Inhaca Island, Mozambique
14.08.2010 - 15.08.2010
Inhaca is an island of 6,000 about 2 hours ferry ride from Mozambique. It is very small, measuring only 7.5 miles in length and 4 miles across. My journey to the island was pleasant, aside from the sporadic turbulence, and I struck up a conversation with a nice French expat currently living in the United States. He said that he was taking a tour of the lighthouse on the Northeastern tip of the island and asked if I would like to tag alone.
As the open truck surged through the countryside passing under palms and papaya trees, with tecno music blaring to alert unaware pedestrians, I glanced over at my new companion to convey my confirmation that we were finally off the beaten path. There are no paved roads, no ATMs, and the downtown, if one can call it that, is only distinguished from other parts of the island in that the buildings were minutely closer together.
We made it to the lighthouse and dismounted to follow our guides up a steep sand dune. The vista that awaited reminded me of the views that my best friend Ed and I often enjoyed during our long strolls within San Diego's Torrey Pines preserve. This beach was notably different in that the rock formations near the wave break resembled waves themselves. It is almost as if the rocks, tired of the tormenting tides, decided to form an equal and opposing force to counter the ocean's onslaught.
As we drove back to the Western shores, children would chase after the truck in an effort to become temporary stowaways. Some were even successful and then, realizing that there homes were disappearing in the distance, would jump off into the sandy road and laugh as friends chased after them and congratulated their successful conquest. Every single person we passed smiled and waved at us, some for prolonged periods of time. I brought this trend up to the guide and declared that everyone seemed really nice on the island.
He chuckled softly and said, "No, they are just excited to see white people."
Realizing that my guide had the better hypothesis in mind, I laughed and conceded to this honest observation.
The camp that I stayed at is operated by a nice Afrikaner family that offered me a plate of delicious mussels shortly after I arrived. I followed that up with a half of a chicken and then set off on another walk to explore the west coast of the island. To orient myself, I used the arrow that I usually use to find my bearing. The only problem was that the compass seemed backwards.
Based on my map and geographical features, I knew that I was pointed South. But the arrow that I was using said that I was pointed North. I ignored the compass and obstinately set off. Five minutes later, I finally realized that the compass wasn't necessarily wrong. I was on the other sides of the planet and, in the Southern Hemisphere, the poles actually flip. I chuckled to myself, thanked my physics professor silently and continued on down the beach.
I walked until the waves and the rocks were my only companions, about 2 hours due South (or was it North?) from my starting point. I decided that I needed to turn back to beat the darkness and was treated with a show of slow solar retreat, progressing through all shades of crimson until the last sliver dipped under the horizon.
The morning star appeared first into the then purple sky with others slowly making their debut as darkness dawned.
I arrived back at the camp, just after darkness had completely fallen, and the proprietor incredulously asked, "where have you been?"
"On a walk," I modestly replied.
"For four hours?" He pressed on.
"It was a long walk," I continued.
He, along with everyone else and the bar, looked at me crazy for a second, and I truthfully believed them for a short time since I had pretty much traversed the Western side of the island. As if reading my mind, he said, "well do you want something to drink then?"
I smiled on and nodded and joined them in watching the local rugby match on the television. As I sat there at the bar, me with a coke and a group of Afrikaner men silently gazing at the television beers in hand, I thought to myself, Saturday night really is the same around the world.
The wind kicked up that night and didn't quit until late the next morning. I realized as soon as I awoke that my hopes to go snorkeling were in vain. The white caps marched across the sea and kicked up silt everywhere. I cut my losses and went for another walk before the boat departed.
Since the boat came at low tide, we had to wade out to the boat in order to get back to our point or origin. The boat ride was great on the way back, and with how the light rays reflected off of the water's surface, I was able to take a few photos of downtown Maputo whose impressions seemed to be a harbinger of the apocalypse. I hope that I'm wrong on that one.