Monday, March 30, 2009

Pemba to Mombasa: Photo Journal

Hi Everyone,
I hope you’re all doing well. I’m continuing on my whirlwind adventure and having a great time! I’ve been to so many places and met so many people it’s hard to keep up. But I’d love to share as much as I can with all of you so here’s a photo tour of my last few weeks.
Ok, as you probably know already, I spent the first 6 weeks of my time at the Manta Resort on Pemba Island, Tanzania. The resort is peaceful and filled with many kind folk from all around the world. I’m especially fond of the locals who really helped settle in.

Cpt. Mandela, Cpt. Simba, Me, Dive Master Max, and Guest

The neat thing about resorts is that you also get to learn about places that the guest came from. I’ve met people from and learned about Switzerland, Sweden, Italy, Finland, Canary Islands, South Africa, Ireland, England, Spain, and of course, Kenya and Tanzania. One of my favorite friends was Laura from London. :)
Laura had her 1st Birthday at Pemba

Now, island living can be really calm- too calm- so they best way to deal with it is to go diving! The diving here is first-class. It’s remote and the tourism industry hasn’t hit this area very hard so it’s not crowded either.

Isn’t it stunning? I also got a chance to become and advanced diver AND join the 50m club (Recreational depths is 30-40m and 50m is for extremely advanced divers because it’s dangerous. Lucky for me, I went diving with two instructors so I got an early shot at it.) I also got Narced (nitrogen narcosis). So I was slightly “drunk” for a part of it. It’s normal but that’s also why deep diving is dangerous. Any how, it was a sweet dive.

Ok, so I’ve played a lot but I’ve also worked. But I’d do this kind of work even on my time off. My main project was to conduct an underwater survey of the area they’re planning to build the underwater villas for the hotel. So they set me up with a boat, a captain, a cook, and two assistants to get it done. We spent 5 days living on the boat and puttering around the island. I was in my element doing this project- especially when I finished the day working at a wooden desk that was lit up by an oil lantern. I felt like I had finally joined the ranks of Galileo and Columbus :). Dolphins even escorted us out. It was surreal.

Me pretending to be an explorer.
My wooden desk.
My oil lamp with chai tea mixings in the back

The Crew (Me, Saidi, Cpt Shay, Hurun, and Cook Semeni)

Back at my cool desk and you can see my bed behind me.

I even got injured island-style on the job. I stepped on an urchin on the second day. Thankfully, it turns out that it’s really not that bad and it’s a fear worth getting over. I was back on my feet in 15 minutes after Saidi, my assistant, ran onto the island and brought back a few juvenile papayas and put the sap on my feet. Like he said, it was “Hakuna matata.” – “No Problem.” – by the next day… as long as I didn’t touch it… so I didn’t…

These urchins are tough though. Their needles are so brittle that you can’t pull them out. You just kind of have to wait for your body to pummel it into powder. Later on, Harun, my other assistant, brought me a different kind of urchin and said, “This OK. Step on. Pull out. No problem.” I just looked at him and laughed and told him I’ll go for that kind next time.

After we finished the surveying project, I was swept off to Mombasa, Kenya which feels like a metropolitan city after living on Pemba Island. There’s electricity 24-7 (for the most part) and internets much quicker. AND there’s a shopping center that rivals Walmart. They even have Nutella.

I’ve been here 10 days and the fun’s been non-stop. I went wreck diving with friends the first weekend.
Wreck Diving: Gabriel, Me, and Sylvia.
Moray Eel

And camel racing this weekend. The camels weren’t so into the race but the race was exhilarating non-the-less for the riders who screamed and yelled just the same.

We also spent the day on a sandbar (a small island that appears at low tide) and played bocce ball like it was the World Cup. And when the tide came up and our island disappeared, we just floated around in the water with a drink in our hand.

Life here is sweet and the attitude and atmosphere is well-modeled by my new friend, Cosmo, who’s a native Kenyan and wouldn’t leave this place for the world.