Left the house at 7am for the third weekend running. It's the final day of my open water scuba diving course, and I need to be in Jeddah at eight in the morning. The destination is a private beach on Jeddah's North Cornische.

Last week there was a substantial swell, which meant a fairly hairy entry to the water. This week it's much calmer and easier. Which is good, because we have a bunch of surface skills to do - towing tired divers, removing and replacing weight belts and scuba gear, other stuff. As we head in the direction of down, I find I'm getting better at quieting the part of my brain that's yelling "no, stop, air's that way."

It's much easier than the first dive though, and I'm getting better at remembering to breathe from the regulator. Breathing through my mask tends to be less successful. There's some neutral buoyancy exercises and general fooling around on the bottom, and that's the end of the first dive.

The next dive goes straight down, unattended rather than on a line which feels much less crushed them having five divers holding onto the same piece of string. Once I get to the bottom, I discover I haven't cleaned the anti-fog from my mask very effectively, and my left eye is gradually drowning in bubbles. Happily, it's my most hated exercise next - flooding my mask and clearing it. Much as I dislike it, it solves the problem.

The dive ends with an Emergency Ascent. That's the one where you swim slowly up from about 30 feet, all the time blowing bubbles. No, it doesn't sound like a good idea to me either.

The final dive has one skill (use a compass), and the rest of the time is just arsing about. I practice managing my depth by swooping low over the coral using only the power of breathing. The instructor finds a lionfish in all its glory sitting nonchalantly outside its cave, and mimes getting stung by it and being dead.

By the end of the third dive, it's becoming noticeable that I'm getting the hang of this breathing thing. In about the same time period of time - 40 minutes - I used up 2200 PSI of air on today's first dive and last week's. By the last one I'm using 1500 in the same time.

We agitate to finish the exam and paperwork the same day so we don't have to come back into Jeddah to do it, and by the end of the day I'm a certified open water scuba diver.

(This weekend also marks the end of KAUST's "Winter Enrichment Period", which is a month of not-specifically-course-related lectures and workshops to complement the formal courses as well as offering staff some learning opportunities. My learning for the month besides diving has been a week of Arabic and an introduction to playing the guitar.)

Back to today, and it's time to start playing in Jeddah's Thursday Evening Traffic of Doom. I have the choice of getting a taxi back to Thuwal (10 - 20 pounds) or wait for a shopping bus back. They don't leave until 11pm, so I take the opportunity to while away a few hours at coffee in Ian's hotel.

In conversation with other members of the hotel, we discover that the eye of the higher-ups has turned to getting people on campus. Reportedly, everyone has at least been allocated a place, even if some of them are still awaiting cleaning and fixing. It should be noted that I'm still sharing. I guess I count as on-campus at least.

I allow lots of time to get to the site of the bus, and head out into the TEToD again in a taxi. It takes just as forever as I'm expecting, and the way is powered more by beeping tham petrol. Just as I get onto the bus, there's a minute or so of rain!

One of my busmates reveals himself to work in the watersports group. He reports that the beach and first phase of activities will be ready to go in a week or so. That apparently includes sea-kayaking, snorkelling, maybe wind-surfing. The next phase, which will offer sailing among other things, won't be for a few months.

I finally reach my bed shortly before 1am.

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