ibo island

Thank God I took a Xanax before our flight on the "light aircraft" to the "grass airstrip."  The tragic plane crash in Lagos last month made for four very anxiety-ridden flights to Pemba; the Xanax made the final leg in the tiny propeller-plane over the gorgeous Quirimbas archipelago breathtaking - in a good way.

Twenty minutes later on wobbly knees I climbed out of the plane at the Ibo Island "airport."  We were met by our guide for the week, Harris, and loaded onto a golf cart for a short drive along the sandy roads to the Ibo Island Lodge.  We arrived at the stately, white-washed hundred year-old mansion and were greeted with sparkling wine and cold towels as we checked in.  Harris escorted us through the columns, past green grassy courtyards shaded by palm trees and lined with bright pink bouganvillea to our room where a huge, mahogany, canopy bed stood under the high ceilings.  

After much-needed showers, we wandered away from the lodge, taking advantage of the low tide and walking barefoot across the damp sand to the Indian Ocean.  Dusk quickly approached, so we returned to the lodge and climbed to the patio on the roof to take in the first of seven sunsets.

We spent the next two days wandering the ancient forts and ornate, empty shells of deserted colonial buildings, and the next two nights washing down fresh calamari and shrimp and crab and lobster with caprinhas and cold beer.  We met village kids clammoring for photographs, silversmiths and wood carvers selling their wares, and women wearing masks of white. We ended up on a long walk with two local teenagers who said they wanted to practice their English and but really wanted us to patronize their friend's restaurant (so we did).  They took us all around the island - through the fisherman's village, the stone village and the crab village past a live auction to the old cemetery - we even saw some monkeys along the way!  

After three nights at the lodge we re-packed our bags and set out for the real adventure: 5 days of sailing the archipelago on an old Arabic dhow and camping on the deserted islands at night.