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Shawn Dispatch

A Taste of the Island Life

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Our dhow's tattered ragsail
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Abeja and I are sitting in a boat called a dhow. This one has a sail made of rags. A school of dolphins passes off in the distance, their fins popping out of the water every couple of hundred feet when they come up to breathe. Captain Mario and his son Mandela (named after Nelson Mandela) work very hard to row our slow boat to the little island of Magaruque.

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Abeja, Mario, and Mandela chilling out on the dhow
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Abeja and I have decided to adventure out of town and go get a taste of island life. When the boat reaches the small island, we grab our snorkeling gear and jump out into the knee-deep water, which is just about the right temperature for swimming. Mario says they will wait for us and watch our stuff while we go check out the coral reef and explore the island, so we head down the beach happy as sea turtles playing in the sand.

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Beach or desert? Survey says: beach!
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It is a small reef, but hundreds of varieties of strange and colorful tropical fish are swimming around it as we watch wide-eyed for about a half an hour. Afterwards, we climb out and explore the beach, collecting little seashells that we had never seen before.

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From the top, a view of the village below.
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Soon, it is time to head back to the village where we are staying, Vilankulo. The ride home takes a long time then we clean up and go out to eat fish, since that is just about all they eat here on the coast. Once again, being a vegetarian is very difficult for a World Trekker! After dinner we discover a big group of men and women standing in a circle singing in Chitswa (the local language) while a group beats rhythms on drums. We sit in the street for awhile, watching then go inside to sleep. When we wake just before dawn, they are still out there!

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A dhow sails toward the dimming African light.
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We get up and watch a spectacular sunrise over the Indian Ocean to the sound of real African tribal music. Later we ask what the party was all about and learn that someone had died. A celebration like this is one way that community pays final respects.

Vilankulo is about as close to paradise as you can get. I hope the people know how lucky they are to live in such a special, beautiful place.

Shawn
 

Abeja - Paradise Found... And Lost Again

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