Diving in Zanzibar

In Life Is Short, Postcards From..., Travel by David18 Comments

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After two weeks in Zanzibar at the end of what’ll be almost 6 weeks in East Africa, we’re packing up to head home. From beginning to end it’s been the trip of dreams. My time in Lalibela, Ethiopia, was like traveling back in time. Safari with Cynthia and my mother was a trip of a lifetime and it’ll take me a while to put that one into words. And then to come here and spend two weeks in the blue, getting my scuba certification after over 20 years of putting it off for fear, was the icing on the cake.

I brought with me a Sony RX100(II), easily my favourite pocket camera, and a brilliant water housing with a wide angle lens, both of which were a joy to use, but talk about a learning curve. Making photographs is hard enough at the best of times, but to do it in 30 to 60 feet of water while trying hard to remember to breathe, remain neutrally bouyant, stay somewhat upright, and all of that while avoiding things that sting, cut, and bite, had me laughing so hard at times I thought I’d spit my regulator out. A great deal of fun, but much, much harder than I imagined. Easier, though, than using the larger DSLR gear under water, which is all more responsive, but also bulkier and harder to manage.

Huge kudos to East Africa Diving who took brilliant care of us. Thanks too, to Hans and Zakia from The Beautiful Eyes gallery in Stone Town, for spending a wonderful, unexpected day with us, and showing us the back alleys of such a fascinating town. Next time, Pemba!

And now home to begin what will be the longest stretch I’ve gone without international travel in more years than I can remember. I’ve got another surgery on my foot on February 19th, still trying to fix things from the fall in Italy, and then it’s several months recovering and rehabilitating it. I’m already dreading the cabin fever but the time at home will give me time to catch up on reading, writing, printing, and tucking into the pile of neglect that inevitably builds after so much travel. We’ll be announcing the Vancouver Created Image weekend soon, so keep an eye open for that, and Issue 06 of PHOTOGRAPH is almost hot off the virtual presses too. See you when I’m home! In the mean time, here are 3 of the photographs that best express my feelings about this amazing new world I’ve discovered through scuba.

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  1. Heath

    Now the challenge is to keep diving! One of my biggest regrets is that I did my PADI certification course 7 or 8 years ago (for free!), and have never dived since.

  2. Duncan Fawkes

    Sounds like you’ve had an amazing trip David. Love Zanzibar and Stone Town. And well done on getting your PADI. I love that 2nd shot, with the little fish – almost like bubbles – connecting the darkness to the larger fish seemingly circling the sun. A picture of hope. A cracker even ignoring your relative newbness at underwater photography!

    Safe trip home. Good luck with the surgery, and swift recovery.

  3. Stephen

    I found scuba diving incredibly difficult (I’ve only tried it twice). I earn much respect for the ability to control energy to allow for slow breathing while using a camera through a massive face mask.

  4. Ben

    Wow. We had our honeymoon in Zanzibar in 2004, it was amazing and seeing your pictures brought back some wonderful memories. Hope you had a chance to get pizza at Mercurys in the harbor! Thanks for the trip down memory lane.

  5. Marke Blue

    Sounds like you’re “fearing” the cabin fever – may you overcome it as well as you did the scuba diving! Quite an amazing trip you’ve had; best wishes to you on your continued healing. Looking forward to all your future contributions of thought and imagery to come out of time at home with time on your hands.

  6. Tom Kostes

    Safe travels, heal quickly and here’s hoping you don’t suffer too much cabin fever while recovering!

    Reading, writing and printing…. there are worse things. 😉

  7. Hans Agterdenbos

    Thanks David,
    For your nice words, following you for years, being able to spent time with photography soulmates even in the back alleys from Stone town felt as ” VAN ” tells us “having contact with our higher self”.
    Yes! next time Pemba.
    Be well

  8. John Batdorff

    Looks like you had a trip of a lifetime. I wish I had an opportunity to take a trip with my mom prior to her passing. You’ve made memories that will vastly outweigh any prints that you could ever bring home. Congrats on a trip well deserved.

  9. Anna VanDemark

    Hi David,
    I have enjoyed all your trip posts and images. What a magical, memory making adventure! Thanks for sharing.
    I hope that your surgery goes well. Sending you healing blessings, also.

  10. Scotty Graham

    Glad you got to experience taking photos underwater. I have been doing that for 35 years….often us underwater photographers don’t get the respect we deserve….it is no easy task and totally different than taking photos on land. Good job with your first underwater images!!

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