Sunday, March 13, 2011

Whale Sharks and My Life as a Rap Icon

So in yet another example of how my life must inevitably converge with that of a rap music superstar, let me start with a shout out to the peeps that showed me love during a dark period of my blogging career. (You will notice that there hasn’t been much in the way of posts in the last few months as I have been moving back to Washington and trying to arrange a life there – but I am on the road again – don’t call it a comeback!) To the Traveler Within and Stuff Ex Pat Aid Workers Like – who singlehandedly quadrupled my site traffic by linking to my blog story about me doing something vaguely illegal with my UN passport. So many people read SEPAWL that for a week or so I was getting daily messages – sometimes from people that found me in the company directory – that I had “made it.” And also to MV, mahbrouk! Congratulations on getting your country back and I wish you (and all the Egyptian people) the best on the rocky road to democracy.

Okay – back to my regular life. I am in Kenya this week working with the stats bureau, but decided that it was in the best case for everyone’s sanity that I duck out for the weekend with the Former Roommate (famous from last year’s Drive and Dive adventure) and Roommate’s Wife for a weekend in Diani – on the south coast below Mombasa. We left Friday after work, and despite all acting about half our ages by having rum and coke and Pringles for dinner then drinking heavily all night, we made it to the docks of East African Whale Shark Trust, at the crackin’ hour of noon and still munching over very-responsible pizza breakfast, to spend the day tracking whale sharks in the Indian Ocean.

Whale sharks are giant elusive fish that are notorious in the world diving community for having just passed through whatever locale you are at the week before. I had seen one once off the coast of southern Mozambique, but it had become a bit of an aquatic holy grail for Former Roommate. This trip was going to provide a good chance though. The boat was supported by a spotter in a light aircraft. Basically we floated around in the slowly rolling waves for long stretches of time until the spotter came on the radio shouting the location (1 kilometer off your three o’clock!) at which time everyone hit the deck as the captain gunned the engine. Once at the location, the guide spotted from the bow, then yelled for everyone to get in the water – at which time the shit circus really kicked into high gear. Grabbing snorkel gear and jumping every which way off the boat to hit the water before the whale shark dove out of sight – splashing, kicking and otherwise gorging fellow snorkelers – you landed in the water just in time to see the massive fish sail off into the blue and start kicking frantically after it. Totally worth it though. These babies are beautiful. Graceful and docile from having a brain the size of a walnut rattling around a body the length of a city bus, then sail right under you blissfully. The guide actually tagged one of them for research purposes (using a truly medieval looking spear gun) and this thing didn’t bat a flipper. We spotted seven of them over the course of the day, getting into the water with six. And, despite the last drop in being in the middle of a stinging plague of blue bottle jellyfish, an excellent time was had by all.

And eschewing the typical rap icon private plane and Cristal, we opted for Kenya Airways and mango juice for the trip back to Nairobi. And instead of a Glock, I bought two seven foot Samburu spears. Should you not hear from me again it is because TSA has sent to me one of its black op prisons.

P.S. I am, as a bonus for the ladies, attaching a partial photo of the alarmingly attractive "rescue swimmer" attached to the crew of our boat, his somewhat questionable judgement in tattoos aside.


Dennis said...

Thanks for a wrapup that your former roomate couldn't provide as descriptively as yours. Mr H.

L A L O said...

Nice shots :)
Didnt get the tatoo shape or figure, what is it?