The End

Three amazing years have come to an end. We had the most awesome time sailing from St. Martin in the Carribean to Richardsbay in South Africa. I want to thank all the people that have always supported us and without whom this trip would not have been possible.

Thank you to our parents and family who have been so patient and who never stopped us, no matter how worried you must have been.

Thank you to our friends for moral support and for always being there for us whenever we came home. It is very important to have you as a base to which one can come back to relax and find new motivation and power to carry on.

Thank you to all the people that sailed with us. Without you this trip would not have been possible. Each and everyone of you made this trip so unique! I am very glad for all the new friends we made!

Thank you to all the people we met along the way. People that fed us, gave us shelter, helped with repairs on Seaventure, gave us advice and were just our friends.

And last but not least I want to thank you Andreas! This trip was your dream and you worked your a** off to make this happen. As a captain you have made people work and live together that had never met before. And you always led us safely to new shores. I am very proud about this trip we did together and very proud to move to Norway with you. I am looking forward to getting married and spending my life with you. I love you!

   
 

The kingdom of Swaziland

What do you expect from Africa? Elephants, Giraffes, Hippos, Rhinos, Antelopes and Lions? Wildlife? That’s what I expected anyway. We made our way to Swaziland to visit the Hlane Royal National Park. Of course it cannot even be compared to Kruger National Park in South Africa, but it has one very special feature: A campground right next to the only waterhole of the whole park! So we packed our tent and took a cumbiye (minibus). 

In the Cumbiye we already met the incredible nice Swati people. Swaziland is a little bit like a fairytale version of Africa. It is an absolute monarchy, with a king that has some 20 wifes or so. Tradition and culture is very important to the Swati and they try hard to maintain their culture. To them, their culture and the king are strongly connected. He is the father of the swati-family. To say anything critical about him is absolutely impossible. The Swati are also very afraid of secret police. So it is impossible to learn the truth about the king in a simple conversation… (What is the truth anyway)

Hlane Royal National Park was very nice, but also very cold. The climate inland is quite different from the sea and I was surprised to be freezing in Africa. It’s supposed to be hot there 😉 But it was of course the winter and I catched quite a cold. Now I can say I have done winter camping 🙂

We met a lot of South Africans in the Park and were intrigued by their hospitality. We also saw some of the big animals, although I didn’t always capture them with my camera. First because I did not always have my camera with me. And second because the zoom of my camera decided to have a will of its own. 

   
 
  
   
 
   
 
After this, we needed a break. We took into a very nice ecotourism mountain lodge to relax and recover. 

  

Mozambique

dia da independencia – nation building

We arrived in Maputo the morning before the anniversary of 40 years or independence. That left us just enough time to complete all the formalities before all offices closed for 4 days (and I’m not kidding, we got our visa at approx. 5:30pm). The next morning we take a chapa (minibus) to the stadium, where the big parade will be. Soon the roads are completely blocked and a long convoy of important looking diplomatic cars passes us in the middle of the street. We get out and start walking. Everywhere people have put up little stalls with refreshments, music is blasting and people are dancing on the street. The stadium is packed with people and we stand in the last row. First different divisions of the army enter the stadium and stand in the middle. Then the president enters in an open car. A huge roar goes through the crowd. He has been in office only for half a year and is seen as the president of change, for a new Mozambique, with less corruption. They cheer him and wave little flags. It is the first time, they have such a big celebration for Independence Day. I first thought the president saw a possibility for celebrating himself. But it is much more likely to be an important part of nation building. After the president inspects the troops he takes his seat in the vip area and the program starts, with traditional dances, singing, representation of all the different tribes, children with balloons, fighter jets roaring dangerously low over the stadium, parachutes landing in the stadium and of course speeches, speeches, speeches. That’s when we decide to leave. Outside people are gathering at the many stalls, eating, drinking and mainly having a good time. We sit down at a table with some mozambiquans and have a blast. They really are very nice. In the end they even drove us home.
Maputo

I am quite impressed by Maputo. After 3 weeks in Madagascar, we are surprised to find such a modern city in the heart of Africa. The roads are wide and well maintained, there are parks and sidewalk cafes and everywhere you can see a lot of developing going on. The people are well dressed and an astonishing large portion of them speaks well English. And they are extremely nice. It is very easy to communicate with them, because they seem to have a quite similar mentality as us and they are extremely open and welcoming. 
Island life

One evening we meet Manuel, while we are having a beer at a street stall. He is from the island of Inhaca outside of Maputo. He is only in town to do some business and will take the ferry back to inhaca early the next morning. Spontaneously we decide to go with him and spend a couple days in the real Mozambique. On the ferry he invites us, to sleep in a tent on his porch, which we gladly accept. Again we are so lucky to catch a glimpse of the real life. Inhaca is quite different to Maputo. First of all they barely have traffic. All roads consist only of fine white sand, which makes walking quite difficult. Here the clock still ticks the traditional way. People have time and we enjoy the laid back culture. On the other hand people are quite poor. There are a couple of hotels on the island but no other real opportunities for making good money.

Africa, Africa!

finally we are here. For Andreas this has been the continent of his dreams for a long time. Now we get to see whether it really lives up to its promises.

Madagascar in particular has also been on my list of favorite destinations and luckily the others share our passion. We decide to stay here for 3 weeks. The boat can stay in the commercial harbor of Tulear, while we travel inland. But we have to hire guards that will sit on our boat 24/7.

