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Diving in Mafia Island

Here is some video from the dive trip. It’s not my best video, but you do get to see a lot of what we saw.

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Mafia Island

We like to do trips for our birthdays. We’re more about experiences than presents. It’s how we roll. This year, for my birthday, it’s how we dove.

We went to Mafia Island, Tanzania. It’s a remote island that’s sort of part of the whole Pemba Channel. You get there via Dar es Salaam or Zanzibar.

The island is very eco-friendly, but we did manage to stay at one of the few places (maybe only place) with air conditioning. Say what you what. I like toilets and air conditioning. (There are a lot of mosquitos so air conditioned rooms allow me to sleep. Otherwise I will be bitten to death.)

The air conditioned place, Mafia Island Lodge, is a bit run down. It’s fine. I’d say average food. Service was good. The rooms were…okay. We had to change rooms because the first room had a broken air conditioner. Besides climate control, the other reason we picked the lodge is because Mafia Island Diving is there.

They are an amazing dive shop. Organized. Professional. Really nice. They know the reefs and they aim to please in terms of what you’d like to see.

We did a mix of shore diving and diving from their dhows. We did not do night dives this trip, but they do offer night dives.

I’ll post video later, but I did go through the photos we took. J. and I swapped back and forth from the GoPro and the small point and shoot camera. This was not a trip for DSLRs and and strobes. (Taking that on small planes is a real hassle.) As such, the photos are…okay. Some are better than others. You’ll see some back scatter (because we couldn’t control lighting) and some shots are slightly blurred (because of shutter lag).

See the photos. Look toward the bottom of the photos to see captions.

The Widow

The series The Widow on Amazon Video is getting a lot of chatter. Some people find it offensive. The people who don’t like it take offense partly at the dialogue, partly at Kate Beckinsale’s hair and makeup, and partly because they feel the story plays into the white savior theme. I disagree on most of this.

The one part I agree on is that the bronzer was a little heavy and that the ponytail was annoying on Ms. Beckinsale. But that’s it. On the important part of the story, I totally disagree.

I found the story and the characters nuanced and complex. If you know anything about current events in the Democratic Republic of Congo, you will know that much of the dialogue is realistic and that the story line is accurate as to what’s going on there. As someone living in Africa (albeit in Kenya), well aware of what’s going on in surrounding countries, with a husband who works for UNHCR, and having worked in financial inclusion (interacting with many NGOs), I can tell you that the story is spot on.

Furthermore, (especially since I’m not white), I know the white savior complex when I see it. It isn’t here. The filming depicted many aspects of Africa and did not go into poverty porn. Various characters put other characters in line whenever one character started to go into the wanting-to-save-the-world rabbit hole. It was realistic in storyline as well as dialogue.

One critic bashed the line “It’s so beautiful, but there’s such darkness beneath it,” as trite. Guess what. That line perfectly describes DRC. (I’m guessing many of the critics don’t know much about DRC.)

Watch the show for yourself. Did you watch it? What did you think? Let me know in the comments.

Diving Over Christmas

The visibility was as good as past dives in Watamu, but the diving was still good. Here are some photos and a bit of video (not my best) to show you some of what we saw.

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Review: Voi Wildlife Lodge

On the way to and from Watamu, we stopped in Voi. We wanted to take a break and make the drive a bit easier. We chose Voi Wildlife Lodge as the place to make our stop. Big mistake.

I don’t want to go into too many details as I don’t want to relive it. However I can tell you this:

  • Service was terrible on the way down. Their excuse was that no one was really around and so there was less staff.
  • Service was terrible on the way there. Their excuse was that the lodge was full and thus very busy.
  • Food was barely edible.
  • We reserved and paid for an air conditioned rooms. We did not get one either time. Didn’t get any real answer as to why either time.
  • The fan in the room didn’t help as the bizarre mosquito netting somehow blocked the air flow at the top.
  • There is no safe in the room nor are there adequate locks.
  • There is no Do Not Disturb sign so you can’t even request that housekeeping stay out, given that there is no safe.
  • It’s pretty easy to break into any room.

The place is a dump. Do not go there. Here are some photos to show you a bit of how bad it is there.

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Our uncomfortable bed

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Fan overhead…but the airflow is blocked

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Another view of the tiny room

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A note that basically says to expect to be robbed.

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This lead to an adjoining room. I did not feel particularly safe.