Friday, February 3, 2012

Here I am, across the world...

Hi all,

I’m almost there! I am currently sitting in the airport in Nadi, Fiji, and figured I would use the time from my four-hour layover here to do a little bloggin’. Earlier today (or yesterday rather, since I crossed the international date line) I flew from Seattle to LAX, had a three hour layover there (which ended up flying by due to multiple long lines), and then boarded a massive double decker plane that took me from LAX overseas to where I am right now... beautiful Fiji. Kind of bummed I don’t have an opportunity to stay and enjoy this place, but since I’ll be in Aus so long I am sure I’ll take some time to travel back here and enjoy the sun and warm Fijian surf. The flight from LAX here was surprisingly quick- 10 hours total, but unlike past flights I have taken overseas, I slept almost the entire time. Thank goodness for ear plugs (and yes, I know those of you who are making fun of me right now for my obsession with ear plugs)! There were even a few babies and young toddlers near me on the flight, and not one of them made a peep until breakfast was being served. Overall everyone around me was super quiet... the guy sitting in the window seat didn’t even get up to pee ONCE. I couldn’t believe it. Normally I am a window-seater, but this time I ended up in the aisle, and maybe there’s something to be said for those good old aisle seats. I’ve never slept so peacefully on a flight before. Anyway, that being said, I am feeling pretty good right now and ready to take on one more leg to Sydney. Once I arrive in Sydney, I’ll have the afternoon to explore (or sleep), one night at a hostel there, and then on up to Townsville tomorrow. My new roommate, who I know virtually nothing about, is planning on picking me up from the airport in Townsville tomorrow, which I am super grateful for. I met her (Pip) through a connection at Madison, of all places. My friend and amazing T.A. from limnology lab senior year, Matt Kornis, had recently met a woman who graduated from James Cook (JCU-where I’ll be studying) and had taken a job at the Center for Limnology in Madison, where Matt used to work. She happened to have a friend who was still in the Coral Reef Studies Ph.D program at JCU, and who needed a new roommate off campus. So, I was introduced via e-mail, exchanged a few messages, and was convinced by Pip’s friendliness and generosity that this would be an awesome place to move in, even if it only turned out to be temporary. It sounds like there is a nice bike path along the river to campus, the house is across from a supermarket, and it is also located relatively close to beaches and “The Strand”- the main area for bars, boardwalk, and all things beachy (and touristy, most likely). So hopefully it all works out, but I’ll definitely keep the housing updates coming.

Whew- I spoke too soon in Fiji. After about three hours of my layover there I started to feel beyond tired, to the point of being nauseous, and then was informed that the flight was delayed by an hour or so. Not exactly what I wanted to hear, but I ended up getting through the wait by reading more of my favorite shark book. Once we finally boarded, I got so nauseous on the flight that I ended up throwing up, which was totally weird considering I am usually completely fine when it comes to flying and pretty much all other means of travel. I’m thinking it could have just been a combination of gross plane food over two days and being so tired my body just couldn’t handle it. Who knows. But either way, I made it here to Sydney, grabbed a shuttle to my hostel, and luckily was able to snag a private room for myself. I usually enjoy a bit of mingling here and there when I stay at a hostel, but after that much travel I was just so ready to have my own space. I actually ended up exploring a good portion of Sydney today on foot- it was raining, so nice and cool for a long walk. I headed toward Darling Harbour from my hostel and stopped in Chinatown for some takeout and a pineapple pastry from this amazing little bakery I found. $1.80 for the best pastry I think I’ve ever had, plus some damn good chicken satay takeout to bring back to the hostel. Not bad, not bad at all. I walked through a bunch of different parks and gardens, eventually reaching the waters of Darling Harbour and Cockle Bay. A big portion of the city sprawls around this area, and although it’s obviously a huge touristy area (super nice restaurants, expensive shopping centers, etc.), the water provides a beautiful backdrop for the enormous buildings. I have to say, even though I am not a huge fan of really big cities, Sydney is one of my top five cities. Everything is just so green, clean, eco-friendly, diverse, and surrounded by water. Sounds a lot like Seattle, huh? I guess you could say I have a type.

