Sunday, November 16, 2008

TOFU... fiesta and a cartel!

A day's travel from the north on a beautiful road. Many thoughts, sights and palm trees as far as the eye could see. Then, as the sun rolled in, we crossed the water to Inhambane.
A charming town with a thriving market part of crumbling but grand colonial architecture. A hub for transport. A place I would pass through numerous times over the next week and that really took me in. The cool street kids who accompanied you around . The old Indian lady who smiled and offered peanuts when you entered her shop. The best blue-cheese steak sandwich this side of nowhere.... complemented with a beer on the promenade.A walk, a wait and another hour on a bus. We arrived at our destination.

Tofu's a place people come to party and dive. Established both on the backpacker scene and as a holiday destination for young South Africans with their big 4x4's. A bunch of bars, huts, restaurants and campsites set back on the dune behind a golden beach and a pretty bay. A small town at one end, with dive-shops, liquor sellers and a tat market. This is the place recommended by people all over.

To the fiesta. We were ready to let our hair down after a month on the road. We frequented the main hangouts – from Fatima’s to Dino’s and Bamboozie. All in all I’d describe it as fun, but except for a fantastic night at the latter establishment dancing to impromptu jazz-type-stuff, not quite as raucous as I had been led to believe.

Dave has less memory of said good night...
Beyond the quite frankly annoying 19 year old overland crowd, the great thing about the place were the people we met. From Esti and the Maria, via a number of cool Mozambiquns who spend their lives chilling out round the bars, to more than slightly loco South Africans. A nice crowd with a far more relaxed and intermingled atmosphere than up in Vilankulos.

To diving....or more accurately not diving. The second we entered town, luck bit me in the asse. As we entered the first bar, who was there, but guys (one of whose names happens coincidently to be Guy) we had safaried with up in Zambia. What more, they invited me to join them, Robbo, Paul et al, in their mononpoly smashing enterprise....

Basically, Tofu is a little cartel of very good, but rather greedy dive shops who all agree their prices and rip off passers through. A couple of bays down the coast lie another dive shop, closer to the most famous dive sites and.....wait....charging half the price. I needed little more invitation on my budget and set off at the crack of dawn the next day on a standardly squeezed chapas.
What I found was wonderful people and the best diving of my life. Something to publicise and over the next week that is just what I did. In collecting other divers and whale shark searchers I reckon I lost the “cartel” well over $1,000. Add to that considerably more business drawn away by Robbo (Aussie dive master) and people would start to be annoyed. Let’s just say when a random came up to me and said “are you James” in relation to the cheap diving I guessed it was time to leave.

So to Baya dos Cocos and being eye to eye with creatures like this...
....more soon...but I have to leave with an image of true productivity. While I explored the depths, the Dave’s excelled in faff:

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