A small jewel of an island in the Comoros archipelago


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Africa » Comoros
June 23rd 1999
Published: February 5th 2013
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MiremaniMiremaniMiremani

Hair braiding
June/July 1999

Bonjour Madame…welcome to our island!



Moheli was a sight for sore eyes after my unpleasant experience of seasickness and nearly losing my husband. We were approaching calmer waters, far better for my constitution. Having sailed from Grand Comore throughout the night, as dawn broke we decided to trawl for some fish before we got close to the island, for our dinner that night. Shortly after that we heard the familiar zing and Jacques was the lucky one to catch a Wahoo of generous proportions. Not bad for a morning’s work!



We anchored at Sambadjou beach near Miremani and it felt like there was a welcoming committee waiting for us. We were soon approached by the ‘Gendarme’, wanting to see our passports and giving us instructions where we had to have them stamped – right on the other side of the island at Fomboni! We did some sweet talking and we asked how we could get there and was told there was very limited transport with the so called ‘taxi’ doing a full circuit of the island and it would take almost a whole day to do the trip to Fomboni and
MiremaniMiremaniMiremani

Escourted by the 'Gendarme'
back, but we could roam around the island and once we had our passports stamped, we just had to come and show them. Shortly after that Elize, Lomé and I were asked to go with them, so we thought we were going to be interrogated. Once again language was a problem as French and Comorian are the main languages and I speak neither of them, although Elize could make herself be understood in French. We followed apprehensively, but was presently surprised to find out that they very proudly wanted to show us around their small village, then they proceeded to introduce us to the Mayor of the town who was having a meeting with some other delegates, and then we were free to carry on with our holiday. Such friendly people and we felt very welcome on their humble portion of the island. The island was so beautiful, with some areas seemingly untouched but closer to the main towns or villages one noticed people have left their usual mark with subsistence farming as well as farming with ylang-ylang, vanilla, coffee and cocoa bean.





As we walked through the small town of Nioumachoua we heard the
Sambadjou beach Sambadjou beach Sambadjou beach

Welcoming party
sweetest voices chanting ‘Bonjour Madame, Bonjour Monsieur!’ around us. We were often followed by an entourage of children, fascinated by these tourists. Once again we were shown around the town by the inhabitants, who were so friendly. They didn’t see many foreigners and were so happy to show us their village. We tried to catch a taxi to Fomboni but they seemed non existent. Later we discovered there was only one taxi per day, to do the round trip of the island!







Trip to Fomboni



We sailed to another bay near Nioumachoua and found a small holiday resort owned by a Frenchman, who offered to take us in his car to Fomboni so that we only needed to catch the taxi back, thus saving us some time. This was also a good opportunity for us to stock up on some fresh produce as there was a small market in the town.



We all sat in the back of the utility vehicle and once at Fomboni had our passports stamped then walked around the market, buying supplies and soon it was time to head back to Nioumachoua. The
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Local fishermen
taxi consisted of another utility vehicle with two wooden benches on the back. We were the first passengers on. First we needed to fill up with fuel, so we stopped at the ‘petrol station’. Where were the petrol pumps? None visible, but there were some bottles filled with fuel, which was duly poured into the vehicle. A bit more time consuming, but that’s island life for you! This was a sure indication that there aren’t many vehicles on this island.



We were under the misconception that taxi would be fairly empty, but each time we stopped more passengers climbed on and not only would there be an addition of passengers, the taxi would be loaded with chickens, goats, bags of rice, flour etc. Eventually Paul, Willem & Jacques were hanging off the side and the back of the taxi because it was so full. Philip was mortified when one of the ladies sitting next to him, put her hand on his leg to balance herself while we were swaying around the sharp bends on the narrow roads of Moheli. He looked at me, most astounded that a stranger would do something like that and I had to
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Moheli bungalows - one of the few tourist spots on Moheli
hold my pose and not burst out with laughter. One of our most memorable taxi rides ever!







Witnesses to a food chain.



We spent our days sailing and walking around the bays, villages and islands of Moheli. We completed our advanced diving course, having done a wreck dive off Grande Comore, a night dive, underwater navigation, a deep dive and a boat dive. One on occasion we were contemplating going on one of these dives when we saw a smallish fish leap out of the water close to us. The next moment there was a larger fish chasing it and shortly after that a huge body leapt out of the water after that one! Not sure what the biggest one was – fish or shark, but afterwards we were told by the villagers that we were mad to dive there as the fishermen had seen the biggest sharks in that area. Needless to say, none of us were keen to dive after that.



Some of the areas we dived at, we were disappointed in as the coral was destroyed, whether it be by bleaching from El Nino
NioumachouaNioumachouaNioumachoua

Walking through the village
or blasting from dynamite fishing (artisanal fishing methods).



We never made it to Anzjouan as we simply ran out of time. It was difficult to get around the island as there was so little transport and it took a big chunk out of the day and there were plenty of smaller islands to explore and dive at. As for Mayotte, we were warned that it was not safe there at that time, so it was better to avoid it. There had been a coup d’état in April 1999, just a couple of months before our visit, but there was still a bit of unrest on that island.



That part of our holiday was so different to a resort holiday and once again we were fortunate to see what we did as it gave us a small insight of everyday life on Moheli.





Next stop: Back to Grande Comore!


Additional photos below
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NioumachouaNioumachoua
Nioumachoua

Majestic trees
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Nioumachoua

Beautiful view
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Nioumachoua

Quaint little house
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Moheli

Health education
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Fomboni

The market
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Fomboni

Close up of the market
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Fomboni

Waiting for the taxi, eating bread and cheese for lunch
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Fomboni

Is that the petrol station??
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Fomboni

Dry dock
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Diving

After the first night dive
What a whopper!What a whopper!
What a whopper!

The wounded fisherman, happy with that catch
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Nioumachoua

Duplicates - limited fresh water on board so time for a quick splash
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Moheli

Narrow roads and no taxis
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Moheli

Dried fish biltong (jerky), above the dive gear


11th August 2014
Nioumachoua

Comoros
I was reading some of your blogs this morning and ran across these. You've been to some amazing places.
11th August 2014
Nioumachoua

Truly fortunate
We have indeed been to some wonderful places in the world and it has been quite an experience thus far to write about them and it is wonderful to know that there are some people that enjoy reading about our escapades too. Thanks for reading and commenting on them.

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