Oh, almost forgot the most adorable couple I met on the shuttle to my hostel. They were both probably in their mid-seventies, white-haired and slightly hunched over, and both had been married for 45 years when their spouses passed away. The woman was from a small town in Wisconsin, and the man was from a southern state, but had spent a good portion of his life in the air force and teaching for the ROTC also in Wisconsin. They decided to try online dating a few years after their spouses had passed, and found one another’s profiles right away. This was eight years ago, and after realizing they both had dreams of traveling the world while their health was still good, they decided to get married. The woman went back to school for her business degree (just for the hell of it, she fully acknowledged that she probably won’t be able to do anything with it at this point) and spent the past four years pursuing it online, during which they drove over 60,000 miles in their RV, all around the continental U.S. They then decided to take a 20-week trip around the world, with each week spent in a different place. I came across them just after they had finished up Hawaii and Fiji, and were now spending a week in Australia followed by a week in New Zealand. They were the sweetest, most worldly couple I have ever met... their stories made me hope that everyone out there who never had the opportunity to travel abroad gets to do so, and learn a whole lot about themselves and their relationship to the world.

Alright, what next...oh yes, my last few days in Seattle were just what I needed... they involved a rainy run with Brian, Alyssa, and Worden through Lincoln Park, which of course is one of my all-time favorite places in Washington, some good quality time with P90X’s rockstar Tony in my room, just to say goodbye, wonderful dinners with my wonder-of-a-cook sister, goofy brother-in-law, and crazy little nephew, and a last meal of Bakery Nouveau’s signature pizza and an almond croissant (thanks to Brian for that one). It was a sad goodbye to Alyssa, Dave, Will, and Worden in Seattle, but luckily I have the most amazing sister in the world, and Alyssa made me a sweet little journal with pictures of me, Will and Worden on it so that I can write down my Aus adventures to be able to read them to Will when I am back in the States. She also gave me an amazing silver necklace with some sentimental sisterly words on it... made the departure a little easier, but of course added some extra tears. I was lucky enough to get one last ride to the airport in BP’s good ol’ Xterra, which is surprisingly still alive and kickin. The goodbye there was... well... lets just say it wasn’t a walk in the park.

Well, that’s pretty much all for now- love to all of you back in the States! I can’t believe this whole grad school thing is finally beginning.. it’s been a long time coming, so I’m doing my best to enjoy every single moment. BUT, that doesn’t mean I don’t miss all of you at home. Updates soon- and the next one will come with pictures, I promise.

Love, av

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Ze Great North (or, our snowy road trip from SEA to MN)

Road triiip!

Hello hello, I am a little late with an update on our trip across the Great North, but better late than never, I suppose. Our initial plan was to take Brian’s Xterra from Seattle to MN, spend a few days with John and Candy V in Minnesnowta, have Brian’s brother fly into Minneapolis and then he would continue south from there with the bro to Florida to move back home for a few months. I would then fly back to Seattle with a couple days to spare for packing and saying goodbye before heading to Australia. However, we started feeling some funky little hiccups coming from the ol’ Xterra whenever it was idling, and a few other weird clinks and clanks here and there, so we got a little worried it may not make it all the way. Plus, Brian wasn’t sure he was quite ready to leave Seattle just yet, and a room opened up for a month or so at his friend Annie’s AMAZINGLY cool house in Ballard (think rooftop decks, bamboo everywhere, huge backyard, treehouse, and pottery studio in the back). So, we hatched an alternate plan to pack up Scoobs (my silver Honda Civic) with all my life possessions and make the journey west in him instead. This way, my parents wouldn’t have to fly out in the spring, smush all of my belongings into Scoobs and drive him all the way back in MN for me. We’d also get a pretty epic road trip in together before I had to take off across the world for school. And last but certainly not least, Brian would get to see Minnesota in all it’s negative temp, freezing windchill glory (ha...ha...ha).

