In a rut? Do something EXTRAORDINARY.

The Zodiac...not easy to get into, or over the surf!

The Zodiac…not easy to get into, not easy to get over the surf!

A few years ago, I saw a BBC documentary that prompted a life reinvention. The documentary was about two marine biologists living in Tofo, Mozambique, studying Manta Rays and Whale Sharks.  I was captivated by the Mantas…I had never seen one while diving or snorkeling before, only through binoculars on the surface of the water.  Having already had some experience with Whale Sharks, I was also extremely interested in their ecology.  The scientists, Dr. Andrea Marshall (aka Queen of Mantas) and Dr. Simon Pierce, were studying these species which at that time were so abundant in Mozambique waters. (Sadly, the populations are now significantly impacted by unsustainable fishing practices). Their organization is Marine Megafauna Foundation.

I began searching for dive trips where I could do some volunteer work, even to just do fish counts. All Out Africa ( had a program working with Whale Shark Identifications and fish population counting in Tofo, Mozambique….helping with the whale shark program I had seen on the documentary!  I thought, why can’t I do that?  It was for adults, not a high school or college program or a gap year, but for adults.  My family had a few reasons they did not want me traipsing off to Africa by myself, and I suppose there were some good reasons among them, but I made the decision to go.  I booked my trip.

Our washing machine...ourselves!

Our washing machine…ourselves!

It appears crazy, absolutely nuts, to pick up and head off to Africa for 6 weeks by yourself, to live in an unpopulated area where there are no doctors, and the closest thing to a town, Inhambane, was at least an hour away.  Was there a Decompression chamber in case of getting “the bends”, or decompression sickness?  No. The closest one was in Johannesburg.  Not a hop skip and a jump away.  The message? Don’t get sick.

So off I went, a midlife woman with a passion for diving and animals, off on my very own adventure. It was the best gift I ever gave myself.  I was tested physically (I’ve had two back surgeries and a few other physical limitations), and I was tested mentally… the experience empowered and helped me understand my abilities in an entirely different light. The trip was challenging, the environment both exhilarating and disturbing, and certainly the living standard was not what I was used to.

My first Frogfish!

My first Frogfish!

Diving in rough water was a new experience because the currents and surges off of Mozambique are strong. The water is cold.  It took me a few dives to get comfortable, and my first two dives were pretty awful.  But, I adapted. I learned. I stayed in a house of volunteers, sharing a bathroom with the house and a bedroom with a roommate, and ended up with some close friendships even though I was the oldest one there, most of the volunteers being Europeans in their twenties. I have seen these friends since the trip, we keep in touch, and we have enjoyed diving together in other locales. I also went on another “citizen science” trip just this year, to Ecuador. I can’t wait for the next one. There will be more “citizen science” trips in the future, count on it.

(I blogged about these experiences, you can find them in the categories “Adventures in Mozambique”, “Dive Adventures in Tofo” and “Diving Ecuador”. )

A trip to Villanculas

A trip to Villanculas

moz 12 cb baby

We entertained children from the orphanage at the beach.

Have you ever wanted to do something you thought was “out there”?  Do you have a desire to get out into the world and make a difference?  There are volunteer programs all over the world for adults.  Most of them have nothing to do with scuba, and there are plenty of them on all continents. I have some advice for you:  be bold. Why not look into it?  Eco-tourism, volunteer tourism, will take you to places you’ve only dreamed of.

Let’s face it:  if you dream of doing something, you’d better do it now. Tomorrow is promised to no one, and in midlife who knows what is coming next?  Do something Extraordinary for yourself, you won’t believe how empowered it will make you feel!

