Published: May 11th 2012
May 11th 2012
Marcel, Ben, Pieter and I went on our first ocean safari today…sadly, no whale sharks. But I did see my first ever Hammerhead shark and Black Fin Reef shark. We also encountered two pods of dolphins, both bottlenose and humpback dolphins. I was not in good position to take photos of anything. The water is full of plankton, so in order to get a good photo you’d need to be within 6 feet, I think. It was my first time in a zodiac (a sort of rubber boat), well not the very first time, the first one was when we went to look at elephant seals in Great White Shark infested waters, so obviously the goal was to stay IN the boat. Getting in and out of a zodiac has its challenges. Also there are no piers here, so the boat has to be driven to the beach, pushed into the water by the passengers of the boat, you then jump into the boat and ride over the waves to get out of the bay. An adventure, for sure! There were twelve people on the boat, so you can imagine the rush to get into the water. I went in twice
but quickly decided it was too many people to get close to the animals anyway. I sat out a couple of times, waiting for the whale sharks who never appeared. The energy it takes to roll off the boat, swim in the swells, then get back in the boat is enormous. Fortunately for my sugar levels I took a peanut butter sandwich with me.
The area where the whale sharks feed is a four kilometer stretch just outside the bay, quite different from the 22 miles plus you have to go from Cancun or Holbox. The dive sites aren’t far off either. I am diving in the morning, at Manta Reef (MANTA RAYS!) and the “Office”. The fish are so differently marked and colored here, I cannot wait to start taking photos. There are a couple of dragon eels on the Office, I hear, and I’d love to photograph them!
Our coordinators, Ross and Katie, are back now, apparently Mozambique’s border guards are a bit power hungry and love to refuse visas to people. They had to go to South Africa in order to get a Mozambique visa! Crazy, right? They are both very likeable. I’ve spent part of the day learning how to put data into the fish databases, and I took my fish test this morning (I passed). So…ready for surveys.
There is another young man I’d like Ally to meet: Darren, a whale shark researcher from the Seychelles. Lovely young man. Don’t think he’d want to live in Dallas though….his passion in life is whale sharks, and there aren’t any in Dallas….but they are only a two and a half hour flight away.
I have settled in. Ages in the house range from 21 to 52, most in their 20s but a few in their 30s and one woman in her forties. I love Tofo….it is so beautiful. From the boat today I saw areas outside our bay, cliffs and huge sand dunes, beautiful homes high on the hills. One area is powered by a wind turbine. If you want to buy in Mozambique, do it now, I predict you’ll triple your money in 5-10 years. The town is filled with Aussies and South Africans, the research base at Casa Barry is a major hot spot. Scientists and interns and volunteers are everywhere. I’ve seen several tourists, none American so far.
I highly recommend Tofo to the mid-life crisis crowd, I am so glad I came. I am on my own, away from everything familiar, and I feel energized by the freedom I am experiencing. I love my family with every cell in my body, but you know we all play roles during our lives…I have always been someone’s daughter, sister, mother, spouse; taking responsibility and putting everyone’s needs ahead of my own. It is refreshing to just answer to myself, to do what I want to do when I want to do it, without taking care of anyone or being fearful of hurting someone’s feelings. The people here just accept me and make no demands. Maybe we all need an experience like this at some point in our lives. It is giving me space that I have never felt before. I am resolved to enjoy every opportunity. Tonight is a talk on sea turtles at Casa Barry, I plan to go over an hour early and have a nice dinner. The volunteer house is not a culinary delight.