We stuck it out in Seattle throughout the snowstorm of the century (which, of course, shut down the entire city for two + days), and a lovely follow-up ice storm, just in case the snow wasn’t enough. Luckily though, the day after the freezing rain came down a warm front showed up and everything started melting really fast. We took off on a Friday when the roads were heavy with slush and soft ice. When we got to North Bend, only about 30 minutes along the way, we realized that all of the gas stations were down due to loss of electricity except for one, which was running their generator. People were lined up for gas, filling not only their vehicles but two or three containers on top of that. It was pretty much mayhem, but we filled up and got out of their quickly. Due to the snowstorm and warnings about the pass being pretty treacherous, we decided to buy chains the day before just in case. It turned out we probably didn’t HAVE to have them on, but for safety’s sake we stopped alongside the road with all the semis and chained on up. We were slow rollin at about 30 mph for a good 20 minutes, and although we felt a little sheepish as the four-wheel drive SUV’s blasted by us and we crept along the road with the semis, there were a few spots that looked like they would have been pretty dicey without the chains. We took them off right after the pass and then finally got on our way. Driving through the mountains has always been one of my favorite things, and we had no lack of beautiful views driving from Seattle west through Montana. We went through two or three more significant passes over the next two days, but luckily the weather stayed nice for us and we didn’t run into any real roadblocks. We did, however, have one pretty scary evening driving to our hotel in Livingston, MT. Just after dark we hit a whiteout snowstorm that left us with sight only of the white line on the side of the road to know whether we were still on track or not. The snow was swirling in every which way, and at one point we realized there was a towering cliff to our left and a massive drop off to the right. We had no idea we were coming into another mountain pass, and it was probably the last place we wanted to be driving when our visibility was only about five feet. It lasted for only 24 miles or so, but it took us over an hour to get through. But, we made it, and it made for a good night of sleep in Livingston. And of course, we felt after all that that we earned ourselves another huge continental breakfast waffle in the morning (or in Brian’s case, two).

The drive continued to get more interesting as we continued through eastern Montana, thanks to a random stop off at an exit that said “Pictograph Caves”. We never made it to the caves, due to an icy steep road, but we parked and took a beautiful walk over the hills. We climbed a fence, got some cool pictures from the bluffs, and even fed some horses that we encountered on the way back. They were fuzzy with their thick winter coats and some of the most beautiful, docile horses I have ever met. One of them let me feed him some raisins, and we stayed for awhile, letting them munch on some hay from our hands (probably not what their owner wanted, but we had to). Definitely one of the highlights of the trip. After the horses, we continued on through the northeast tip of Idaho and onto South Dakota. We decided that since we were staying in Rapid City, which is only about 30 miles from Mt. Rushmore, we should make the quick trip. We started off our third morning by heading to the four famous heads in the rock. I wasn’t expecting to like it much, since I assumed it would be chalk full of loud tourists (ok, not unlike me I guess), but it turned out to be pretty amazing. The scale of the rock carving is just so crazy... even the pupils of the eyes are like, four feet tall. Plus, we were the only ones there, which made it very quiet and serene. After we had our fill of Mt. Rushmore (and, admittedly, figured out that the fourth head was Teddy Roosevelt and NOT the president we though it was- oops), we continued on through SD. I wasn’t expecting much from South Dakota, but thanks to Brian’s obsession with maps and route planning, we took an amazingly beautiful detour through the Badlands. I had never known what this area of the Midwest consisted of, but I had heard they were beautiful. It honestly was like we had stepped out of the car onto Mars. The landscape changed immediately from yellow, flat grass fields to miniature mountain ranges of red, black and orange rock dusted with a fine layer of bright snow. Every place we stopped throughout the Badlands continued to get more and more beautiful with brightly colored rock, thousands of slopes and cool patterns of shadows down in the valleys below. The best part was that we were once again the only people there... apparently it is a very, very good idea to go to these parks in the offseason. Plus, the snow and bright blue sky made everything contrast beautifully. I felt so lucky to be in such an amazing place with someone I had become so close to and who appreciates this sort of thing just as much as I do.

Post-Badlands driving was, unfortunately, the most boring portion of the trip by far. Brian fell asleep for a couple hours while I drove, and I honestly think the only thing I saw the entire time he was asleep was yellow grass and maybe a silo here and there. Oh, and an owl. I saw an owl swoop in front of the car for a second, so that was exciting. And then it wasn’t again. For a long, long time. BUT we finally made it into Southern Minnesota, hopped on 35 and headed north toward good old Apple Valley. I think we finally pulled into my driveway around 1:30 am, which was just about what we expected after not leaving the Badlands until 3 pm or so.

Of course I had to give Brian a mini tour of the house first thing after arrival, and as we did this the Murph Man woke up and noisily came to greet us. He peed a little bit from excitement, slobbered on me to say hello and then promptly had to show off his stair ball skills to Brian. Oh, Murph. Always a character. Over the next few days he factored into our daily routine by acting as “X factor” during our hockey games (he would jump in and try to steal the ball from time to time), leaving behind some nice poo piles on the sidewalk that Brian’s shoe happened to pick up and bring along to the Science Museum, and continue to nuzzle up and wipe his lovely smelling drool alongside one of us at all times possible. Gotta love him.

