Leaving Comoros...on the little boat that could
If first you don't succeed...
Comoros might be among the poorest countries in the world, but the best things in life are free - right?
It puzzles me how I'm nearly always treated better by people with nothing than by those who have. It puzzles me even more so that those who are really poor, and those who really have nothing, rarely ask for anything at all.
I'm really happy with how the Saga is progressing. It's not just a single thing. It's a lot of things which are going really well. Often people write to me and thank me for my efforts. Some find inspiration within the Saga while others enjoy learning about the world. While the geographical progress isn't always as fast as I want it, we are moving forward...and only forward. Each tic of the clock is a tic closer to where we are going.
Comoros does sunsets well.
The Red Cross Red Crescent movement is receiving a lot of visibility through the Saga and as far as I am concerned it's all positive. Something very important has happened in terms of my work for the Red Cross! Secretary General Anders Ladekarl made the decision that I could write my stories in English. He also gave me green lights for approaching the International Federation of the Red Cross (www.IFRC.org).
The Saga has been featured in the media across more than 60 countries in the World. This one makes it look like I'm traveling in the 1950s ;)
That combination has resulted in that the Federation is now posting my stories online for everyone to see. This is a big deal!! Throughout my visits at each individual national society, be it Red Cross or Red Crescent, I have written a story (not a report) about my visit and the general activities carried out by the national society. There are 190 national societies in the world. Most likely I have already visited the one in your country ;)
An example for you is this story from my visit in Malawi:
Seeing a garbage truck always reminds me that there is a sanitation system in place. And that is a good thing.
I really find that the countries of our World have been misrepresented. A lot of the misrepresentation is through the general media: Newspapers, television, radio etc., but I also find that we are a part of the problem. If you go on a vacation then you might let 100 normal looking cars pass you before you finally spot a car covered in smoke with a flat tire and the door almost coming off. As a result of finding that more interesting than the normal cars you might take a picture. That picture is then uploaded to social media...e.g. Facebook. You add a text like: "Look what I saw on my vacation in country X". Your friends will see it. But they might never go to that country. And your photo of a broken half arse car could leave a lasting impression of a country in someone's mind. Did you ever think about that? I think a lot about that! I think a lot about what I show you and what I tell you. Mainly because I want it to be representative of where I am. In addition to that I try to keep it positive - because where else would you get that ;)
These 3 wonderful ladies are from left to right: Elodie, Julia & Audrey.
The French Red Cross is active throughout the Indian Ocean. On my second day in Comoros I met Elodie and Audrey who are busy securing the region in case of natural disasters. That at least is the short version. Both of them are French and both of them are amazing. I ended up sleeping in a spare guest room at Audrey's place, which was perfect for me.
Raf and Annelies from Belgium where a couple I met at a dinner party last week. Since I was around Raf thought it might be nice for me to join them for an afternoon hike in the wild nature. We drove up the side of a volcano and left the car behind. Then we continued on foot. Great stuff!
Look again! That's not a bird...that is a bat!! And there are more hanging in the trees. Comoros is the first country where I have seen bats flying about in the daytime. Extraordinary. I love observing them :)
A bunch of expats where meeting up on the north side of the island during the weekend. I drove up there with Raf and Annelies for a Sunday getaway.
Did you expect anything less than this from a volcanic island in the Indian Ocean?
The truth is that I feel immensely guilty, when I do anything else than work on finding a boat while I'm on an island. Once I have secured a boat I'm free to plan my time for anything else. Ideally, I would arrive a Monday and secure a Sunday departure. But it's almost never like that unless there are ferries.
I spotted the "Mojangaya" on the day I arrived to Comoros. As it turned out it was leaving for Madagascar, but they wanted €130 to take me there. It was the regular price for everyone. The "Mojangaya" takes both passengers and cargo. The owners reside in Madagascar so I couldn't get in touch with them to make special arrangements. Soooo...pay up? It's so absolutely painful to my economy. I'm out here with a budget of $20/day and that budget has been taking some punishment lately. A good way to bring my costs down is to slow down. The slower I travel the more I save on a daily basis. But I'm already traveling on a 9 day/country average which should have been a 7 day/country average. The difference might not appear to be much. It's just 2 days - right? Well this project is 203 countries so that's 406 days extra. We are in any case looking at a 5 year project right now.
Sure, let the people vote. It's not their money ;)
Comoros is beautiful! It doesn't take much more than a set of eyes to see it. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder...that's what they say anyway. But it is really beautiful. Come on!! It's a volcanic island in the Indian Ocean!! It's absolutely gorgeous! You can't say the same for the country´s infrastructure...but the kindness of the population makes it for that ;)
As I said - Comoros does sunsets well. Really well ;)
I made the decision to pay the money and get onboard the "Mojangaya". The captain was a pleasant man and said that the voyage would take 40 hours. So I got ready for that. I said goodbye to everyone and we left out into the open sea. The sun set on us and after several hours there was a sound of broken engine parts which accompanied us. Eventually we turned around and came back to Moroni on the second engine. Thank the elements for having 2 engines! It could have gone a lot worse. But it didn't. After 7 hours at sea I was back with dry land beneath my feet.
The last thing I did before leaving was hand over my simcard to Raf. I wanted Raf to pass it over to Elodie at the French Red Cross so they had a spare. So now I used the captains number to call Raf so I could get my simcard back. Raf drove down to meet me at the port and give me the simcard. Then he suggested that I went back with him and stayed with him and Annelies until the "Mojangaya" was ready to leave again. Hmmm...sure? Why not? :)
So I spent an additional 2 nights at their place and then the "Mojangaya" was ready to leave again. We were about 12 passengers and I was by far the youngest one. The "Mojangaya" is a good ship, but she is small and moves around a lot. I took my motion sickness pills and stayed stable although very uncomfortable throughout the voyage. But an elderly woman was crouched up on the floor below a bench while throwing up where she was eventually going to sleep. You haven't really seen anything until you've seen that!
This was one of the less comfortable crossovers. I'm still sore. Try finding a comfortable position on a bench like this for over 40 hours, while the boat rocks from side to side? But we got there.
Food was...reasonable. It was mostly burnt rice with tasty chicken. It seemed to surprise the crew that I could eat that. I sometimes get the feeling that they think Europeans as myself only eat hamburgers and pizza? All in all a good voyage. But I was happy to see land after about 45 hours at sea. It's a special feeling when you see land in the horizon. Especially when it's a new country.
I love Baobab's. Their main characteristics are that they look like they've been planted upside down.
More about that next Friday ;)
Mr. Torbjørn C. Pedersen (Thor) - in a new country
"A stranger is a friend you've never met before"
Once Upon A Saga