Just returning from a diving trip in Mozambique, South Africa. The trip was nice.
Most people respond, “You just came back from diving in South Africa and the trip was “nice“…that’s it?!” Let me explain, I had high expectations for the diving but unfortunately our club visited Tofu Beach during the winter season. The visibility and cold water wasn’t something I anticipated but more importantly I couldn’t equalize during my dives so I stopped diving for most of the week. During our stay about the 3rd day, I realized that I hadn’t left the beach area and I could have easily been in Cozumel, Puerto Rico or Jamaica if I had not left the beach. I felt like I hadn’t really appreciated Africa. I wanted to touch and feel Africa. So I rented an ATV for a while and ventured out in the countryside. I saw things the made me appreciate how great Africa is, the humility and greatness of the continent is something that changes you. It’s hard to understand or describe but it’s an energy that is significant, massive, present and humble. People have always told me that when you visit Africa it changes you. It does change you but it’s not overwhelming, it’s great and subtle at the same time, but it’s there.
During my stay the local street vendors would hassle the visiting divers to buy bracelets, necklaces, etc. It’s not fair to say hassle but if you travel, it’s just part of the experience. I got into a conversation with several of the young men, and I started mentoring, go figure. Any way I met George, Anton, Christoff, and Pedro.First, I told them, “You guys all have the same bracelets! You have to put Tofo Beach, or Mozambique on the bracelets. Remind people of where they visited, change it up a bit. You with the cashew nuts, as soon as the divers get out of the water, offer them a bag. The divers won’t have any money on them but they’ll be hungry. Get the money from them later.” We had a good time talking and chilling out. We played some soccer on the beach, I was now in Africa! I met a bunch of kids but something about Pedro got my attention.
Pedro Vasco Milice Jije:
The next day I met up with Pedro. He walked up and pulled me to the side and showed me the bracelets he made. He did exactly what I said and made bracelets with Tofo Beach, Mozambique, and Inhambane. Wow…I was like, “Nice! You listened to me.” He smiled and I hooked him up. We talked for a while and I knew we had a bond. Something in the way he listened and asked questions. I no longer felt like a tourist or visitor of Africa, he gave me a small purpose on the continent.
I think he said he was 21 years old and the 10th grade. I’m not sure if I got something wrong or there is a different system of education I’m unaware. He speaks English, Bitonga, Portuguese, Sissoua and Sagana. His hobby is playing soccer on the beach and he likes Rick Ross. We both like to watch UFC and we both want to be mechanics, funny. Pedro has 3 brothers and 4 sisters. I can say we talked for a bit. The next day he had a same humble demeanor and he smiled a little harder when I complimented him on his fly haircut. He wished he could visit the US and I told him I would see what I could do. I could try to sponsor him or something. It was a sour departure because of my new buddy. He said, “Don’t forget about me.”
I left Africa with new experiences; seeing lions in the wild killing a giraffe, flying down the fastest and highest zipline in the world, seeing a whale shark, a manta and a breaching whale. Most importantly I’ll have memories of my buddy “Pedro the mechanic”.
So yes I visited Africa and the experience humbled me. I was humbled by the great friendships and connections made; Tawanda the soap stone artist, Ernesto from Tofo Scuba eatery, Bitonga divers Paulo, Adamu, Kudzi from Guidnane island. (The first female diver from Mozambique and 1 of 2 females in Africa), and Emmanuel the gardener in Soweto.
A video of us launching a boat off the beach for a dive:
There’s so much I could talk about but some things become a part of you that you can’t explain. I’ve inserted some pictures to tell the story. Ziplining in Sun City, meeting the Bitonga divers, Safari in Pilanesberg and sailing to Guidwane island.
Part of the beauty of life is sharing experiences becoming a better person because of them.
My circle feels like it’s expanded and there’s a deeper appreciation for my blessings. Now there’s an ever present concern for the state of the continent and the current exploitation. I will also miss my buddy Pedro Vasco Milice Jiji.