We spent a good amount of time shovelling an ice rink on Alimagnet, playing some Holland vs. Italia broomball and hockey (shout out to Candy V for the sticks and mini soccer ball), eating lovely candlelit dinners (again, thanks to Candy V) with mom and dad, cozying up to movies in the basement, and checking out each and every activity, including two omnitheater productions, at the Science Museum. We spent our last day at Pepin with the ‘rents and Murphy, and although it was a “wintry mix” of slush and snow coming in sideways from the lake, we still managed to get out for a walk around town and show off some of the quirky elements of one of my favorite places in the world. And of course, Florida boy put up with it all with a smile on his face and a good attitude toward the cold temps and snow.

So it’s a rushed and late account of an amazing road trip, but I had to throw it in there before the rush of Australia news. Here are some of the pictures we got throughout the trip... credit to Brian and his mom’s old film camera for the vintage looking ones. They’re my favorite.

Our random exit stop in Montana

My favorite of the horses. He was the only one who wanted my raisins.

These guys were so awesome.

Cheesy Mt. Rushmore shot

Our first glimpse of the Badlands

On Mars

My favorite

The bright blue sky made the colors in the rock look amazing

Home on the range

BPauts on a big red rock

Credit to BP for this awesome shot

Team Italia

Ice cream in our coffee AND they have a caboose outside?! Can you find a cooler little place than that? I don't think so.

This is what we do to Floridians who visit Lake Pepin.

Thought that was a good one to end on... that’s all for now- I will follow this up with an update on my arrival in my new Australian home as soon as I have a chance. Love to all!

Friday, January 6, 2012

I'm baaack!

That has probably been the title to about a dozen other blog entries of mine, considering I usually reappear to update this thing about once every six months. This time, it's been almost a year. Oops. BUT, now that my life is soon to involve some exciting new developments, I promise I will be much better about keeping up.

As most of you know, I will be moving to Townsville, Australia on January 31st to pursue a master's in marine biology degree from James Cook University. Townsville is a small coastal city with a population of approximately 186,000, and is located along the northeast coast of Australia. It is also within easy boating distance from the central portion of the Great Barrier Reef, and is only 8 km away from the beautiful Magnetic Island (popular for wildlife, beaches and reef diving). It is considered to be in the "dry tropical" region, which means that their rainfall is, on average, less than that of most tropical regions. The average temp in winter is 76 F, spring 85 F, summer 88 F, and fall 85 F (this will most definitely be my biggest challenge, as trying to study in these temps might be the end of me). It sounds like there are plenty of outdoor opportunities to experience, including some of Australia's best wreck and reef diving, great kayaking, paddle boarding, rock climbing, and national park wildlife viewing. So, sounds like it could be my kind of place! Now we'll just have to see if I can survive being a full-time student again after nannying and working at humane societies the past three years :) Here are a few generic pictures of places in and around Townsville...

Rock pool at "The Strand"- main beach/boardwalk area in Townsville

Townsville beach stretch

Road along Magnetic Island, 8 km offshore from Townsville

A beach at Magnetic Island

As for what I have been up to since I arrived home from South Africa, well, as most of you can probably imagine, I moved back in with Alyssa and Dave while I was trying to figure out "the next step" (why do I feel like those three words have been haunting me since the day I graduated college?). The next step at the time was to secure another well-paying nanny job with a family in West Seattle (who, of course, I grew to love), keep pondering over which programs I should apply to this year, and of course fantasize about having the opportunity to once again get in the water with the sharks. I once again received a letter from UW Seattle's marine bio program saying that I was "deemed admissible", but that I needed to secure an advisor and funding before I would officially be accepted into the program. After about ten phone conversations with various professors and Ph.D's in the program and closely related to the field, it became very clear that A. there is little to no funding available right now for conservation projects at the master's level, B. Advisors already had hit their capacity or gone over by 1-2 students, and C. If I didn't want to devote the next five years to sitting in a lab in Seattle and working for a cranky old shark man, I should go elsewhere for my degree (this was told to me by a Ph.D student whose advisor is the only "shark" person at UW, is apparently extremely unhelpful to all of his students, and who is anxiously awaiting until the day he can retire... all pretty unenticing qualities in a potential advisor). So, I decided that after two years of the same info from UW, it was best to remain patient and hope for good news from James Cook. And, lucky for me, one morning I awoke to a brightly colored (of course they have to go with the tropical theme as the background template) acceptance letter from JCU, welcoming me into their master's of marine biology program. I had said over and over again to friends and family that even if I got in, I was so in love with Seattle and everything here that I might not end up going, but the minute I received the e-mail I knew instantly that I wanted to pursue this opportunity. This has been a dream of mine for over eight years now, and not taking advantage of this offer would be one of the biggest regrets of my life. So, I shared the news with friends and family, and have been preparing for the big move since.

