The day began as every other day in Tofo, Mozambique. The sun began to rise just before 5am and the first beam of light came through the window, past the curtain blowing in the sea breeze, and hit my face at 5:35am. After rolling over a few times to dodge the expanding beam of light the persistent sun convinced me to start the day. It was 5:45am and the sun was already bright and disorienting, light penetrated throughout the entire house. I opened the door as gently as I could and tried to step over Charlie, the dog who sleeps at my door, without waking him on my way to the bathroom to shower and start the day.
Still wiping the sleep off my face to look in the mirror after the shower, I could hear Dolly, the little terrier, prancing down the steps from the loft to greet me. Upon opening these groggy eyes, I could see the line developing for the bathroom with Elliot, my friend from University, and Richie, Elliot’s friend and the owner of the home, waiting patiently with coffees already in hand.
While eating a bowl of granola with soy milk, an indication of this life of luxury they were providing, we calmly went through the talking points of our morning discussion including number of dives, conditions of the ocean, any surf, who is making dinner, what’s for dinner, a beer in the market after work? Once the boxes were checked Elliot and I walked two minutes out to the main road and at 6:40am we were picked up by one of his coworkers and piled into the back of the pickup and were off to the dive shop.
As the employees of Tofo Scuba went through their morning routine of opening the shop and preparing the gear and boats for the dive clients, I made my way through the bustle and out to the beachfront restaurant to stay out of the way. In the restaurant with a toasted egg sandwich in hand I watched the waves come in, all the while calculating how long I would be able to hold the sandwich down before sea sickness would take over out on the water.
At 8am, Elliot’s dive instructor safety briefing was complete and we began walking down the beach ready to push the preloaded 9-meter inflatable sided boat, for our two sequential dives, out into the water. With a tractor behind us pushing the boat through the sand stronger than the waves crashing ahead of us, the five divers and two instructors managed to launch the boat and we all heaved ourselves aboard just as the skipper fired the dual engines to bring us to our first reef of the day.
Since the diving conditions are a bit challenging in Tofo, we were instructed to take a negative entry to start the dive. The easiest way to describe a negative entry is by imagining how a boat full of Navy SEALs would enter the water. Our instructor, while using a GPS, counted down the meters to our drop spot. With 20 meters remaining we were instructed to put our masks on and hold our regulator in hand. With 10 meters remaining we were instructed to put our regulators in our mouth and prepare for the count down. Elliot gave us the three, two, one, go! And we all rolled back off the boat at the same time and immediately began our decent to the ocean floor 30 meters below. Once oriented in the water we found the dive line Elliot was swimming to the bottom and we followed it down to ensure we did not lose the group in the current. Once reaching the ocean floor we checked in with our buddies and the instructor to give the OK sign before following the current along the reef beginning the dive.