Day two – we saw it all – our story before lunch!
This morning I awoke to the sound of the waves crashing against the shore. Opening my door I saw the view that had been shrouded in darkness last night – and what a view! My deck literally sat on the beach. The sea was out so there was what appeared to be miles upon miles of sandy white beach and not a person in sight. Well I tell a lie – I think I may have spotted sue out for her morning walk way off in the distance!
Rested and feeling invigorated I set off to see if the plans that we made last night would today become a reality. Oh yes! Doug and Laura were ready with our snorkels, flippers and masks and off we set. Across the lodge main deck, past the pool (note to self – must have a dip in the pool!) and down onto the beach. Sue, Lina, Alison and I had arrived at the lagoon which is where we would be snorkelling. Now having snorkelled in a number of exotic spots over the years I was somewhat dubious when Doug pointed out the relatively small area that we would be snorkelling in. He reassured us that when we got in we would see how much larger the area appeared and how prolific the fish life was. Wow is all I can say! So many fish and such beautiful colours shining in the sunlight. Iridescent flashes of electric blue, sunflower yellow and pillar box red darted past us as both large and small fish went about their business like a scene from “Nemo” or “Tiddler.” We were merely observers of this beautiful underwater world. And one of the best things about this experience? We literally only had to amble 2 minutes from the lodge and we had reached our snorkel site.
Snorkelling over, it was back to my room for a quick change and then off for a walk to Cabaceira Pequena. This is the local village and the home of most of the staff at Coral Lodge. Maarufo – head of the guards and also the legendary local tour guide, was taking us on our walk. We set off through the shrubs and bushes and then through the mangrove. Off with our shoes to wade through the water with Sue leading the way. Being mindful of the one clawed crabs who are scuttling all over the pathway! After walking for 40 minutes or so we arrive at the village. Sand pathways, small homes made of coral and cement and topped with beautifully constructed thatch roofs. Most houses stood in small clusters with activity taking place in the small, dusty central space. Courtyard is far too grand a word! Here we could see washing strung up on the line, chickens pecking away in the dirt, old men sitting in the shade and small children playing barefoot.
As we slowly wandered through the village, the children looked at us inquisitively. I stopped to take their pictures on my iPad and then switched the screen round to show them. I had the most amazing response when they saw their faces smiling back at them from the screen. Squeals of joy, laughter and much excitement. Everyone was being beckoned over so I took more and more pictures! A couple sitting on a stoop with their child made a lovely photo and we vowed then to print the pictures and send them back to Coral Lodge. Laura then said she would bring the photos back to the children and Alison suggested creating a photo wall in the school. Such an easy thing to do which was creating so much pleasure.
Carrying on through the village we came across two classes of children being taught their lessons under the trees. We would later be shown the new school that was being built to give the children shade and shelter. We were shown both the old and new mosque as this community is a Muslim community and the hospital where the children were receiving their vaccinations. These vaccinations are only possible with the money that is raised by guests from Coral Lodge. All guests pay 2 dollars per stay which goes directly to the village. In addition to the vaccinations other projects include the construction of an orphanage and an old people’s home.
We finally arrived at the village square. Again a rather grand term for a central point containing 3 market stalls and a very old but very popular table football! Apparently the local teenagers beat the socks off of Doug when he challenged them to a match earlier in the week!
During our time in this charming village we were surrounded by small children who at one point started to collect shells to give to me as gifts. Though I was well aware that you do not take shells from Mozambique I collected them up in a coconut shell until it was full to overflowing and still the gifts kept coming! So refreshing to be given something rather than the expectation that we were there to hand out gifts. Once back at Coral Lodge I returned them to the beach.
Our final stop took us to see the well at work. Here we watched as a local lady dropped her plastic container into the well on a very long piece of string, patiently waited for it to fill before pulling it back up, filling her bucket and starting the process all over again. Once she had enough the bucket went on her head and off she walked back to the village.
This glimpse of real life in a rural village in Mozambique was an experience that will always stay with me. Plentiful fish ensures that food is in good supply. A healthy lifestyle means a good life expectancy and the involvement of Coral Lodge and their guests are ensuring that medical treatment is vastly improved.
So we waved goodbye to the children, took off our shoes and once again started our walk back through the shallow waters and the mangroves to Coral Lodge and a highly anticipated lunch. Boy had we worked up an appetite…