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Published: June 26th 2018
My next stop would be Tofo. I'd heard great things about this place from other travellers I had met. The diving, especially for large animals e.g. manta rays, humpback whales and whalesharks, and beaches were supposed to be great. I met a couple at my hostel in Vilanculos who happened to be driving to Tofo and so they offered me a lift with them in their 4x4. Result!
The drive took about 5 hours. The scenery around the city of Inhambane on our approach to Tofo was really pretty with lots of palm trees and a few colonial buildings dotted around the place. When we arrived in Tofo we went straight to one of the dive centres, called 'Peri Peri' - 'the hottest diving in Mozambique' (yep) to book in some dives. Having already done my open water qualification in Honduras 8 years ago, I now wanted to do my advanced course in diving. So I booked onto the 4 day course including a refresher course for day one to get me up to scratch again! I went to stay at Mozambeat hostel which had been recommended by lots of different people. It was a beautiful hostel situated about 20
minutes away from Tofo in a place called Tofinho. It was Dutch owned and beautifully decorated with a swimming pool, bar, lots of hammocks and a mini cinema. Perfect! I unloaded all my stuff in my dorm room and prepared to chill for a good few days here 😊 Tofinho itself is perched up on an escarpment above Tofo with some beautiful rocky cliffs and is Mozambique's surfing capital. It's very quiet compared to Tofo but has a beautiful, deserted beach. I explored it a little bit on my first evening and then headed back to the hostel to watch the sunset from a hammock, coconut in hand. For dinner I had veggie samosas to start, breaded calamari and chips for mains and a squidgy chocolate brownie with ice cream for dessert. Yum!! I drank R+R which is a typical Mozambican drink of rum (tipo tinto) with raspberry soda. It's really really sweet and I only had the one! Later in the evening they showed 'Black Panther' in the mini cinema. I fell asleep pretty soon into it.....
The next morning I had my refresher course. My instructor was Anja from Germany who was a complete babe
and first we chatted through some theory and then she took me into the pool to go through the basic diving skills e.g. clearing your mask, losing your mask, buoyancy and out-of-air drills etc. I felt a bit out practice at first but soon got back into it. I then went to have lunch on the beach - meze followed by chocolate ice cream (OBVS went for the classic local delicacy...not). Filled and ready for my afternoon dive! In Tofo, the dives go out on speedboats from the beach itself. A tractor has to be used to push and pull the boat to and from the beach. We all have to help with launching and docking the boat. We headed out on a shallow dive (i.e. maximum depth of 18m) at 'amphitheatre' dive site. The coral was beautiful and we saw lots of cool things like a torpedo ray, yellow snapper and old woman angel fish (such a great name). On the way back from the dive we spotted 2 whale sharks and a manta ray!!! So we got back in the water and swam alongside them for a bit. The whale sharks have a beautiful spotted pattern and it
was soooooo chilllllled and peaceful just swimming alongside them. Equally, the manta had a gorgeous black and white pattern and was so graceful just gliding through the water. I was completely spoilt on my first dive ha. We then headed back to land. As the boat reaches the shore it goes at full speed so it can get far enough up the shore for the tractor to retrieve it. It's actually quite scary until finally you hit the beach and all go half flying. We got back to the dive centre and filled our logbooks and drank tea and chatted about how cool the dive was! I then went to check out Tofo market which had everything you could think of e.g. fruits, veggies, fish, food stalls, clothes, souvenirs and lots of booze. I then headed back to the hostel and had dinner (went for the chocolate brownie again heeeheeeee) and chilled for the evening. I was in bed by 9pm. Diving makes you tired!
For the next few days I continued with my course. There was mixture of theory with a fair bit of reading/studying as well as going out diving every day. Topics included how to navigate
underwater, deep diving, drift and boat diving and fish identification. It's so interesting :p drift diving turned out to be my favourite. During the dives we continued to see some amazing things like harlequin shrimp, octopus, loggerhead/green/hawksbill turtles, potato grouper (my new favourite fish, has to be one of the best names EVER), manta ray cleaning stations. These are actually a thing! They are where manta rays and other aquatic life congregate to be cleaned by smaller creatures. Parasites are removed by creatures such as cleaner shrimp and cleaner fish. Sort of like an underwater carwash. SO COOOOOL. Also saw loads of fying devil rays, amazing coral with little forests on them (one site is actually called Sherwood forest). During surface intervals (you have to have a break in between dives to breathe out all the nitrogen that accumulates in your body during dives. This helps to prevent the 'bends' a.k.a. decompression sickness which is where nitrogen bubbles form in your body. These bubbles can make you very sick. Therefore, surface intervals are really important) we would all just chill on the boat and have top jokes and eat sandwiches and doughnuts and lollipops and drink tea. Diving makes you
surprisingly hungry because 1. You are physically active and the resistance and pressure underwater is more than in air so your body has to work that much harder and 2. It's colder underwater so your body has to work harder to keep you warm. So the doughnuts and lollipops were well earned!! Also, most days it was sunny so it was always nice to warm up in the sun after a dive. At the end of the week I had completed my advanced course and can now call myself an advanced diver! So I celebrated over the weekend with some people from the hostel, with trips to the beach to eat coconuts.
