Monday, 12 April 2010

Leaving Durban

So after almost two weeks swaying among the sugarcane, living out of bags and diving in blue water, it's time to go home. This has been quite a journey. In all meanings of the word.
The interest for my freediving courses up here has been tremendous, from surfers, to spearos, to water gazers who want to become water users. Advanced days have brought past pupils back for deeper dives, and on shark dive days I've dragged some reluctant, some fearful surfers into sharky waters, to see their eyes and hearts open to these majestically misunderstood fish.

Photo: Allen Walker

And as you all know, for me, it's all about water. Blue water. Black water. Cold... warm... flat... stormy... on a board, with fins, without fins... or just swimming.

But not this time.This time, it was about people. Myself included.
It's been a tough two weeks. I've felt myself challenged in ways I haven't been for a long time. I've felt small, lost, sad and vulnerable. The confusion of being so incredibly happy, fulfilled, surrounded by so much beauty, and just wanting to crawl into a deep crevice and hide there. Luckily the crevices at my disposal have been guarded by people who love... love me, love others, love sharks. People who love. So yes, this trip has been about people.
A couple of highlights:Last week Wed the 7th, I went to a HUGE banquet at the Durban ICC, where 4000 people came together to show their moral and monetary support for LIV- Lungisisa Indlela Village.
The Banquet, I have never been to such a moving and HUGE event... in every way.

The heart-project of friend and big wave charger Twiggy's parents, Joan and Tich. These amazing people have seen a solution for the gigantic challenge of orphans in Africa, and tired of watching this tragedy unfold, they have built LIV- a village for orphans and women, a sustainable future, full of hope. It was such a privilege to be there, I cried, laughed... felt the magnitude of the challenges our country faces, and was reminded to HOPE! If you want to learn more- AND YOU SHOULD, please check out:

And then there is Wolf. Wolfgang Leander is a man I have known for two years, I say known, but I only met him once two years ago in Struisbaai, where we were united in a dream to freedive with Great White Sharks. Neither of us did, on that trip. But we were equally excited to have met each other, and since then a heartfelt, if geographically challenged, friendship has developed. Wolf lives in Bolivia, and spends his time and money on Tiger sharks... wherever you can dive with them, Wolf has been, will go to, or has been to, and is returning to. And when you see him diving with them, you understand why. This man GETS Tigers... like really GETS them. His love for them is palpable... in his eyes, in his words, and when you see him underwater interacting with them, you know. This is true love. With his so-damn-old-it's-retro-cool 35mm stills camera slung around his neck, he hangs around at about ten meters, waiting for his striped ladies to come in, strokes their bellies, snaps pics of their gentle eyes and comes up out of breath and fulfilled. I love diving with him, he inspires me to keep loving the sea and her children as I do.

Thank you Wolf.

Wolf and I
Photo: Allen Walker

But it's time to go home. Cape Town is where I need to be. I have a week there. Before coming back up this way for a Wilderness Trail in a game farm. 5 days on foot in the Wilderness, what an experience. But for now, the Mother City needs to hold me close for a few days, I need to rest.


  1. Hanli, you are truly inspiring :) Thanks for giving us your time, skills and passion to be able to do something we'd never normally do. And Wolf...what a legend!

    Till next time


  2. heej ! åh va fantastiskt...och du skrev det här igår. vill höra mer allra käraste hanli. jag har just kommit hem från en skön vecka med tilman i paris. nu kommer jag bli i stockholm fram till juni. om jag inte hälsar på i egypten förståss..!
    ska du ut med peter nu eller ? wilderness ? vi kanske kan höras imorgon förmiddag,
    alltså onsdag. pussspusspuss, m.