Week Seven - Tofo Beach Mozambique
Trip Start Aug 26, 2003
50Trip End Aug 24, 2004
Try again. Up to dive centre and straight out to Barra Lagoon. This time joined by Beth from the deserts of mid west USA. Nicola gets on much better with skills this time, Peter not so good. Finished by 1.30pm. Tomorrow scheduled for deep dive in open water (ie the ocean). Cant wait. Discovered that there is a small airport in nearest town of Inhambane with twice weekly flights to Joburg. Sort of booked flights through Barra Lodge leaving Monday 13 October. No tickets or confirmation number but credit card details given. Cost 3600 rand for both (180 GBP each) but saves us getting local transport back to Nelspruit and then 5 hour bus to Joburg. This does mean however that we will miss out on Kruger Park and surrounding sights but we feel that it is worth it. Andy described us as Gucci backpackers which is probably fair enough. Also booked our flights to Singapore for Wednesday 15 Oct
Day 44 - Wednesday 8 October
After a night of tossing and turning Peter declares that diving is not for him and goes to tell Vernon. Vernon is fine about it. Nicola, to Peters flabbergastment, decides to struggle on with the course. Peter goes back to bed. Nicola carries on with the first deep dive of 7m. Boat journey out to Clownfish Reef in Tofo Bay as scary as the anticipation of the dive. Boat launched from beach and has to crash through surf to open water. I have never been able to dive into water and the entry method for the dive was a backward roll into water. Wet suit already donned, the next stage is to kit up with all the scuba gear. Once the dive site was reached on the count of three we had to roll backwards into the water and wait until everyone surfaced. It was agreed beforehand that Nicola and Beth would buddy up for the dive and the other couple Mano and Nonja would dive first whilst Nicola and Beth wait at the surface. This wait only allowed for the tension to build, the water very choppy made breathing very difficult and Nicola started to panic. Beth calmed Nicola down and then both went under. Once under, nerves subsided and the underwater world was spectacular. As one of my main worries is breathing, due to my asthma. I constantly, more than the others, checked my air guage and using the recognised diver hand signals (an underwater Sign Language) was the first to bring it to the attention of Vernon that I was getting low on air
Peters justification for giving up diving are as follows :
I am a nose breather. This means that I breathe almost exclusively through my nose with my mouth used primarily for eating, drinking and occasionally speaking
Whilst Nicola was off breathing through her nose, I took a chappa to the nearest ATM in the town of Inhambane some 30 minutes away. The local people, though poor, dressed in their finest for a visit to the markets in town. One especially large woman was carrying a black plastic basin for a handbag. The minibus stopped off often, many times to simply have a laugh with those on the roadside. Once in town I headed off to the ATM which turned out to be out of order. After a quick walk around town I returned to the chappa park, climbed aboard a minibus bound for Tofo. I climbed to the back seat and squeezed in beside the fat girl with the basin. The roof sloped down at the rear which meant I had to sit with my head on my chest. The fat lady couldnt fit her basin between her and the seat in front therefore had to rest it on the back of the seat. Sadly the basin was full of fish, no more than six inches from my face. Every bump in the road or convulsive laughter from my neighbour caused my face to be splattered with fish juice. The chap on my other side had a ridge of skin running up the middle of each finger nail. This combined with the fish scales on the forearms of the fat lady formed a very reptilean image in my mind. I alighted never having seen the face of the lady but will always picture her as the headless woman in the Tom and Jerry cartoons
Back at Bamboozi Nicola had done her second dive of 15m to Mike's Cupboard. On the way to this dive we stopped to snorkel with three Whale Sharks (a speciality in this area and rarely seen by other divers). I remembered more from this dive, although not everything. We spotted Stingrays and Trumpetfish and Vernon heard the distant calling of Whales and spelt it out in capital letters on the palm of his hand (my Sign Language training assisted). The visibility (viz in the trade) was excellent and the waters a lovely turquoise blue. The colours of the fish were amazing, bright yellows and blues. Our ascent was more controlled this time but getting in the boat was equally undignified. Back on land again I still could not believe that I had actually been diving. What a great feeling.
That night in the bar Peter kept winking at Vernon and saying, still breathing through the nose man! Which amused Vernon no end. Another great nights craic in Bamboozi.
That night, to celebrate giving up diving Peter took up smoking again. This time, with a bit more willpower, he will be able to keep smoking and not give up so easily.
Day 45 - Thursday 9 October
Day four of diving school but this time back to the Lagoon for skills session, disliked by all especially me. Not as enjoyable as the open water sessions as it necessitates tasks such as swimming for 10m without a mask and deliberating flooding your mask and replacing underwater. Followed by a dive in the lagoon to add a dive to our logbook. Five dives along with knowledge reviews and exams are required to complete the Open Water PADI certification. Peter meanwhile went with Bill on bus into Inhambane to try to get cash again. They had a grand old time walking around the old Portugese buildings around the quay and through the markets. The ATM was working so withdrew nine mill.
Day 46 - Friday 10 October
Final day of dive school. Back to Mike's Cupboard for first dive and then onto Simons Town, 18m dive. Cow fish, more whale Sharks and multitude of assorted brightly coloured fish. Last four dives only included the students but this dive had three qualified divers along
Day 47 - Saturday 11 October
We have noticed how this place seems to make everbody stay longer and longer
Day 48 - Sunday 12 October
Days have merged into one another
Day 49 - Monday 13 October
Up for last bit of sun and then pack up, say our goodbyes and get lift with Jackie on back of truck to Tofo. Whilst waiting for the local chappa to depart some of the locals asked us where we were going. When we said we were flying from Inhambane Airport they looked disbelieving. They laughed when we explained we were getting a chappa with wings to Joburg. Driver kindly dropped us off right at airport, contrary to normal practice. Just us and bored security man in airport. Start reading our new books whilst time dragged but clocked ticked double fast. A bus load of South Africans preceeded a buzz of activity with the Customs and Excise men arriving. Soon the plane buzzed into view, landed, loaded and took off. The captain clamboured aboard this 18 seater, turned round and said you all know the drill by now, no smoking, etc and fired up the engine. We each have a goodie bag on our seats containing, crisps, nuts, refreshers and a bag of biltong. Welcome back to SA. Two hour flight gets us into Lasarie Airport, Joburg, 50 minute drive from Joburg International Airport. We get taxi across to Holiday Inn Hotel at JIA for a bit of pampering. Dine in attached Steers restaurant with huge juicy steaks. Had long soak in bath to clean sand engrained feet after not wearing shoes for 10 days.