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Diving with the Navy in Mocambique

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South African in Canada
Oct 21, 2002
A seagull wheeling overhead screams its approval of the tight ranks of sailors, gleaming in their immaculate whites.

The warm breeze caresses the crew mustered on the foc'sle, and carries the unmistakable scent of tropical Africa - musty from the red earth, sweet and alive.

The young Seaman momentarily forgets his preoccupation with not smudging his perfectly polished white shoes, his face oddly distorted in their reflection. Glancing to starboard as the huge icebreaker negotiates the cluttered harbour entrance, he is amazed to note the masts of numerous sunken ships littering berths adjacent to the dock. A particularly large seagull is perched fatly upon the radar array of one the sunken vessels - judging by the mast, a naval vessel he notes with a disapproving frown. "Atten-shun!" the Officer of the Day thunders as the ship is piped by a South African Minister class strike craft, already comfortably alongside. The quatermaster returns the compliment with an equally shrill pipe, whilst with perfect form the Lieutenant sharply cuts his salute.

"It's the most amazing peri-peri chicken you'll ever have, bru!" exclaims the tall, blonde Able Seaman. "And they've got South African beer - lekker cold too man!"
The dusty streets were littered with debris and small children. The sailors were hounded by the kids - scatterlings of Africa - orphans, victims of the past conflicts in the area. Their grubby fingers left marks on the white sharply creased trousers of the sailors as they tugged, each trying harder than the previous to get noticed. Dirk clicks his tongue in irritation and after attempting to shoo away his new disciples in faltering Portuguese (that only evoked toothy grins and a few shrill laughs) resigns himself to tossing a few coins in the dirt. The tattered youngsters fall upon the coins in a tangle of limbs and an explosion of interjections. The group of seven Ratings enter a bar - identifiable as such by a stained wooden sign erected above the doorway.

Cafe Mundo's is favoured by South African sailors for it's extra cheesy pizzas, spicy Portuguese style chicken and cold beers. The interior is a bit barren, but the lack of ambience is soon aptly compensated for by the roars of laughter from the sailors within the gloomy interior. The thirst of having been at sea for a week is soon slaked by cool beers - "Castle" from home and the Mocambiquan "Raiz".
A few hours later and the sailors jovially removed ranks, mustering badges and belt buckles to adorn the walls and serve as a memorial to their visit. A cap gets passed about for signatures, and the Seaman chuckles through an inaebriated mist whilst he signs the cap "Admiral Dave was here!"... caps are not keep in stock onboard ship and the badges are a nightmare to sew on... whoever donated this cap would regret it in the sober light of the following day. Dirk swung his large frame toward a shipmate and swung his arms wildly in the air to emphasise a punchline and promptly fell off his stool, lying giggling like a little girl on the crusty floor. As they unsteadily get up to leave, the Seaman notices for the first time his cap his no longer on the stool beside him where he left it... his eyes are drawn to the freshly defaced cap on the wall... "awww shit!"

Outside the sun was sinking and the African night approached...

to be cont...
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