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About the Author ()

I am an avid scuba diver, underwater photographer, amateur historian; interested in all people and cultures. For me, the unexpected is usually the norm! My motto? I am an Empty Nester who likes to Renew, Revamp, and Reinvent Life!
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  1. In a rut? Do something EXTRAORDINARY. | All Out Africa | February 13, 2015
  1. “Life is nothing, if not a daring adventure!” Helen Keller And your motto, I dare say.
    Carol Cassara recently posted…Making peace with my hometownMy Profile

  2. Donna says:

    I love it…I have been toying with the idea of finally living my life…thank you for the inspiration that some are doing it!!
    Donna recently posted…Mountain Ridge Little LeagueMy Profile

    • Tam Warner says:

      Don’t toy….do it. There is always a way, right? That’s what I always tell people, anyway, about everything from jamming luggage into a car (it will go, if there’s a will there’s a way!) to swimming with sharks. Go for it.

  3. I so admire those who set out on the volunteer tourism gigs. What a fabulous way to make a difference (and get super cool shots of frog fish in the process… what an odd creature!!).
    Lisa at Grandma’s Briefs recently posted…10 life lessons grandchildren help us rememberMy Profile

    • Tam Warner says:

      I had searched for a frogfish high and low in all of my diving, but never saw one until the one in Mozambique. My dive master had me so over-weighted I almost fell on top of it. Glad I didn’t, it is SO awesome!

  4. Tammy says:

    “Tomorrow is promised to no one” … no truer words were ever spoken. No, I’ve never longed for an adventure of this kind. But I have longed for others, and I’m making it my life’s work to live them out loud. Loved the pose, Tam.

  5. Roz Warren says:

    I hate adventure, and will do almost anything to get out of one. But I enjoy reading about the adventures of others, especially when illustrated with cool photos. That frog fish is something else. Is it alive??

  6. Great post, Tam, and what an amazing adventure you had. For the past couple of years, the word “do” was my word for the year. It made all the difference, and I think I’m going back to it next year!
    Lois Alter Mark recently posted…marriott’s oceana palmsMy Profile

  7. Now I have Bob Dylan’s song about Mozambique in my head. Uh-oh, that’s going to spin around all day.

    I love your mantra, your spirit and everything about your travels. You are one amazing woman and when the finances turn around a bit – look out world! Here we come again.

    Also I always, always, always love your photos.

    Are you going to BAM?
    Cathy Chester recently posted…How To Create A Brilliant List To Maintain A Brilliant LifeMy Profile

    • Tam Warner says:

      Thank you Cathy! I didn’t know Bob Dylan sang about Mozambique…have to check it out! No, I haven’t done any of the conferences yet…a little nervous, I guess, and I can’t leave Randy while he is recovering from this CMV virus. You know how that goes!

  8. Love this post and your photos! I am leaving today for my second volunteer vacation –first one was a reef preservation project as well. We just loved it!
    Ruth Curran recently posted…Play a Photo Game, Tell a Story, Fire Up Your Brain!My Profile

  9. You are my hero, so brave. I probably would travel anywhere to volunteer but not sure I could dive. Awesome pictures, the baby is so beautiful.
    Doreen McGettigan recently posted…Writing Wednesday/ Book PRMy Profile

    • Tam Warner says:

      Yes, very pretty baby….the babies were sad, sad, sad. They had no “affect”, made no noise, sat or lay still. You don’t have to dive to volunteer! You could work with babies, people, elephants, etc….

  10. Murph says:

    Awesome life motto, Tam dear!
    Volunteer for something you are passionate about – get up and off the couch and make a difference! Thanks for your forever motivation! You GO girlfriend! M

  11. Love love love this! Sounds like you went on an amazing adventure. What a wonderful story and what a great way to get out of a rut. 😀
    Stephanie Dube Dwilson recently posted…Are the powerful woman characters on TV really so great?My Profile

  12. Z says:

    This was a great piece, Tammy. I enjoy reading about how you live your life & aspire to do the same in the near future. NEAR future, lol. Until then I shall vicariously live through you.
    Z recently posted…Michelle Obama Made Me Do It!My Profile

  13. Tam Warner says:

    Thank you so much for posting my ALL OUT AFRICA adventure! I’d love to do it again!

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