Sunday, June 19, 2011

L'isle de Mayotte

Auntie Ann and I spent a week visiting her good friends Catherine, Thierry, Lena and Marie on the island of Mayotte.

Mayotte is one of the four islands that make up the Comoros islands located in between Madagascar and Mozambique. Since March, Mayotte has been an overseas department of France. French is the official language but most local people speak Shimaore, a dialect of Swahili.

Our arrival on the island was delayed by two days due to some visa issues so minutes after greeting Thierry, Catherine and Lena we hastily threw some things in a backpack and piled into the car to embark on a camping expedition on the southern part of the island. We were going to spend the night on the Saziley beach only accessible by boat or foot to see the Green Turtles come ashore to lay their eggs. As we finished the 2-3 hour hike we came upon the beach and were greeted by an emergence of baby turtles scampering towards the sea. Each female turtle will lay up to 150 eggs at one time and about two months later the eggs hatch and the babies “run” to the water.

Saziley Beach-baby turtles emerging and running to the sea

Back from camping, the next couple of days were spent at the beach snorkeling, kayaking and swimming. Marie and her friend Julie even opened a boulangerie on one of the beaches and made us fresh croissants and pain au chocolate! Ann and I tried out the ocean kayak- we finally got the hang of kayaking and snorkeling at the same time after several attempts but once we figured it out we were rewarded with magnificent views of the reef.

Days at the beach

Thierry offered us the chance to climb Mont Choungui and after about an exhausting 45 minutes of climbing up tree roots and rock we arrived at the top with the whole island of Mayotte spread out beneath us. The views were definitely worth it!

Climbing Mont Choungui

After climbing the mountain we went to what Thierry claims to be the most beautiful beach on Mayotte.

Highlight of this beach for Ann and I were the turtles happily munching on the sea grass all around us as we snorkeled by. Not only were the turtles eating their lunch but there were also large fish with triangular mouths that were feeding off of the turtles shells. One turtle had at least 4 of these fish suckered on to it as it swam about. We then picked up Marie from school and went back to their house in Tsingoni. Thierry brought us down to the fishing beach there for another swim. On our way down we passed through the mangroves and saw the fish that don’t know how to swim flopping about in the mud.

After a morning of walking around Mamoudzou, the capital, we joined Catherine, Lena, Marie and other friends for Mamma Brochetty. Very tasty skewered meat with plantains, fruit de pain and manioc.

We had an absolutely wonderful time visiting Catherine, Thierry, Lena and Marie and seeing all the wonderful things Mahoré. If only we could live on such a beautiful tropical island too…