I have a strange and wonderful collection. It takes up no space on any shelf, never requires dusting and doesn’t cost anything and brings me pure joy.
The newest entry to my collection is Comoros. It is a collection of Islands between Madagascar and Mozambique in Southeastern Africa.
Comoros is remote, but with a rich history dating back to the times of Muhammed. As well, it has a very low population with less than three quarters of a million people, barely more than my hometown, Portland, Oregon. It is also known for the number of bloodless coups it has had since the 70’s, having gained independence from France in 1978 the leadership changed hands repeatedly until recently. A new leader was lucky to get a picture of their face up on the wall before they were deposed. They fixed this problem most recently by becoming a collection of islands autonomous from each other but together as they are regarded internationally. A Union, and a member of the United Nations.
I discovered on Lonely Planet that one of the popular activities on this Muslim island is to attend Mosque services on Friday evening in traditional garb. While I am not Muslim, the idea of going to worship as a high point of the week strikes me. There is no alcohol permitted, which makes the disco scene a little dismal, which is ok by me too.
The weather in Comoros is sunny and 75 to 90 degrees. Pretty humid though, hovering around 70 percent. I have experienced worse, and it is good for the skin. It is rainy from November to May. Sometimes in the midst of the sun, there are lightning showers. Amazing.
The capital is the town called Moroni. The 12-year old boy in me is tempted to make jokes about this name, but out of respect and maturity I yet possess, I refrain.
The Comoros is an archipelago, sovereign. It has Peloponesian, Swahili language, French and Arab influences in its past, which assures a diverse experience culturally. It’s situation between Madagascar and near Zanzibar means that it was on spice trading routes historically, which makes me even more curious about how that location effected them culturally. What influences may have stuck?
In the year 933, Al-Masudi refers to Omani sailors, who call the Comoros islands “The Perfume Islands” and sing of waves that break rhythmically along broad, pearl-sand beaches, the light breezes scented with ylang-ylang, a component in many perfumes.
Still today their main exports are spices and essential oils in addition to industrial materials. Above is picture ylang ylang, a fragrant export of The Comoros.
As I continued my research, I also read at other tourism sites that the population density is among the highest in The Comoros, as well as sites stating that the nightlife there is quite lively. I can only draw the conclusion that the islands vary significantly from one another, either that or the travel website is eager to say whatever the traveler might want to hear?
I dream just to go escape for a few months, ride my bike around lazily to markets with a basket, make friends to teach me their most delicious recipes and share their most wonderful music. To read books that deliver me elsewhere and spend my days discovering new little alcoves, taking pictures. And then return to regular life… contented, ready to enter the chaos again. That much richer, that much more perspective. I wonder what I could bring with me to help their lives be a little richer too.
The Comoros sends my imagination reeling. I guess when I get to Zanzibar, I will have to make s side trip there.