December 9th-14th, 2011
I have officially been in Swaziland for six months December 9th!
To celebrate half a year I am getting the heck out of town. Haha. No it’s just that December marks many celebrations in Swaziland and so not much is happening in the community. Schools are out, men are attending Incwala, people are preparing for Christmas. So it’s a good time for us volunteers to use some of our earned vacation days. We acquire 2 a month, so I decided to spend six of them relaxing on the beaches of Tofo, Mozambique.
I traveled with 7 of my fellow volunteers (including the other three from MN, funny how these thing work out). We spent a night dancing in the Capital city Maputo, and then took public transport 7 hours up to Tofo. Tofo, as a fellow visitor said to me, is so nice because it is secluded enough that all you meet is travelers, not tourists. I had never thought of the difference before, but it makes so much sense. I didn’t meet a single tourist in Tofo. Everyone was there either to scuba dive at one of the best dive sites in the world, or are volunteers/students who heard about Tofo through the grapevine, not in a travel guide.
We camped at a backpackers situated right on the beach. We basically had the beaches to ourselves. No symmetrical pattern of beach umbrellas or cabana boys to bring you drinks from the beach bar. Just local boys calling out to you to buy their bracelets… they make good price, banana price, and the sound of the waves crashing.
I did take advantage of this world-class dive site. Since I have never been diving anywhere except Square Lake, MN I didn’t really know what to expect. Well expect the amazing, that’s what Tofo has to offer. I did one dive, 17m down and saw more fish then I can even remember. We saw large blue starfish, tons of coral, crabs, and an octopus that was camouflaging itself on the ocean floor. Since it was my first dive it seems like a big blur now but it was awesome and the staff at Tofo Scuba are amazing! I had my own personal dive master with me at all times, and he could have been Ashton Kutcher’s Belgium Twin, which didn’t hurt.
I also went on an ocean safari. Here you go out for two hours and hope to be able to jump and swim with something cool. Well I did get to swim with something really cool! About 10 min. after setting out we got to jump in and swim with two Whale Sharks! They were feeding on a plume of sardines and we circled around each other for about 15 minutes. It was one of the most amazing experiences. Whale sharks are the largest fish in the ocean. They are sharks but because of their size and the fact that they are filter feeders they are called whale sharks. They are giant, probably 20 feet long. Their mouths alone can be 4 feet wide. While it was so cool to be so close to them, when they turn towards you with their mouth open its really freaky. They are harmless to humans but my heart raced a few times when I felt a little too close for comfort. We didn’t get to jump in again but we did have bottle-nosed and humpbacked dolphins swim near our boat.
When not enjoying the scenery below the ocean surface I was relaxing on the beach. Spreading my toes out in the white sand, body surfing the waves, and just enjoying the beauty that is Mozambique. We met a lot of locals who sell their wares to you on the beach. Living in Swaziland makes you feel more like a local then a visitor so it was fun to just sit and talk with them. They are so nice and I got a lot of sweet souvenirs out of the deal. Seriously I bought way to many bracelets.
Overall Mozambique is truly a place worth visiting. Totally underestimated by the American perspective. It’s a hidden treasure only know to those true travelers willing to venture slightly off the map. And it has the Indian Ocean!! How exotic!