Tuesday it rained. When I say ‘rained’, I actually mean ‘the Heavens opened and it absolutely pissed down’. With nothing to do, a friend and I headed for the one place we knew to have a decent internet connection to wait it out. While we were there, we had a glass of wine. On the way back to the house, it seemed like a great idea to go to Mozambeats Motel for more wine, since I wasn’t scheduled to dive the next day. So I drank more wine. Six more wines, to be exact. As I was starting on glass number seven, our friends arrived to let us know that the schedule had changed and we were diving at 7am. Ha, two hopes of that – No Hope and Bob Hope! The evening ended with my friend and I being driven home by a good samaritan, after she fell off an unlit step and face-planted on the concrete. It sounded painful. The next morning her face was purple, and I made my way to the dive centre to offer my apologies, before passing-out on the beach for the day.
So how did it all pan out? Well … yes, I finished my PADI advanced, believe it or not. I did it the hard way though, by getting up at 5am and doing 3 dives on Thursday, then hitting the 5am slot again on Friday. By the end of the day on Thursday I was a broken person. Freezing cold, chronically seasick from the afternoon double-tank dive, and unable to even appreciate Sid by the time we headed back to shore. Yes, it was a rough day folks.
Despite deserving to have the most epic sleep of my life, I only got a few scrappy hours before dragging my ass back to the dive centre with my ‘drift dive’ homework studiously completed. Thankfully, the best thing about drift diving is that it basically requires no effort whatsoever. Just drop … and, er, drift with the current. And that was it – diving over. And not before time, since the weekend was set to get messy. Actually Friday afternoon was messy in its own way – the ocean safari boat ended up covered in child puke which, in retrospect, was a sign. Apparently Sid forgot to brief the clients that they are supposed to puke OUTSIDE the boat. For once, I didn’t feel like barfing myself and intended to stay that way, so I turned my back resolutely on the crying child. I’m not feeling too guilty about it, since i’m fairly confident i’m spending eternity roasting in hell anyway for more serious misdemeanours.
By this time, I have amassed an impressive tally of injuries, most of which come from the dive boat. Unbelievably, diving has me even more banged-up than paragliding does. I skinned two knuckles all the way down after they spent forty soggy minutes between the boat and a rope on the way to Manta Reef. Starting to heal now, and damn sore. I have a huge bruise on my arm, on my knee, and above my eye from when I overshot jumping into the boat and face planted into someone’s diving gear. I popped a blood vessel in my right eye on my last dive. Oh, and more than my fair share of mosquito bites. At least I think they’re mosquito bites. Still, injuries aside, it was Friday night and time to party.
Now, in my defence, the local tipple is pretty potent stuff. And when you add it to coke, it just tastes a bit like vanilla. Also, the evening started badly when a speeding car ploughed into a dog just a few feet away from us as we were making our way out for the evening. Unfortunately the dog wasn’t killed straight out, and spent an agonising half an hour crying before slipping away. So my buzz was totally killed, and I just wanted to have an epic night. I had a pretty good idea of how I wanted the evening to go, and for once it was actually going the way I planned it. There was one fly in the ointment however … Tipo Tinto. I’ve spent a lot of time since Friday night analysing exactly how it all went so off-piste, and i’ve given up trying to work out exactly what my brain did with the information it was given. I woke up in the sandiest bed in the world, wondering what on earth had happened. I spent saturday on the beach, pretty much dying. No diving, no surfing, just one hundred per cent self-pity.
Now, since it was the last weekend for a couple of us, sitting it out on saturday night wasn’t an option. We also knew that some of the guys at one of the other dive schools had just finished their Divemaster training, and were about to be put through the ‘snorkel test’, so out we went. A couple of drinks later we were sitting watching three guys drink a litre of some revolting concoction through a snorkel, and then attempting to deliver a “client briefing” for a fictional dive. Hilarity ensued. Someone has video. We got to bed relatively early, and had another crappy night’s sleep. By Sunday, I was pretty much done-in … so I slept on the beach again. While I was there, I bumped into someone who was able to fill in the blanks from Friday night, or at least some of them. To say i’ve been beating myself up ever since is a mild understatement. Don’t get me wrong, I’d had a great night – it just wasn’t quite the way it was supposed to go. Hell, it was nothing LIKE the way it was supposed to go! If things happen for a reason then i’d love to know what the reason for that was – it’ll probably be 5 years before I stop kicking myself over it.
So anyway, i’m now sitting in a hostel back in Maputo, having left Tofo at 4am this morning. The bus was crowded and bumpy, but the nine-hour journey actually passed pretty quickly. Mostly because I was still chewing over the events of the weekend and replaying the highlights (who needs TV?!), but the time alone in my own head was well spent in terms of reflecting on the whole Tofo experience.
Perhaps the ‘volunteering’ aspect of the trip was a little iffy. That aside, I had an amazing time, and i’m glad I went. Tofo, is one of those places where people go to lose themselves, find life, find love, mend a broken heart then break it all over again, learn to dive,get a tan, and chill out to the sound of the ocean and the beats that carry on the wind. It’s definitely one of those places, like Buenos Aires or Ihle Grande, where I felt I could get stuck if my itinerary wasn’t fixed. This time it is, which is probably just as well, but I take home some good memories and some inspiration for my next book (assuming I ever manage to finish the current one, that is).
So thank you to everyone who was a part of this experience, in whatever capacity. We finally found the elusive Ein Hornsenfish, and I made some awesome new friends. I’m a great advocate of going the extra mile to stay in touch with the people you meet on your travels – I believe that life throws you together for a reason, although we may not necessarily understand why at the time.
And remember … it’s DEFINITELY malaria.
And just in case you were wondering … no, I never saw a single bastard whale shark the whole time!!!