May 3rd, 2009

wayfaring wordhack

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.

Collapse )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.

And speaking of anniversary surprises

 The night before leaving for my SURPRISE trip to Moheli, I took L, of this post fame, home after a dinner together at a local restaurant. Just before getting out of the car, she said, "I hope you have better weather in Moheli than we did, and that you enjoy yourselves."


You'd think she'd be more careful after spilling the beans once, wouldn't you? I guess the same could be said for Julien...