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Tourism: You Can’t Go Back

Coen van Wyk

Posted on August 31, 2018 13:46

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We tend to hark back with nostalgia to the places where we had been. Selective memories eliminate the bad experiences, but sometimes reality overtakes the good memories.

Bear with me, gentle reader, as I share some personal thoughts. For family reasons, and I hasten to add, not for pleasure, I had to spend almost two weeks in the tropical paradise of Mauritius. In short, my mother in law needed new curtains, so my wife, Shahnaz, had to come and help choose some. The sacrifices we make.

Winter is tough in the tropics


The opportunity presented itself to do some scuba diving in the same places where we had been diving these last 25 years. And while any dive is under the surface of the ocean is already great, these left a little after-taste.

Of course we arrive early at the dive center, and due to an unexpected number of clients Shahnaz was asked to lead one group. We decide to visit one of the well-remembered sites where a ship, probably trying to save itself from a tropical cyclone, had lost an anchor.

Some of the clients need help with their equipment and my cylinder is a little low, but then we go in. I prefer to somersault into the water, the momentary disequilibrium distracts me from the winter cold of the water, all of 23 degrees Celsius (73.4F). The tropics are tough.

Given the spring tides the water is not clear, but Shahnaz bombs down on to the edge of the reef. I follow the group more slowly, my ears need time to adjust. Someone indicates: Listen! And we hear the song of the two humpback whales that were seen yesterday, not far off.

Your scribe slaving over a hot keyboard


The majestic black coral trees on the cliff edge at 40 meters are magnificent, and I am content to wait here while the more hardy souls go exploring deeper. Then we begin to follow the reef back up towards shallow water. I monitor one of the clients closely. Apart from a shapely form she has an awkward swimming style, which might consume more air.

Acanthaster starfish



We count eight acanthaster, predatory starfish that destroy coral reefs. We stop to admire a beautiful Emperor Angelfish , a sea anemone with an attendant swarm of clownfish, and a school of fusilier fish. In a gulley we wonder at a pile of fallen black coral, all leaning in the same direction.

A brown moray comes to greet us, then disappears into safety. Now we are out of time, and begin the ascent back to the real world. We drift in the blue, listening to the whale song, counting the minutes of decompression, meditating on the fantastic world below us.

And then we surface, to be greeted by the sun, the wind, the sound of traffic on the coastal road.
 
Coming back to a place you enjoyed allows you to relive the pleasure, but I see the damage done to the reefs, and I wonder if my grandchildren will inherit anything. Global warming, nutrient runoff, sewerage spills, we don’t know the causes, but the reefs are dying.

Coen van Wyk

Posted on August 31, 2018 13:46

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Source: Daily Mail

The understandably nervous tourist was dicing with death at a firing range in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

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