Underwater Archaeology

Reefs and Ruins on Mafia Island
By Karen Berger & Dan Smith
  |  Gorp.com
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He likes to ski, she likes to surf. He likes to hang-slide, she likes to heli-ski. He likes to drink beer, she likes to backpack.

I've got a bunch of friends whose vacation discussions make Felix and Oscar look like a harmonious pair. Dan and I, on the other hand, are blessedly compatible. With matching backpacks and hiking boots, we've rarely had much trouble picking a place to go.

But last year, when we spent five months in Africa, things got a little interesting.

Dan, a history professor, wanted to explore archaeological ruins along the Tanzanian and Kenyan coasts. That meant that every crumbling coral rock wall and every vine-strangled ancient mosque was on his itinerary, even if getting there meant chartering a plane, riding a donkey, wading through swamps or hiring a dhow.

I, on the other hand, wanted to go scuba diving.

Fortunately, there were places to do both, like Zanzibar, which had enough sites, both diving and historic, to keep us busy for a couple of months. But it was on lesser-known Mafia Island near Dar es Salaam that we learned that even the most seemingly incompatible interests could come together in surprising new ways.

Published: 28 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication
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