First we travel to a nice beach town just north of Tulear. It has a nice atmosphere, a few hotels and restaurants, but almost no tourists. We spend 4 nights there. But the days there we spend mostly reading and relaxing in our hammocks. I’m very happy with my new hammock, which has an integrated mosquito net. It is the dry season and not so many Mosquitos, but I decided to not take any Malaria prophylaxis and only carry the stand bye medication instead. So I do have to be careful. Along the coast it is still quite warm and there are plenty of Mosquitos around. 

Before we travel inland , we return to Tulear to check on the boat. There have been some big waves and a commercial harbor is not the safest place for a small boat like ours. We are lying next to a fishing boat and have to climb over three ships in total to get ashore. That is almost a little bit of an adventure. I have never before been on a big oil tanker. We befriend the Russian crew on the big ship and even get to see their bridge. They help us out with up to date weather information. And we enjoy their air conditioning. 

Tulear itself has not so much to offer. It is a big city, with a lot of poverty and violence. On our first night out, Paal gets robbed. He is taking a Pousse-Pousse back, alone, late at night, and at least quite a bit drunk. The robber jumps onto his Pousse-Pousse and cuts off Paal’s drybag, with a big machete! Inside his camera and a little bit of money. His phone and cards are luckily in his trouser pockets. Still not a nice experience. After this we get very careful, whenever travelling at night… 

Tulear has a couple of nice western-style restaurants (mostly owned by Frenchmen) and also a few nightclubs. The one we went to on the first night was dominated by French retirees and young Malagassy girls. There it was very easy to pick up a girl. Madagascar has a very different set of morals than India or the Maldives. It is much more open and easy going. Casual relations between boys and girls are common, couples get divorced (often the woman’s decision) and prostitution is frequent. Many women prefer a older husband who is already established and will take care of them. One young woman explains to us: young men often have many girls, they get drunk and don’t care for their family. Here it is often the woman that has to provide for the family. This young lady of 34 is married to a Frenchmen of 69. I have to say that they are a very harmonic couple. But you also see couples where the difference seems to be too big.

After checking on the boat we travel to Ranohira, close to the Parque National de l’Isalo. There we join Paal, Krischan and Karo who have already organised a two day hike through the national park. The next morning we leave to discover the Canyons of Isalo. We decide to stay one night longer than the others and walk back to Ranohira on the last day. I thought that was a perfect end to an already great hike. 

After that we spend a few quiet days in Ambalavao. Here we meet Teddy, a very nice young guide who invites us to witness a special ceremony in his hometown, Soatanana. This town is also called the white village, because people there wear only white clothes. It is the center of a christian community that you can only find in Madagascar. The white clothes symbolize humility, purity and ….???

We get there on Saturday evening and already there get greeted with very loud, omnipresent singing of hymns. The next morning we get greeted by the President, a sort of spiritual leader and mayor. After that we walk towards the church in one huge procession, with the whole village singing around us. The english teacher of the local school explains to us the history of the community and leads us through the complete service. The president is very happy to have people from so many different countries (there are also one Australian, one French and two Americans in addition to the whole crew from Seaventure) and he chooses to read Matthews, where he explains how God will meet all the people from all the countries on the world and judge them on the last day. While they read it in Malagassy, Andreas gets to read for us in English. I have never been in a Church where the Service actually gets translated just for me. After the Service the Community gathers to wash our feet. This was a very strange experience. All of course while singing more and more hymns. After that they serve us lunch and while we sit there, we have about 50 people crowded in this rather small room still singing to us. This must have been the weirdest lunch I ever had. After this the ceremonies are finally over. We give up our white dresses that they had lend to us and play some soccer with the local youngsters. Then we visit Teddys family and get a glimpse of how the people in this town really live. They have a very nice house and show us how to make banana-bread. For a living they do embroidery which they sell all over Madagascar. Before we part, each of us, gets a small table cloth that they have embroidered.

The next morning we leave for a hike through the valley. We visit a local rum distillery and buy a small bottle of rum that we will need later.  Teddy shows us a few tombs of important kings that used to reign the area. Then we come to a village who will show us a local cave that has been the kings palace a long time ago. Because it is a fady place (taboo after the local customs) we have to make a couple of offerings to the ancestors before we can enter the cave. We pour some rum on a special stone and ask the ancestors for allowance to enter. Then we enter the cave. One of the men carries a big rooster. Andreas had been petting it earlier in the village but when I see it now, I get a dark idea of what is about to happen. And yes, on top of the cave the rooster is being slaughtered, fried and eaten. Seven of the best pieces get offered to the ancestors. But the traditional beliefs seem to have faded a little bit. After the offering ceremony these seven pieces get eaten as well. They argue that its only about the smell… ok…

We were very lucky to be able to take part in this special ceremony. It was only because we were the first visitors of the year. I also found it very lucky that this is still a secret to most tourists. The village is trying to make it more well known now. Last year they had only one group visit and the year before as well only one. Even for the villagers it was a very special occasion to go up to the cave.

This was our last trip within Madagascar. We take a totally overloaded Taxi-Brousse back to Tulear. As we travel through the night, we have to drive in convoy and also have an armed guard on bord. It makes me nervous at first but then I fall asleep and sleep as comfortably as possible through the night. The next morning we arrive in Tulear. After one day of work, we leave Madagascar the following day around 3pm. Hello Mozambique!