September 5, 2015

Comoros: not cruising 101

looking over the 14th century medina at dusk
 From the perspective of dealing with officials, Comoros has been challenging. There are no set fees and every official you meet has a (rather aggressive) hand out. If we hadn’t already checked into a number of moderately challenging and quite poor countries our first impressions of Comoros may have been enough to make us flee. The one thing all the boats here agreed on is that Comoros isn’t a beginner’s destination.

wandering the alleys of the medina
The thing is, after you get past details like the fact there’s no official garbage collection (much of it is burned at the edge of the sea or dumped into ravines), pointing and yelling are part of basic communication, and the French spoken here doesn’t sound like the one you learned in high school, Comoros is exactly the kind of destination that most of us set off to find.

From the way the wind smells like y’lang-y’lang and the streets are scented with cloves, to the bright colours the women wear and the way the kids wave from dugout canoes Comoros is almost a clich√©. The market is vibrant, the medina is intriguing and the people are quick to smile and laugh (and return your change when you overpay and walk away.)

The goodness continued when we headed to the national park of Moheli. Looking like Komodo or the Baja we were greeted with clear blue water and hills that just begged to be climbed. Instead—with only a handful of days to explore, we spent time in the water where there was good (but chilly) snorkeling and receiving boat-to-boat delivery of lobster, fresh fish, octopus and produce. We could have spent weeks exploring. Even the sunsets were sublime.

Utopia II at sunset

a 14th birthday party to remember--the kids partied on the boat while we were exiled to the beach
 The funny thing is I met a tourist today who was completely overwhelmed by Comoros. He thought the town was too dirty, the alleys in the medina were too crowded and the people seemed shifty. Meanwhile, I was on my final walk through—trying to soak up all the smiles. Trying to lock it all into my memory.

Maybe this only calls to some...
Maybe you do need to be ready to visit a place. Not just ready in having a passport and the right shoes—but prepared to accept a country for the way it is. Comoros is dirty and crowded and poor. And it’s beautiful and friendly and colourful. It’s a perfect cruising destination and a difficult one. It’s a place I’d recommend with my whole heart—but only if you’re ready.


Back Porch Writer said...

Interesting read. Just found your blog today while searching for some travel blog writers that write often. I think I will follow and will enjoy reading of your travels.

Diane, Evan, Maia and Charlie the cat said...

Thanks so much for stopping by! I hope you'll be back.