to the full, not caring too much about the tomorrow or the day after that....it really was a "carpe diem"  lifestyle....

So I dedicate this blog entry to all those at Easy Divers: past and present...to the divers who became our friends, to the staff from all those different countries (who became our good friends).  To Mr. Lotfi, who was the owner of the Staff House, to the mini bus drivers, to the chaps at the harbour, to the taxi drivers, to the guys with the food stalls, to the folk in the different hotels, shops, restaurants and bars. To everyone we knew in Hurghada...we do miss you we really do...but we'll never ever forget you.

You (and our memories of you) will stay in our hearts and heads forever more.

8 comments:

Mark said...

How sad it is when friends pass away, whatever the reason.

I lost too many friends to climbing and kayaking, but somehow their deaths were understandable - I guess it was always a possibility - and certainly more so than the colleague of my wife's who died in her sleep.

Lovely dedication to your friends and to a life (lifestyle too) that has passed but is not forgotten

Ladybird World Mother said...

Oh, Hadriana... how sad. You have written so beautifully about them all, and your introduction to diving... I send a huge hug and lot of love. xxx

Hadriana's Treasures said...

Yes, Mark, it is always shocking when friends die (especially so young). Not too many people we knew died diving (very thankfully). We had lucky escapes if we did anything silly...at least I did.

I/we remember those days extremely fondly and we remember all our friends too. It shows that all religions and races can get on together.

Thank you, LWM. In a way it all feels like a dream because we had such a good time. But then, a famous playwright did say...life is a dream....

Strawberry Jam Anne said...

Hadriana - I am so sorry you have had such sad news of your friend. Your post is a lovely tribute to both Muriel and Wilma. A x

Expat mum said...

Aw pet. I'm so sorry. How tragic that both of those lovely girls have gone.

Hadriana's Treasures said...

SJA and Expatmum...it's almost impossible to put into words...the loss of two young women and the loss of that whole world.

Funnily enough I'm just re-reading "Brideshead Revisited"...which might seem wildly non-related but Evelyn Waugh and F. Scott Fitzgerald did in "The Great Gatsby". Fantastically written novels about lost worlds, lost innocence, lost friends...

Thank you for popping by to say those very kind words...

Mike Baily said...

Hi Hadriana, sad tale about some old mutual friends - Fahti taught me to dive. Haven't been in Hurghada in over a year but hopefully back soon. Regards to Mr Jarvis....

Hadriana's Treasures said...

Hi Mike and Tish!

Thank you so much for leaving a comment. Sorry that I am late in replying...we've been away in Dorset and I'm just getting to grips with things.

Yes...we do miss Easy Divers - all of them. Fathi is such a super character. I'm hoping that I'll get a chance to write more about Easy Divers and the bloomin' marvellous times we had out there...

Lovely to hear from you...hope all is well with you chaps!