The Wayfarer (mnfaure) wrote,
The Wayfarer

  • Mood:

I'll take another 8 as happy as the last, thanks

For our 8th anniversary, J took me to Moheli (Mwali in shikomori) one of the neighboring islands in the Comoros archipelago. According to those who know about such things, Mayotte looked much like Moheli as little as 20 to 30 years ago and what it would probably still look like if not for the island's decision to remain part of France.

On Moheli, there's one, one-lane, ill-tended road going around the tiny island, only it doesn't go all the way around. Rusting, sagging maintenance and construction vehicles litter the roadside, many of them strangled by indomitable vegetation. Trash collection is not a service provided by the "central" government, nor individual communities, and most waste ends up in quickly-dispersed mounds on the beach. I never once saw rubbish being burned or buried or sorted--except by animals. Instead of grazing in fields or along roadsides, instead of munching green grass beneath fruit trees, livestock, chickens, and magpie crows mill about, scratch, and alight amongst the spread-out waste, picking at banana peels or other edible castoffs.

The mountains that make up the spine of the island are steeper than those of Mayotte, covered with dense forests and more reminiscent of the sharper, exotic peaks of Reunion Island. The villages are mostly on the coast and are primarily composed of mud or woven-palm-leaf huts, with a few completed cinderblock buildings thrown in and many, many unfinished skeletons of more modern housing.

The people are very friendly but terribly poor and neglected by their government in matters of health, work, activities, and sanitation.

Even though their clothes are in tatters and they seem to have little in way of possessions, the Moheliens didn't appear to suffer from hunger. Restaurants, however, are not a common part of the culture, and finding anything to eat but a tiny piece of fish and plantain bananas and manioc is rare. Oh, except for the rather bland, heavy cakes that are appreciated by Comorians. Desserts are not their speciality. The aforementioned bananas and manioc, as well as rice and breadfruit, when it's in season, are the common staples. When there is meat, it's mostly fish. The bird flu killed off many of their chickens.

 Contrary to Mayotte, zebus are not numerous on Moheli, but there are a lot of goats and sheep, which are eaten on special occasions, like weddings or religious celebrations.

And donkeys! I don't think I've ever seen a donkey on Mayotte, but there were lots and lots in Moheli. In fact, these two donkey pictures pretty much sum up my contradictory feelings about the island and trip: 

(I don't think this little guy is still living. I saw him on the first day
but he wasn't there afterwards.)

Moheli is probably on the same poverty level with Madagascar, but whereas I was prepared to face it in Mada, in Moheli, it came as quite a shock. It was unthinkable to me that I could consider a return to Mayotte a return to "civilization," but that's how I felt leaving the airport once back on Petite Terre.
Tags: anniversary, moheli, pics

  • I used to...

    ...take and post a lot of photos. Just scrolling through, looking for a photo I posted during our Mayotte days of our coconut grater--which I…

  • And these, for her, forever will be Egypt

    Masses of colorful bougainvillea and the fragrance for frangipani will forever remind me of the Maldives as that is where I encountered them for the…

  • A moment on my mind

    For weeks now, I've had a particular moment on my mind, moment that centers me and brings me calm. I don't know why it has been my constant…

  • Post a new comment


    Anonymous comments are disabled in this journal

    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened

    Your IP address will be recorded