Here it comes: after approximately 25 years in The Red Sea, my tour of duty has officially come to an end. I don't really have to elaborate on the details surrounding my decision, most of it is known for whoever has followed the hardships Red Sea tourism professionals have gone through since almost a decade now.
Although I will be leaving with not much more than I originally arrived with in the early 90's I have had a great run, I have successfully developed many companies (some of which now have attained international status due to the basis I set up for them) I have been a Red Sea explorer, I have done projects on my own in remote areas under the harshest conditions known in our business (Sudan, Eritrea) of which I am extremely proud of.
I have been able to continuously develop my skillset, learned further trades; I have known many people high and low I call friends from tribal leaders, royals, celebrities to politicians; not bad for a 'diving instructor' (which I have never proclaimed exclusively to be, it was just one of the skills I have as a professional mariner)
But all 'good things' come to an end, and people who know me better know that I grew up for a while in Curacao, and that it was always clear for me that I would return there. My sister and her family live there, I went to school there, I learned my trades as a mariner there. And I learned from the best and most respected legends of the industry there.
I will definitely miss The Red Sea, I leave two loves here when I leave, one is the Sea, the other is my rebel princess as i like to call her (the woman of my life); so believe me this decision comes extra difficult.
But fact is that as an independent entrepreneur I went through a personal hell of longer than 6 years, actually I have lost everything I worked for three times over, and the toll it has taken on my psyche has been enormous.
The Red Sea is not what it once was, and it' society currently has reached a never before seen toxic level. Everyone is depressed, everyone is near collapse; and there is no end in sight. Those are the simple facts.
As an entrepreneur I have seen hardship, I see it as an inherent part of life, but the hardships my colleagues and I went trough, I would not even wish it to my worst enemies.
The people currently managing The Red Sea communities have no inkling of what they are doing, city-slickers, desk-jockeys who are also not intent on taking advice from us the khawagas.
We are in the age of denial.
The outlook as a tourist destination to receive but an inkling of quality customers in the near or distant future, is as remote as traveling to Mars on a bicycle in my opinion. If I was to compare The Red Sea tourism inventory to a ship, there would be only one name I can think of 'Titanic', and I will not be on it when it rams that iceberg.
I was working on a business development project, and a not for profit environmental one lately here in El Gouna, but dealing with a toxic company structure in The Red Sea for over a year now, and although If I had had more drive, and had really pushed all the buttons at my disposition I could certainly have gotten the projects to a start. I just did not have the heart anymore, this is what they do here currently to even the most idealistic and passionate business developers like me.
The environment, the partners I would have to deal with all but sapped any passion, before I even started; and this passion in my daily life is key to successfully run projects.
I have seen 'my' beloved Red Sea raped over and over and over again, tried to do whatever I can but to no avail...
I actually actively got sabotaged by now known entities here just because I wanted to do something for the environment, a first for me. #thisisegypt2
I don't want to witness the further decay which is coming, because it is coming, it is not a question of if; it's just a question of time.
Although all people living in The Red Sea are dependent on it's health, the current inhabitants and executives have no bond whatsoever with it. I am by now convinced they truly believe people travel to The Red Sea because of their landscaping... how thick can you be?
The Red Sea protection is assured by 9 people who are underpaid, and need to cover an area of more than 900Km. Simply crazy!
Anyway let me stop here, as I could write you book-loads; but fact is we the Khawagas do not have a voice here anymore, and in the current climate dissent is not tolerated.
So what's the plan for me now? liquidate whatever assets i can still liquidate, go visit my parents, my son, my real friends and then as you guessed it - fly to curacao.
What will I do? Well I assume and am ready to start at the bottom of the ladder, and will slowly work my way back up; I love working, I love my job!
I will continue the GOBLU3 initiatives but with sensible people who are aware of their natural resources, I will obviously continue the IADP project for the betterment of the industry; and simply because it is in my nature to criticize and try to rectify what is wrong. So yeah the powers to be can expect me to watch what they are doing very closely, and voice my opinion if they are out of line. Let us at least have 1 staunch active critic in the industry no?
But more important I will heal, redo my commercial captains papers and be at Sea as much as I can, and god knows I have missed the 30 foot or more swells between Curacao and klein Curacao. And the great surfing grounds, the world renowned carnival parades and my Antillean friends.
Re-polish my Papiamentu (creole language of Curacao), and reconnect with all my friends of 25 years ago.
Last but not least re-connect with my sister's family, finally meet my nefew Jack, and my niece Lien which I have never met, and look forward to having fun with Rody and my princess Marion which by now have grown to be teenagers.
And as everyone of us tries to achieve in this life, be the change I want to be, help others and the environment, and finally work constructively at a pension which I was certainly not able to do here under the circumstances.
This move will also ensure I can be there financially for my Son Nicolas, a duty which was impossible to do here anymore either.
I am blessed to have already received some support messages in the last hours from my long lost buddies over there. And will need all the support I can get, because I am now officially a refugee.
Things will go very quick, and I don;t think i'll be able to see or meet everyone before I leave.
Thanks for having been my friends, colleagues, partners.
Anyone reading this, who wants to lend me a helping hand, for once I could do with a push.
I will never forget my time here!
Safe diving - over and out
THEOCEANROAMER aka Henri Hemmerechts