Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Welcome to Tofo Bay, Mozambique! Say hi to a humpback whale.

COUNTRY: Mozambique
PROJECT: Marine Conservation and Care Work
WRITTEN BY: Michaela Neunborn

There’s nothing that quite says ‘Welcome to Africa’ like landing on Mozambican soil, going a bit faster than the small plane looks like it can handle, stepping out into dry heat and being greeted by an airport no bigger than your average school hall. The first thing we see is not signs directing us to our luggage or reminding you to clear customs, but instead a chilled out bunch of people drinking beer and watching the planes land as though it was the day-time soap. Looking out the windows of the bus, as we drove down the only road there seems to be to Tofo Bay, we saw what can only be described as a vast amount of tropical looking rural area (i.e. countless palm trees, scattered grass huts and the occasional goat). The road narrowed and turned to sand as we neared the bay, and so the quaint little town of Tofo was revealed to us. It’s the kind of unavoidably loveable and beautiful place where things just happen in their own sweet time, seemingly regardless of your plans. Right by the beach in the centre of it all is the small but bustling market place, surrounded by uniquely rustic bars and restaurants-not such a bad place to call home for 2 months in our opinion.

The next day was our first trip into Inhambane, the nearest ‘big city’ and coincidentally our first ride in what they call here ‘chappas’ (which is a bus/taxi that seems to have the ability to fit an infinite amount of people into it…perhaps a bit like Mary Poppins bag), which was quite an experience. After completing some boring but necessary tasks (drawing money, getting SIM cards ect) we ate at a local restaurant tucked away in the central markets but by far the highlight was sitting on the side of the road drinking out of fresh coconuts.

I won’t bore you too much with the details of the theory sections of the PADI dive course which occupied the following days, I will say however that it was totally worth it when on Friday we had our first dive! The water was a bit choppy as we traveled the dive location, but it doesn't seem to matter under the surface (prepare yourself for this corny and cliché description) because it’s honestly a different world down there, being suspended in serene blueness. We were so close to the humpback whales that through the silence we could hear them (Dory from ‘Finding Nemo’ does a pretty good impression of whales, in case you needed a reference point). Such an awesome experience! Although it was quite tiring, so sadly there are no interesting Friday night tales as we all crashed into our mosquito-netted beds pretty early.

Feeling like very confident travelers on the weekend we attempted a trip to Inhambane…only to find that not a lot is open on Saturdays (excluding the local supermarket, so don’t worry- we were able to acquire chocolate). On Saturday night we made a trip to the infamous Dino’s bar, which is the closest thing to club here in Tofo and on Sunday a few of the volunteers went to Yoga followed by breakfast and a swim at ‘Mozambeats’ (which also hosts ‘Wednesday movie nights’, free movie and free popcorn…fair to say we love this place). First week has been incredible, and next week we begin the social project, so it can only go up from here!
Stay tuned :D'

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