On the Saturday evening, my dive buddy Anja was celebrating becoming a dive master so Steve, the owner of Peri Peri dive centre, organised a meal and party for her at Mozambeat hostel. They invited me along too which was so nice! We had a buffet dinner and a few bottles of wine. After the meal it was the final of the champion's league football so the hostel was full of all the local people who had come to watch the game on the big screen. I
didn't care about the football at all but it was nice for everybody to be together and have drinks and top jokes.
The next morning I had my first surf lesson! I have tried surfing once before in Morocco but only had a group lesson. So I decided to organise some private lessons here in Tofo. My teacher was called Yanek who was from Germany and was only 19 years old but was your typical surfer dude - long blond surfer dude hair and alllllll chilllllledddd and 'howwwww's it goingggggggg?' and 'let's go ride some wavvvvvvvvvves'. Jokes. He said he would get me standing on the board by the end of the lesson and I replied 'You must be joking'. It was such a fun lesson and Yanek was right, I managed to stand on the board!! I would recommend trying surfing to anybody - it's literally the funnest thing ever!!!! After my lesson I went to the market for lunch. Half of the town i.e. dive instructors, surf instructors, travellers were also there for their lunch. I ate grilled calamari with matapa and rice. Matapa is a typical Mozambique dish which I also ate on Mozambique Island -
it's made of ground cassava leaves slow cooked with onion, garlic, coconut milk and cashews/peanuts. Afterwards a group of us went to 'Jenny's' for cake. This was my first of many visits to Jenny's cafe....she had all sort of delicious cakes on offer such as carrot cake, apple cake, chocolate cake, salted caramel chocolate brownie, and lemon and poppyseed muffins.I opted for the carrot cake with a pot of tea which I know isn't your typical Mozambique dessert but sometimes you just gotta, right??
In the evenings in Tofo, an organisation called Marine Megafauna Foundation (MMF) gave talks in various locations in the town. MMF are an organisation who are involved in the research, education and conservation of marine life. Their talks to the local community included subjects such as whale sharks, manta rays, turtles and dolphins. I was a geek and went to nearly every talk.
After a week in Mozambeat hostel I decided to move to a hostel a bit closer to town and the beach. I moved to Pariango hostel which was a 2 minute walk from the markets and it was right on the beach. Because it was low season I got
a twin room with a Swiss girl called Lena for the same price as a dorm room. Luckily, we got on like a house on fire. When I checked in however, the owner informed me, whilst looking at my passport, that my visa would expire the next day. So he advised me to go to the nearest immigration office in the town of Maxixe the next day to renew it. I was sure my visa wouldn't expire for at least 2 more weeks but I took his advice and headed to Maxixe the next day. From Tofo I took a rusty chapa (for just 22mets = 25p) with seats and doors falling off. The usual. I sat in the 'monkey seat' i.e. in between the driver and the front passenger seat. It was basically just a lump of foam sandwiched in between a plastic hole of a box which digs into your hips. Not the most comfortable. Also the driver was a maniac and nearly crashed into another chapa when he was trying to overtake it. Idiot. At Inhambane I got off and walked along Avenue da Independencia, past the Cathedral of Nossa Senhora de Conceicao, to the port. I
took a boat (for 15 mets = 15p) across Inhambane Bay to Maxixe. The boat was as rusty as the chapa and the driver had to pull on a piece of string about 13 times before he could get the engine going. The boat was packed full and we wore life jackets. I strategically sat at the back near an open area for an easy escape if needed. The journey across the bay was quite nice actually; the sun shone and it looked very pretty. At Maxixe, immigration was easy to find. Turns out I had been right and my visa was valid for another 14 days. But I would need to renew it as my flight out of Mozambique wasn't for another 16 days. So I left it at immigration and would have to pick it up the following week. At immigration I met a South African dude who, after a planned 2 week holiday in Tofo 12 years ago, had never left since! We took the boat back together and he gave me a lift back to Tofo in his 4x4. These South Africans love their 4x4s! On the way he told me all about his life in
Me and Lena (my room mate)
Tofo. He had first come and worked as a dive master and instructor for 10 years. For the last 2 years he changed career and became a guitar maker. Intriguing. The next day I had another surf lesson with Yanek. 'Superrrrr chilllllled, let's doooooo zis', 'ze water is superrrrrr nice today' (in his german accent 😊 ) afterwards I ate passion fruit porridge. I had managed to find a shop that sold oats....and cooked them with fresh passion fruit from the market....a tasty post-surfing snack!
