Fabled Islands of the Indian Ocean 12

Fabled Islands 12

April 18, 2009

Last night was pretty rough seas, but surprisingly I seem to have found my “sea-legs.” I was able to travel the halls from dining room to cabin and back without hitting any of the walls! Trust me, it was quite a challenge!

We arrived at Ibo Island, Mozambique, this morning around 7 AM.

Ibo Island is part of the Quirimbas Archipelago in northern Mozambique, with one of the oldest and most interesting towns in this region. In the late 1500’s the area was ruled by both the Portuguese and Muslims. During subsequent centuries it became an important trade center for many exotic spices, trade goods, and slaves.

In 1902 the capital was transferred from Ibo Island to the current location, Pemba. This signaled the beginning of the slow demise of the island.

After clearing customs, we off-loaded into the Zodiacs in groups and headed into “town.” I decided to join the photo team, led by National Geographic photographer, Bob Krist.

The Zodiac ride in was pretty long, about 3 miles, in choppy water. As we neared the beach we had to drop speed to a crawl, as the water was only a foot deep and was soon to become mud flats as the tide went out.

Once ashore, we walked for a couple of hours up and down the decrepit streets and sidewalks. Buildings still stand, obviously old colonial offices and stores but are crumbling or being overgrown by vegetation. It feels almost like a ghost town though some locals still live here. One person said it looked like time had stopped, an apt description.

The kids in the town are inquisitive as they are almost everywhere in the world, the adults less so. Some declined to be photographed, others welcomed us.

I managed quite a few nice photos here, though I can’t post many as I have almost filled my laptop hard drive with photos!

Walking along with Bob and his entourage I was struck by the fact that my own eye for images is pretty good. Bob clearly saw many things that I did not, but in general I did pretty well. Or so I thought until I saw his slide show. Wow, what an eye! He presented most of his images in a sepia tone or monochrome, which enhanced the “old” effect of the town; stunning images. I have a lot to learn…

After lunch we went out on our final dive of this trip. The wind had picked up and was creating quite a bit of chop. We went out about 3 miles, bouncing around like crazy, to the southwest end of Ibo Island accompanied by a local dive guide.

At first the coral and visibility both were very good, but it dropped somewhat as we moved farther west along the coral wall. Our local guide seemed not to have too much group experience, as he took off with the two lead divers and separated from the rest of the group.

Our own divemasters kept the group together until the guide finally stopped and waited for the rest of us to catch up. He was also using underwater signals that apparently are European. None of us knew them, but we did find out later what he was trying to convey.

About 40 minutes into the dive, the visibility dropped to less than 10 feet; think pea soup. We ended the dive shortly thereafter, and headed back to the ship for showers and a great dinner.

Tonight and all the next day we will be at sea as we proceed north up the Mozambique Channel to Zanzibar, almost the end of this trip.


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