Snorkeling Song

From last week…

Pemba, Mozambique

Pemba

What a beautiful day outside, though it has been beautiful most days. Some say Hawaii is paradise and I agree, but this is my version of paradise. I’m not necessarily living in reality right now, though in the moment, it’s a great place to be. I spent the last few hours snorkeling in the area in front of the house. I had heard you could snorkel out front, but I wasn’t sure what to expect.

At first it was just sea grass. Lots of it. I was swimming deeper and deeper and still nothing. Not one fish or coral. So I decided to move south, parallel along the shore and finally found a sweet spot. The visibility was decent. In regards to sea life, it wasn’t spectacular but it was beautiful; a lot of very interesting star fish and corals. I saw several eels and a wide variety of colorful fish. Large bright red and beige starfish seemed to be everywhere with these little nubby things on them. On a few occasions I spotted huge odd looking starfish with up to 15 fingers: they were green with 1-2 inch purple spikes all over them. They frightened me a bit, they were so weird. Then there were the awesome big bright blue star fish with long fingers.

I love watching the coral growths sway in the water like hair and observing the little fish that like to hide in them. There were bright green fuzzy looking corals that almost look like moss from afar but when you go closer they have tentacles all over them in circular shapes. Brilliant! But what was most amazing to me was popping my head out of the water and an occasional fisherman in a traditional double-hull outrigger canoe would paddle by, sometimes singing a song in their local language. When I’d put my head down back into the water, I could still hear him singing as he continued on his way.

I spotted a few snorkelers about 100 feet from me. Though instead of tourists, they were Mozambican fisherman pulling in some of their fishing nets or collecting oysters. I would suggest this was more popular with younger fisherman who owned the gear and a lot of African’s don’t know how to swim well. When I swam up to them, they looked somewhat in disbelief at my sight. Like, what the heck was I doing out here? Though what I’m learning is most African’s in towns or cities aren’t surprised so much to see a white person, but a woman alone is a bit unusual. So seeing a woman snorkeling alone where you rarely see anyone snorkel at all must have been a surprise. At first, we stared at each other under water, acknowledging one another in a friendly manner. It’s always a little bit awkward meeting people underwater because you of course can’t talk. After we were finished staring, they began to continue swimming toward the shore. One of them men popped his head up so I did the same and asked one fisherman in Portuguese if he was catching oysters and he said, no, fish. He was dragging bag of fish behind him on a long rope and began to sing underwater as he swam away. I was delighted. I’ve done the same many times.

brittle starfish

I continued on south and ran into a man who was spear fishing. I was hoping I wouldn’t be mistaken as a fish and was having horrible images of my leg being speared. Fortunately he realized I was a person and we also stared at each other at first. I waved, he waved. I then pointed to this fish that looks like a puffer without spikes. I think they are inedible whatever they are b/c he pointed the spear at it but didn’t do anything. I decided to follow him for a little while because maybe he knew of some good spots with big fish. But he went off deeper into the sea so I parted ways and continued south. I swam for quite a distance, maybe a ¼ mile and finally decided it was time to get out. I didn’t know it at the time, but I had been out for over 2 hours. I don’t think it’s a good idea to go snorkeling alone and was getting tired, which made me nervous. It’s best to snorkel in low tide here because you can walk to the reef.

Tigger checking out the sea urchins

The tide is very dramatic, going way out probably 400 meters more or less. The low tide exposes beautiful white sand and green sea grass. It’s quite beautiful but you have to be careful of large pools of water with coral and/or tons of sea urchins and these weird wormy starfish things. Looking around me, it was idyllic and I could hardly contain my joy of how awesome my day had been so far.

pincushion starfish

Back in the house, it’s time to work. I am ready to be finished with this training: though it’s been a great experience, I’m exhausted. Working 15 + hours a day and having to be on all the time is taking its toll. There have been many moments where I felt like I’d either collapse or lose my mind. I’ve had almost no time off since I’ve arrived and I know I need my down time. On Ibo, I actually fell physically ill from lack of rest and had to stop working. I’ll continue working after the training, but not at this pace. My biggest wish for the moment is that I could have more time here to explore and enjoy myself. But alas, summer school and my job in Hawaii awaits for my return. I can’t deny daydreaming about quitting school , job, etc. and staying here.

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