Later in the week, Lena (my roomate) and a couple of us from the hostel decided to take a walk to Barra. Barra sits at the top of the Barra Peninsula where the water of Inhambane Bay mixes with those of the Indian ocean. It's a bit quieter and pricier than Tofo. We set off after lunch and walked down the local sandtrack through all the local little villages. There were palm trees everywhere and it was a really beautiful walk. We reached the lighthouse in Barra after a few hours of walking and headed down to the beach to find a bar just in time to have sunset drinks. Delightful! I treated myself
to a glass of sparkling wine. The waiter insisted it was champagne, and who was I to argue? We soaked it all in and had good chats. We then walked into the main town of Barra to jump on a chapa back to Tofo where we grabbed a dinner at 'Wok' at the market. I had a veggie noodles stir fry. A nice change from the usual fish and rice!
Over the course of the weekend the weather misbehaved and we had wind, cold and rain. The temperature during the day was about 20 degrees and about 16 degrees at night, so you'd need a jumper or jacket most of the time. Ah winter in Mozambique. So, before you all ask, no, I don't have a tan....haha. During this miserable weather I also developed a cold. So I couldn't dive. You can't dive if you have a cold because it makes it difficult to equalise your ears as you descend underwater. I did a bit of surfing but generally I just hibernated and hung out at Jenny's cafe for the next few days. Later the following week after my cold had more or less gone, I went out diving
again for a few days. The dives were challenging though because of the wind. The sea was pretty rough. As we attempted to get all our gear on ready for the dive, it was hard not to fall overboard! Also I felt seasick for the first time this trip. However once you get under the water the seasickness disappears. Magic! We saw lots of gorgeous coral and fish including my favourite - the potato grouper 😊 Later on we wolfed down our sandwiches and doughnuts and I slept well that week after all the diving. Towards the end of my stay in Tofo the weather improved marginally with sunshine on my last day! I went all out and tried to pack lots in; a final trip to Jenny's for cake, a final trip to the markets for matapa and rice, a final coconut on the beach, a double dive in the morning (saw 8 manta rays eeeeek!) And surfing at sunset. The surfing was my best yet and I caught lots of wavvvvvvves woo! I said my goodbyes to Yanek 😞 In the evening I met all the Peri Peri diving guys and we had drinks and dinner and said
my goodbyes to them. I was sad! I hate saying goodbye. I had had such a fantastic time in Tofo. The diving had been incredible. I had finally learnt to surf. I had met so many lovely people. I had eaten so much tasty food. But I guess all good things must come to an end.
The next day, I was Maputo-bound. Maputo is the capital of Mozambique where I would take my flight to return home. I would stay for one full day and 2 nights. I took a bus from Tofo at 4am. It wasn't a chapa but it wasn't the most comfortable bus either. The seats were tiny and I was sat next to a beautifully dressed woman who had a haaaaauggggeeee ass so I spent most of my time squished against the window. But I snacked on cashew nuts and Jenny's takeaway passionfruit and orange cake which kept me happy. I arrived into Maputo in the early afternoon and took a taxi to the beautiful Malagueta Inn in Polana where I stayed for 2 nights. In the evening I took a walk around the local area which had lots of restaurants and cafes. The next day I explored the baixa, 'Old town'. I wandered around the Cathedral of Nossa Senhora da Conceicao, City Hall, municipal market and the fort. It was nowhere near as impressive as the fort on Mozambique Island. In general, the city of Maputo didn't appear to be much to look at and I was glad I had only planned a day here. I was due to fly out of Maputo the following day. And fly out of Maputo I did! I flew via Nairobi where I stayed with a friend for 2 nights and prepared for my trip back to London.
I cannot believe my trip has come to end. 3 months have flown past. I have travelled a total distance of
26, 851.3 miles:
21,191.1 miles by plane
5,703 miles by road
57.2 miles by boat.
To think I have travelled this distance is crazy. I have seen and learnt so much. I have met so many lovely people. I have tried so much delicious food. The wildlife and nature has been the highlight for me I think; dolphin swimming in Zanzibar, the national parks in Zambia, Victoria Falls, Lake Malawi and Mount Mulanje, the wildlife diving in Mozambique. But also so many other things were a highlight; learning how to surf, managing to get around much of Africa on public transport and many many other things. And also having all you lovely people at home to chat to and update along the way! Thank you all for all your lovely messages and for reading this blog. It means a lot to me! So now, back to London. A few weeks of fun e.g. weddings, weekends with friends, a trip to Ireland and my upcoming 30th birthday (eeeeeeeeek). And then I will have to get my head down in August. When I will start my new job to train to become a GP. ...eeeeek!!!!! But I never want to stop travelling. It's one of my favourite things to do so watch out for travel blogs in the near future.....! Love Jessica xxx
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