In addition to finally figuring out "the next step", I have been spending a lot of time nannying for a wonderful family with two children, Maya, who is six and in kindergarten, and Noah, who is almost two and an absolute angel of a little boy. Their family is Indian, Philipino, Malaysian, and Thai, so I have been lucky enough to experience a few new cultures through food, bits and pieces of different languages, and some interesting family customs. Mostly, though, they are just like any average American family and don't hide their love for pizza, big plastic toys, cheesy kid cartoons and trips to the aquarium. They have been very good to me, and of course I will miss them when I head out. I feel so lucky to have nannied for three unique and wonderful families with amazing kids over the past few years.

I was also fortunate enough to meet a gem of a boy through my intramural soccer team, the High Five Hurricanes, and have been spending a lot of time doing fun day trips around Seattle and also some adventuring in Florida (his homeland). Unfortunately a severe sprain to my knee limited my biking, rock climbing and running until just a month or so ago, but we managed to fill that time with lots of hiking, kayaking, road tripping and just all around fun-having. Brian is also figuring out "the next step", and after a year with Americorps here in Seattle, has recently moved from Washington back to Florida to enjoy some surfing, biking, rock climbing and kite surfing near his family. We are hopeful that our individual "next steps" may eventually lead us to the same place.

Family life continues to be as entertaining as can it not be with the sister-lawyer-mom who conquers all, the goofy but loving brother-in-law dad, and the sister-in-law creature nanny living in the basement? Oh, and don't forget the toothy munchkin man who resembles a cuter version of Charlie Brown and the forever-moping stallion of a dog that increases his claim of the couch by an additional centimeter every day. We continue to fill our evenings with family meals, generally centered around Will's daily adventures, post-dinner dance parties, and playing "restaurant" (this is what Dave calls it when I clean up after him every night). We have been enjoying the snow with lots of snowshoeing and general snow adventure outings. More kids have joined the extended friends crew, so there have been a number of crazy get togethers here involving pumpkin carving, Christmas cookie decorating, and even sparkler-twirling on NYE. It will be extremely hard for me to say goodbye to my Seattle family for awhile, but I know good things are to come, and I know I'll be back.

So, I think that's about it for now. A whole lot more has happened, but it's always so hard to fit everything in. I would end up going on for hours and hours, and nobody wants that. So hopefully this was a good lil summary of the past year or so for everyone who is interested :) I will be much better about updating once things start in Australia... that is, of course, if I am keeping up with my classes and whatnot. But I promise I'll do my best!

Love to all of you and hope you are enjoying the beginning of a wonderful new year! Here are a just a select few of my favorites from the last six months or so...

Family photoshoot at Lincoln Park, West Seattle, February 2011

Will and I enjoying the warm Florida waters for Candy V's 60th surprise birthday celebration

My summer beach volleyball team and I at Alki Beach (we won the league!)

Most of the fam at my best friend's wedding (Amber Lee Otis!)... such hot, sweaty, Midwest summer fun

Incredibly fun weekend visiting my Kimmy in Chitown! Great reunion with old Badger friends :)

One of my favorite places in the world... loungin on the boat on Lake Pepin, WI

Annual Trout Pits camping trip... love these kids!

First trip to the Oregon coast! Gorgeous.

One of many amazing views from hikes around Seattle.. Rattlesnake Lake from about two miles up, on Rattlesnake Ledge

One of my favorites of William Woo :)

Amazing day of hiking near Enumclaw

This picture needs no explanation.

Sunset walk on Vashon Island

Hiking and trailwork day at Cooper Lake... another day of unbelievable weather

Out for my 26th birthday with my good friend Yolanda and others

Awesome sunset kayak from Lowman Beach

Gorgeous photo op during our sunset paddleboard session in Marathon, FL

Beautiful Kelly Lake at Christmastime

Reunited with some faves in av!

