The real adventure began when we found ourselves lost in the sand dunes of Mozambique. On crossing over the Kosi Bay border in South Africa to Mozambique, one is confronted with mounds of soft white silky sand – in fact hills and valleys of the stuff. Someone’s car ahead of us had succumbed to the sand and was stuck fast. Luckily for him a local truck arrived to haul him out. With no signs, or discernible roads, with only a zigzag of tracks to follow, it took some time to reach Malongane, our destination dive camp. We eventually arrived just as the sun was setting.
Our quaint log cabin was basic, two beds and a balcony, what else was needed? It was set on stilts under a canopy of trees. Whilst standing on the beach a few paces away and looking back inland, it was impossible to see the accommodation and people milling around under the cover of trees. The sand underfoot was the softest I had ever sunk my toes into. Kicking off my shoes, this is how I lived, barefoot, for the remainder of the trip. With a very basic on-site shop and nothing in the vibrant local village that resembles a supermarket, we had fortuity brought everything we needed to eat and drink for the duration of our trip. All of this added to the sense of adventure, but the most anticipated was yet to come. This was where dreams come true. This was where I was going to get to swim with dolphins.
Unfortunately, the sea was choppy the following day resulting in the cancellation of our launch, but providing me with an opportunity to orientate myself. A stunning decked bar area overlooked the beach. The onsite shop sold delicious Portuguese bread Pao – lethal for the waistline! And the brightly coloured shacks in the local village offered a variety of Mozambique specific curios.
The beach sloped gently into the sea, which meant it was ideal for our children to swim and body surf in. Later in the afternoon the sun peeped out from behind the clouds and the receding tide exposed rocks – perfect for snorkelling. In preparation for our launch we decided to try out our new diving paraphernalia (snorkel, goggles and flippers). We were entertained by a huge shoal of silver fish, a pipe fish and a fish disguised as a leopard.
The big day dawned and there were some nervous looks passing around our breakfast table, having received our pre-launch chat the previous evening, we were ready in theory, yet not in practise. The launch moment arrived and there we were, pushing our rubber duck into the crashing waves. When the command ‘ladies’ was called out, I started an unsuccessful attempt at jumping up and simultaneously attempting to haul myself into the rubber duck. One of the crew rushed over to assist me unintentionally placing his hand a tad too close to my nether regions, which had the spontaneous effect of propelling me instantly onto the edge of the boat. For a few awkward moments there I lay wobbling on the side, like a beached whale, attempting a speedy manoeuvre into a more lady like position. Luckily a few others found themselves in a similar predicament and so we all surreptitiously chose to ignore each other’s plight.
Read more from Claire Madgwick and the rest of this article in Part 2