"It's a gravel road. It's about time we built a real road," says Tawab. "And why is there no ambulance at the Blue Hole? Medical care at the site is ridiculous."
Tawab is also a diver, but he has never been in the Blue Hole. "There's no need," he says, pointing out that it's only a matter of time before Tarek Omar will have to pull out another body.
Omar lives on a small street away from the hustle and bustle of Dahab. In front of his terrace is a rusty bench press he uses to stay in shape. Omar points to a certificate, written in five languages, with which Alexander Lipski thanked him for "the dangerous mission to recover the body of my son."
He brings up the bodies because he wants to help, says Omar. "It isn't about money for me. I don't ask for anything. I just charge the cost of the gas." When asked how he finds bodies in the Blue Hole, he responds: "If I were to hide something in your garden, you would also find it pretty quickly."
First, Omar says, he finds out what kind of equipment the dead diver was using. How thick was the neoprene suit? How much lead was he wearing on his belt? He has to know such details to get an idea of how the body sank. A dead person doesn't fall to the bottom like a rock. He asks the dive buddy where he saw his partner last, and at what depth. Then he and his team notify the tourists, telling them that they are about to recover a body, and that they can stay if they want to, but that they should stay away from anything that comes to the surface.
Then Omar jumps into the water, and as soon as he reaches the spot where the diver must have died, he allows his body to drift, as if he too were dead.
Most bodies lie at depths of between 100 and 120 meters. When Omar finds a dead body, he grabs it in his arms or ties it to his own body. He has five minutes to complete the operation. Then he ascends.
Omar says that constantly looking at the body doesn't bother him. He says that he has seen "Night of the Dead," a horror film, and that it was worse. At 40 meters, once he can see the surface, he sends up the body with an air bag.
Because it takes Omar so long to decompress, he remains underwater for up to three hours during one of his missions. By the time he returns to land, the body has already been removed.
It's about 7 p.m., and the wind has died down at the Blue Hole, where the cafés are now empty. Omar climbs up a cliff. The lights of a city in Saudi Arabia flicker in the distance, and the first stars are shining. From above, the Blue Hole now has a hypnotic appeal, a smudge in the turquoise reef that attracts divers like a magnet.
There are still bones on the floor of the Blue Hole, and the family members want them to stay there. But can Omar imagine finding his final resting place in the Blue Hole, remaining in the depths forever, like the diver in the film "The Big Blue?"
He looks down at the hole. He says nothing for a moment. Then he smiles. "No," he says.
Translated from the German by Christopher Sultan