How to experience one unbelievably quaint airport in Comoros
Heading back to Grande Comore
Our experience of an unbelievably quaint airport
It was time to leave this autonomous jewel of Moheli. I wish we could have seen more of it and enjoyed some more of the underwater world like other tourists have, but unfortunately our time on this paradise island had come to an end.
We managed to get a taxi, yes, your eyes aren't deceiving you, to take us to the airport. We didn’t realise there were any taxis – probably the only one on the island. The building didn't look like an airport terminal. Definitely not a plane in sight. The structure was a bit run down. I’m not sure if there even was a wind sock. I’m pretty sure there weren’t any electronic devices to guide the plane in. I concede, perhaps there was a small radio to communicate with the pilot. There undeniably weren’t neon lights guiding us to the right desk. We walked in and gaped at the setup.
We’d said goodbye to Willem, Elize & Lomé, who were sailing back to Madagascar. We’d had quite an adventure with them. Living in such close proximity, even though they gave us our own 'space' so to speak, we still spent a lot of time chatting and got to know each other even more.
Living on a smallish boat, even if it is just for a short space of time, can be quite tight. There isn’t much space to ‘hide’ if you wanted to get away from each other. But we survived or was it them that sighed with relief when they sailed away?
We were assisted quite quickly at the airport. We must have had tourists written on our foreheads with an invisible ink that only Comorians could read. We certainly stood out as the only foreigners there. Our plane tickets were as quaint as the building. They were handwritten, but neatly placed in a cardboard envelope. Our plane landed and within no time it was off loaded and reloaded. All the passengers ambled on to the runway and watched the scene.
The flight back to Grande Comore was another experience with a difference. We boarded the small plane at Fomboni. I think there were only about twelve seats at the most. Plane experts will be able to correct me on that one, if they see the photo. We weren’t allocated seats and could sit anywhere we wished so of course our whole family chose window seats. Sorry for the other passengers.
The pilot entered through the same door as the passengers and we noticed he was of rather large stature! He had to crouch and squeeze between his and the co-pilot’s seat to sit in his spot at the front. It was a smooth flight with no in-flight service. Our entertainment was looking out the windows at the sea and other islands below. We waved a proverbial goodbye to Moheli as we flew away from the lush green island. We certainly had no regrets spending some time there.
I must confess I told a small lie in my last blog. We did get to see Anjouan, but only from the air. Still, we saw it, right? Does that count? Our flight was about 1 hour 15 minutes and was over before we knew it.
As we flew in to Grande Comore we saw a distinct line where lava had flowed in April 1977 from its active volcano, Karthala. A black path of rock made its way down the hill to the ocean with contrasting greenery on either side. What a frightening experience that must have been for those near it. With just over 1000 square kilometre of island, there isn’t that much space to hide if an angry volcano starts spewing ruthlessly!
When we arrived at Le Galawa it felt quite surreal. Instead of looking at it from a mooring, like we had done in Disaster, compromise and charm at the Comoros, when we arrived at the Comoros Archipelago, we were looking out to sea. Resort life was completely different to the last ten days. It didn't take us long to become sloths and adapt to this lifestyle. It felt quite strange to be sleeping in a room instead of a cabin, although the earth still moved for a couple of days afterwards, especially when bending over! Truth be told, we quite missed Bossi and friends!
There was still plenty to do while we were there. Our sons were eager to have fun with the various water sports they could indulge in. We relaxed on the beach, swimming, snorkelling and enjoying our last couple of days before heading back home. Once again the colours of the bays were soothing to the eye. Dark, almost black volcanic rock set against the azure blue sea; green palm trees in abundance made to look like a postcard - naturally. Just before sunset while enjoying cool drinks we watched bats take to the air - the biggest bats I have ever seen! Large swarms of them took off to forage at night. Some lazy ones hung around in the trees but eventually they took off as well, as they must have realised they may starve if they don’t fly around.
Meals were lavish affairs and we ate far too much. One would think we never had any food for the last few days! The photo of us eating dry French bread and cheese in my previous blog, Autonomous jewel of an island in the Comoros, Moheli, wasn’t a true indication of our rations. It was also rather strange dressing up for dinner. The previous 10 days we were laid back, living in our swimsuits or shorts and t-shirts right up till bed time. After dinner as is customary to resort living, evening entertainment was laid on. We watched dancing, singing and small cabaret type shows.
Another trip was done and dusted. One which we safely secured in the chambers of our memory bank along with the others before. While resort life has its place and one can languish in luxury and abundance of all things good, it certainly doesn’t hold as much adventure as what it does exploring on foot, by yacht or any other mode of transport you choose. We’re glad we had the mix of the two.
What would your choice be: resort holiday or sailing on a catamaran? Would love your comments.
What happened to Le Galawa?
Unfortunately the hotel is now permanently closed. There are very few hotels on Grande Comoros
Click on the links for other accommodation on Grand Comores