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Another Island – The Tenacious Travelers

Location: Ilhe de Ibo, Mozambique, Africa

December 23, 2011

My plane lifts of from Maputo, flight north east for two hours before touching down in Pemba a city in the very north of Mozambique, not that far from Tanzania. I get of the plane and am met at the gate and taken to another building next to the main terminal. Here is where I will catch my transfer to Ilhe de Ibo I am told. 20 minutes later I am boarding a seven-seater plane and we take of, just me and the pilots, talk about a rock star experience. Below me is the turquoise blue water of the Quarimbas archipelago, tiny islands do the ocean and sailing boats (the Arabian Dhows) ply the waters between then. 25 minutes and we are landing on the dirt runway on IBO, after a low pass to scare the cattle off it first of course.

I am met by rob and taken to Ibo Island Lodge, in a renovated old governor house the lodge stands proudly out against the water, flowers bloom over its walls, the swimming pools sit in the green gardens guarded by palm trees. The roof terrace has magnificent views over the beach and channel so to watch the dhows come and go and the general beach life. This was my setting for three nights.

I did two walking tours around the island, one focusing on the multitude of old colonial buildings, some with their art deco beautiful still evident through the years on neglect, old customs houses with their decretive iron fences still stand grandly against the main square. The old Portuguese fort still stands guard over the harbour entrance, small but with a good vantage point it proved effective over the years.

The other tour was to see more of the cultural side of the island and we walked around the village and saw the well and the fishermen with their catch of the day and the women with their millet paste face masks to protect them from the sun. The art of the silversmith was brought down hundreds of years ago with the Swahili traders and it is still carried on today, men sit in the shade making tiny decorative filigree jewelry, so small it’s hard to believe they can see that.

For breakfast one morning we went out to a sandbank that is only accessible when the tide is out, so we arrived a tent and table was set up while we snorkelled, and we came back to a breakfast table waiting for us with our freshly cooked breakfast on it, then after we sailed back aboard our dhow, enjoying the ride of a boat under sail. It was a very lovely experience, much posher than I am used to, I rarely have lobster for diner or my bed turned down and the mosquito net unrolled and tucked in.

On the way back, we were in a small four-seater, so the other passengers and myself asked the pilot to fly low and he obliged sometimes skimming the water at what felt like a meter above, right close and around the islands inducing screams of a mixture of excitement and terror, great fun though. Then it was back to Maputo, tomorrow I leave with Lisa for South Africa and our Christmas adventure.

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