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Comoros: Mutsamudu medina

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Mutsamudu medina | Comoros | Africa

[Visited: March 2014]

We had several plans for our stay on Anjouan, but the day after our excursion to Mount Ntringui, we wake up to heavy rains. We were supposed to drive around the island, visit Domoni, or even a beach, but that does not make much sense in this kind of weather. Instead of stopping, the torrential rain continues to fall all day long, and we end up not even leaving the hotel. The next day, we are supposed to leave the island, but wake up to more rain; moreover, the wind has picked up, and we can see violent waves on the sea from our window. The boat ride will be a choppy one, that is for sure. Then, the lady preparing breakfast is the first to bring the news: a cyclone is on its way. We walk to the office of the boat, and are told that there will be no sailing until two days later because of the weather. Asking around, we end up buying a plane ticket; we do not have much time left before we need to return home, which now suddenly seems far away from here.

Picture of Mutsamudu medina (Comoros): Shops in the Arab quarter of Mutsamudu

Strangely enough, although the sea is becoming rougher by the hour, the wind has subsided, and so has the rain. We are dying to go outside, and it is clear that, given the circumstances, it is wiser to stay in town. We walk to the old medina of Mutsamudu, and walk the alleys and narrow streets that can be found directly behind the waterfront buildings. We find tiny shops, small squares, and finely carved wooden doors. Some houses have their doors open, or their windows, allowing for a peek inside. Many alleys are so narrow, we can easily touch both sides with our arms. At times, the rain comes back; it is easy to seek shelter with these narrow streets and the roofs. We are regularly stopped by locals and have the opportunity to talk to them about their old town.

Picture of Mutsamudu medina (Comoros): Small mosque in the old Arab quarter in Mutsamudu

We find the main mosque of the Arab quarter. It, too, has beautifully carved wooden doors. Looking through an opening in a wall, we see a small cemetery between the buildings. We see more, smaller mosques when we continue our walk through the medina. We also notice that there are both small houses, some even in a state of disrepair, but also quite big, newer buildings where people must live comfortably. What makes walking around this part of Mutsamudu so pleasurable, is that every single house is unique; some have very attractive decorations making them look pretty. The medina was founded in the conspicuous year of 1492, but is still very much alive and kicking. When we are back on the boulevard, we appreciate the bigger space. We walk back to the stretch where even bigger waves are now pounding the coast, the road, and the houses behind it. It is a spectacular sight. In the end, we spend up spending one more day in Mutsamudu; all boat and plane travel is suspended.

Picture of Mutsamudu medina (Comoros): Building on the waterfront of Mutsamudu
Picture of Mutsamudu medina (Comoros): Anjouan woman with traditional cloth at a door in the medina of Mutsamudu
Picture of Mutsamudu medina (Comoros): Wooden doors have carved decorations
Picture of Mutsamudu medina (Comoros): Wooden doors with carvings are common in the old town of Mutsamudu
Picture of Mutsamudu medina (Comoros): Scene in one of the streets of Mutsamudu
Picture of Mutsamudu medina (Comoros): Narrow street in the old Arab town of Mutsamudu
Picture of Mutsamudu medina (Comoros): Colourful balustrade and door in a house in the medina of Mutsamudu
Picture of Mutsamudu medina (Comoros): Close-up of stairs on a building in Mutsamudu
Picture of Mutsamudu medina (Comoros): Medina of Mutsamudu with traditional wooden windows
Picture of Mutsamudu medina (Comoros): Wave being hurled into the air after breaking on the boulevard of Mutsamudu
Picture of Mutsamudu medina (Comoros): Cemetery between the old houses of the medina of Mutsamudu

Around the World in 80 Clicks

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