The Dolphin Boy
by Ruth Corner
In a small Bedouin village in a remote part of the Sinai coast on the Red Sea there is a truly remarkable story taking place. Since 1992 a friendly wild dolphin has lived in a bay by the village of Mezina. She has a special friend - a 14 year old boy who has grown up with her as his playmate, swimming in the warm clear waters every day of his life, with this large, beautiful gentle creature by his side.
The story began when Fallah was just five years old. The dolphin followed a fishing boat home one day, made friends with the Bedouin people, and has stayed by the village ever since. Her first contact was with Abidallah the fisherman, who had been deaf since early childhood and preferred to spend his days at sea than with the others in his village. It seemed these two loners shared a special bond, communicating with each other in their own special secret way. Olin learned to trust Abidallah and they became firm friends. This had a profound effect on Abidallah, his self-confidence improved as did his standing within the tribe. Eventually Abidallah grew up, found a beautiful Bedouin bride and formed a family of his own. Although he still shares a special bond with Olin, as with many young love affairs, the two find themselves distant friends now.
But, for Olin the bay is home and she is happy with her Bedouin friends. They play together and bring her treats of octopus. She has her own social life, breeding and raising her young, teaching them to trust her human family as she does. Her latest calf is a female, born in October 2000. The Bedouin have named her Mapsutta, which means Happy. Of course, everybody at the village was thrilled and delighted when Olin brought the baby to show her off and introduce her to her human friends.
Olin also has a special love - Fallah. Olin will appear at Fallah's side within seconds of his entering the sea. She loves to be stroked by him and with Mapsutta often perform astonishing leaps together over his head in the water. Fallah will happily take swimmers into the sea and bring Olin to them for a special experience they will never forget. A wild dolphin coming to be stroked!
Word of the friendly dolphin has spread around the world and visitors travel from all over to the little village of Mezina for the chance to swim with the dolphins. In particular, swimming with the dolphins is known to be therapeutic for sick and disabled people and can help with autism, depression, deafness and many other problems, so it is not unusual to see Fallah and his friends helping a disabled person into the sea to meet and swim with Olin and Mapsutta. The joy and delight in all the swimmers' faces when they return is wonderful to see. Many people have told me they will never forget the experience. They describe it as another world - a world of peace and joy and tranquility.
No one knows why Olin has chosen to spend her life with the Bedouin people. It may be their gentle nature matches her own and she has recognised kindred spirits. The Bedouin consider her a gift from Allah. She brings tourists to their village, and tourists bring money. For the Bedouin, money making options are few and far between and all are tourism dependent - some fishing, some camel treks, some trinket sales. The Bedouin fear that if the dolphins leave, the tourists will stop coming. In the meantime they try their best to ensure that each person makes a good connection, whilst taking care of the dolphins' needs, so Olin and Mapsutta are well loved and well protected.
Ruth Corner runs UK based travel company 'Wild and Free' and brings small groups of people to Mezina to swim with Olin and Mapsutta. For the latest news and information check the website www.dolphinswims.co.uk
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