Land of sun and coconuts: Part 2

Underwater Photography – August 2016

I thought this program just couldn’t get any better, but these last two weeks have been more than amazing.

At the beginning of the week, we went on a cultural tour to the house of one of the dive centre staff. His name is Franky and he has 3 kids with one of his wives – yes, polygamy is the norm in Moz. Franky has 4 more kids with another wife. We got there and immediately all the kids from all around came to climb all over the vehicle to say hi. They welcomed us with huge smiles.

Franky took us to his house. We met his mom and his wives and we played with the kids. They danced and sang for us and they happily posed for all of our pictures.

Franky’s wife made some Matapa for us, a traditional Mozambican dish made from leaves, nuts and coconut milk. It was delicious! One of the kids also climbed a palm tree to get us coconuts with fresh water and crunchy meat. We thought that was it with the delicious food, but Franky brought cashew nuts and toasted them on a fire next to us. A true traditional Mozambican experience.

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We dove all week. The students learned about wide-angle photography and took some stunning shots of the marine life of Guinjata. We had one potato bass encounter that when the fish came so close to us, one of them even kissed Pepe! The mantas came back to Manta Point with crazy amounts of fish everywhere. The conditions were perfect: good visibility and almost no current.

The only dive site where we have current is called Pandaine Express. We love it because you don’t have to swim at all. You just drift enjoying the show as the current takes you along. We usually see many loggerhead and hawksbill turtles and different kinds of rays there. On one dive, we counted more than 20 devil rays on our safety stop, it was amazing!

In the beginning, they struggled a lot with the strobe positioning and the most hated thing for underwater photographers: the horrible BACK SCATTER! For the non-photographers reading this, the definition of backscatter are particles floating in the water that get lit up by the flash when they are not in the right position creating awful spots on the picture. After a lot of practice, getting over frustrations and studying their pictures with Pepe after the sessions, they managed to take mind-blowing pictures! We really admire our students, because some of them had never used a camera before.

During the week, we did a pool photo session with models for the students. Pepe, J3 the dive master from the dive centre and I were the models. We thought modelling was an easy job, but now we have more respect for underwater models. It’s not easy to look pretty while you hold your breath and open your eyes not really knowing where the camera is going to be, but at the end our talented interns made us look pretty enough!

We did some more fun dives on the weekend and we organised a trip on a luxury catamaran with the interns and all the volunteers of Love the Oceans. We sailed around the estuary and stopped on a beautiful island where we had water sports included. We did some skiing, surfing and tubing and we ate burgers and had pina colada cocktails next to the pool, what a weekend!

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On Monday. we dove in the morning. We went to Extacy Reef and later we played in the waves to practice more wide-angle photos. It was so much fun and we could hear the whales singing every time we put our head underwater. This is just magic for everyone. The pictures turned out well and it was good practice for our ocean safari that we did the next day.

There was bad weather coming and the dives were cancelled, so we went to the local school to help the volunteers from Love the Oceans to paint and to play with the kids. It feels amazing to help to create a better world and to spend some time with the most amazing kids I’ve ever met. They live a simple life where they create their own toys and use their imagination to have fun, just the way childhood should be.

We went to the ocean safari next day. Since the beginning we were so lucky because we saw a leatherback turtle and a shark at the surface. We played with a pod of dolphins for about 10 minutes and we swam with a humpback whale and her baby! This was the best day of our lives for many of us, we were screaming and dancing on the boat on the way back.

As all good things come to an end, the month in Mozambique was over. I couldn’t believe how fast it went. All our interns left very satisfied with a very good level of underwater photography and amazing pictures to show.

I still think that this is a dream I don’t want to wake up from. I will be enjoying one more month in this beautiful paradise and I just know it’s going to be magical. Why not join us?

-Ariane Robinson

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