Monday, December 17, 2012
Ilha de Mocambique
The past month or so I've been steeped in the social scene. Life has been go go go and as romantic aspirations have cooled into dissapointment, the moon of friendship ever rises.
There's been much carousing. I've essentially been on vacation. Everything in its right place.
I traveled to Ilha de Mocambique with the sunshiney Alexandra Breedlove; she who accompanied me on the mythic hike to Gurue's Garden of Eden.
Ilha de Mocambique is an incredibly strange tourist destination flung far up the Mozambican coast - a coast stretching the distance of Quebec to the gulf of Mexico. On the 5am to 2am bus it felt like Nampula, our destination, drew further from us the closer we drew near.
Immediately I began to notice the more Muslim population. The call to prayer was broadcast over the streets.
As Audi and I awaited our hot bus for Ilha, we called one food vendor after the next to give us good food. Fresh breads, boiled eggs and salt, fresh apples, cane sugar coca cola...and then the prize...BREADFRUIT. I spied him with the thing on his shoulder. We call him over. I'd heard of breadfruit but never tried it. How much? I say: 'make me a better offer.' 160 he says. I say '150.' It's a deal. A green stippled fruit the size of a small toddler is pushed through the window. Our neighbors are amazed. These whites hunger is insatiable! We baptize the breadfruit 'Mr. Greenbean' and take photo ops with him in groovey sunglasses. We depart for Ilha. Audi and I have lots to catch up on. We climb into a large open back to cross the long jetty connecting the island to the mainland. The locals admire our fruit fit to feed a village.
Ilha de Mocambique was the former capitol until the Portuguese moved it to present day Maputo. It was the point on the Portuguese's spear of Manifest Destiny. They shipped slaves from it, protected the trade routes to India from it, and built an enormous fort that resisted every attact.
Atmosphere oozes out of the rocks. As a colonial ruin, it is a World Heritage Site. As a place where you can snorkel in crystal waters, take a dhao boat trip to nearby islands, or stroll through the ancient fort, it is a tourist destination. But 98% of the small island's population lives like the rest of the country on a dollar a day, making their livlihood; taking life as it comes.
These people would be forced to leave if it turns too touristic. Because the island is difficult to reach, it maintains a rural mozambican feel. Submerged shipwrecks surround the island, sunken by cannonball or reef. The town uses all the old broken china and blue glass that washes up on shore to decorate restaurant bars and confection jewlery.
My favorite activity was snorkeling off the end of the port where we saw fish as colorful as those gracing the most exotic travel brochure. Audi and I stayed with Patrick, a marine biologist and PCV English teacher.
Together we continued from Ilha to Audi's home in Angoche. We had a fire on the beach under a full moon and swam in the Indian Ocean's warm waters. The next day we celebrated Halloween by making our own costumes. When the power went out, we played beer pong by glowstick light.
I began the slow ride south towards Beira staying with friends along the way. My last trip to Machanga, I went out to run one last time with the children going further then ever before. I gave away most of my things. I can't have much on me as I travel through Europe.
Now, I'm on the plane that is taking me out of Africa. I'm reminded of other imporatnt flights marking the book ends of my life. 16, leaving my family behind to live in Brazil. My flight taking me after high school to enter Americorps.
I'm finally finished with the Peace Corps and most curious about what life will bring next. Please stay posted!