Me and the little man enjoying and gorgeous sunny snow day!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Back in Action

Well well well, here I am again apologizing for not keeping up with blogging. I could keep making excuses, but this time I have no good ones so I will just admit to being lazy and impatient with all the typing and uploading. BUT I am back in action and going to try to commit to writing at least once every two weeks- not only to keep friends and family informed about my wanderings through life, but to keep myself on track with what direction I'm headed in :)

I think the best way to cover the past few months is to upload a few (well, a bunch) of my very favorite photos from Cape Town and Mozambique. Of course these photos will never be able to encapsulate my entire experiences in these unbelievable places, but I'm hoping they'll do a somewhat decent job of giving you a little glimpse into what was an absolutely amazing, unique, emotional, challenging, eye-opening and life-changing experience. I met so many people that I will never forget, I learned an incredible amount about the ocean, the species I love, and the threats facing South African wildlife, I was able to dive amongst some of the worlds most beautiful creatures, and I experienced cultures in both Cape Town and Tofo that were beyond what I could have ever imagined and that taught me so much about the world and myself. I can't begin to describe how grateful I was for these experiences and how much they will lend to my future. I fully plan to head back someday, whether it be for graduate school, another internship, or simply an extended vacation. Both Cape Town and Tofo are such incredible places... I am one lucky lady. With that said, here are some of my favorite photos from the last four months or so:

Myself and a few friends before a freeeezing cold wreck dive in Hout Bay

Cool shot of a distorted-looking White from the boat

My Canadian roomie and great friend, Gen

My favorite sea creature :) Junvenile White shark with a rusty hook and line in its jaw.

Me and Gen in Mozambique, first time around. Amazing, warm, crystal-clear water.

The 'rents and I on a game drive at Inyati Game Reserve. Unbelievable experience.

The hippo that emerged from the river right next to us. This guy was hilarious.

Sundowner drinks at a watering hole during our evening game drive

One of many rhinos we were lucky enough to see up close and personal

Male leopard tracking a female to find her cubs in order to kill them so he could mate with her. This guy was on a serious mission.

Male lion eating a young female buffalo, killed by his pride the night prior

Out on Animal Ocean with my favorite Stevo and the fam. So glad they got to meet!

GoPro image of Boulders, where the penguins are. Love this little camera.

Lunch at a beautiful winery, Mont Rochelle, in Franschoek along the Garden Route

Shot of the water and beautiful sandstone at De Hoop Nature Reserve

There were tons of these guys washed up along the shore at Buffelsbaai.. lucky to find this one still alive and moving around in a little inlet off the beach

Cool rock formation at a small secluded beach in Plettenberg Bay

One of many gorgeous sunsets at Llundadno Beach... miss this so much.

Llundadno.. easily one of my favorite places in the world to watch a sunset

Andreas and I at Signal Hill after a windy day hike

Sunset from Signal Hill.. can't be beat.

My little Canadian roomie Jaime and myself before heading out in Cape Town for NYE

My Swedish roommate Karin and me taking a dip at the gorgeous waterfall that was the end to an unbelievable hike in Tsitsikamma National Park

Karin and I about to watch the sunset in Plett

Gorgeous view from a hike near Plett

Yet another unreal sunset at Llundadno Beach. Ahhhh, Cape Town.

View from our hostel in Tofo (second time around)

Casey and me diving in Tofo's crystal waters

My favorite Tom Pound showing off his cool new outdoor shower. At least the water worked in one shower of the house!

Sunset over the swamp area behind Tom, Zoe, Casey, Cassie, and Wade's place

My American buddy Jason and I before a night out in Tofo

Love these people to the moon and back.. so much fun

Happy as can be in my seal suit

Myself and some of my favorite buddies at Fatima's in Tofo.

Jason and I perfecting our beach bum skills

The end of the beach in Tofo near Casa Barry

Local fishermans' boats that they take out every morning at the crack of dawn

English Casey and I at their new Divemaster digs in Tofo

One of my favorite people ever: English Rich. Hilarity.

Myself and another wonderful Englishman. If interested in anything marine/conservation related, check out Aaron's underwater videography/photography/filmmaking/magazine writing at his website: (won't let me load a link here for some reason) He has some really incredible stuff.

Some crazy kids at our unbelievably delicious braai

Cassie, Wade, and Nick, the lovable Tofo Scuba DM's

Sunset in Moz.. can't get much better than that.

Well, I guess that's about it for now. Like I said, these pictures don't come close to doing this experience justice, but they give a little snapshot of the last half of my time in Africa. Hope you enjoyed them! Seattle updates soon to come :) Love to all!