I’m now a certified Open Water Diver! (Matembwe, Zanzibar)

Had a 6.30am meet on Friday for the shuttle to go to Matembwe – in typical African fashion Kate and I (Aussie med student who was also going diving) were there on time but the driver was 40mins late.  This time my instructor is a French lady called Martine – I have to say I preferred Faridu my other instructor but she was OK.  Much more people were diving from here. 

Mnemba Atoll where we were diving is a protected marine park and is meant to have some of the best diving in Zanzibar.  Coral wasn’t great though (better in Stone Town) but the fish were amazing.  We got all of the skills out of the way on the first dive so could actually enjoy the second one.  Diving is so much more enjoyable when you don’t have to worry about taking your mask off or your regulator out under water!  Both dives were 18mtrs deep something two days ago would have petrified me so must be getting my confidence up.

Stayed in Matembwe at the Matembwe Beach Villages for two nights.  Gorgeous place on the longest white sandy beach you have ever seen – and it is deserted.  The rooms are lovely each with own veranda with big cushion filled seats.  The beds were fantastic – almost as comfortable as my bed at home – which is saying something for a hotel bed.  I was stunned at the quality of the food – it was a half board basis so I wasn’t expecting much but each night they came out with an amazing 3 course gourmet meal – not the place to go if you want to lose weight!  No internet access but that was quite nice. 

I would love to be there at a full moon as the beach would have been amazing by moonlight – as it was the stars were so clear even with a dying moon.  Only downside was that because it is such a fantastic place it is all couples on romantic breaks/honeymoons – the kissing in the pool gets a bit much after a while!  So I decided to go diving again the next day. 

Oddly I was more nervous beforehand for my first dives as a certified diver than I was before starting the course.  Diving with me was Laurent a French guy with an enormous moustache that even curled up at the ends, Tony an Australian guy who worked for the Australian Embassy in Nairobi specialising in foreign aid and Junior our dive master.  They were all much better at spotting the fish than I was.  There is no way in a million years I would have spotted the Crocodile Fish (it really does look like a crocodile – quite off putting) or the apparently quite rare leaf fish (which even when first pointed out I thought was a piece of seaweed!) but I did spot the Stone Fish on my own and the Lion fish but the latter was hard to miss.  Saw 10 different varieties of Nudibranches – a bit like a slug but they are really colourful and pretty. 

At one point Junior made the sign for a shark so we swam away from the coral into the deep water – I thought we were getting away from it but it turned out we were chasing it!  Luckily we didn’t see it but I did experience how disorientating it can be under water if you can’t see the bottom.  I thought we were swimming upwards but we were actually going slightly down – hit 20mtrs on my depth gauge which is a bit naughty as I’m only meant to go to 18mts with Open Water Certification – but nobody is going to check.

Sadly couldn’t dive on Sunday as had to get a plane in the afternoon and after multiple dives you have to have at least 18hours on land before you can fly – will certainly be doing more dives on this trip maybe from Pemba Island and Mafia Island.

Arrived in Dar Es Salaam and checked into hotel ready to start work tomorrow.  I now know my meeting starts at 11am somewhere in Dar Es Salaam but as yet I have no idea where it is!!!!!  Sure I will find out tomorrow at some point…..


About becksupeverest

Took a leave of absence from work and decided to work as a volunteer in Tanzania based in Korogwe, a small town in the northeast of the country (combined with some travels around East Africa). The project is to look at the cost base, strategy and business plan of a tree nursery NGO - one of the Gatsby Foundation projects.
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