The first place I ever fell in love with was Mozambique. I never really moved on. We kept having a string of affairs on beaches, islands, boats …
Today, nearly a decade later, we’ve decided to give the idea of ‘us’ a decent chance and move in together. (I’m very aware of my commitment issues, but with love – as with art – instinct is enough. Who said home couldn’t be a never-ending adventure?)
Disclaimer *** Should I return with a broken heart, I’d like to think the very art of living is to fall in love over and over and over and over and over again.
I took the picture above in southern Mozambique, at Machangulo Beach Lodge about a year ago. I think I might have actually secretly wished to move to the beach moments after taking it.
Just goes to show: ‘Someday’ is closer than you think …
My grandmother, possibly the wisest woman to ever walk this earth, always reminded me how I should never say never, that never really is a very long time and to remember that life is beautiful, exactly because we never know what is going to happen.
If you told me in the beginning of this year when I started #366DaysOfMakingSpace, that I’m going to buy my first property in Cape Town, settle in and then move out as soon as I have done so, I would have told you that you’re high.
And what happened?
Here I am, packing up my personal belongings, getting my studio ready for AirBnb Guests, on my way to move to ANOTHER COUNTRY!
Vilankulo, in the Inhambane province of Mozambique, is commonly known as a destination for honeymooners, adventurers and under water enthusiasts. It is place where time stands still and yet the ever changing landscape is re-drawn daily by the tides reminiscent of all the history that preceded it.
#366DaysOfMakingSpace 107/366 The town of Vilankulo is the gateway to the Bazaruto Archipelago, a group of five (some say six) islands in Mozambique. The area is now protected as a conservation area and national park – including the coral reefs surrounding the islands – making it the only official marine reserve in the country and one of the largest in the Indian Ocean. Dhows travel between the town and never-ending layers of blue and white paradise. I’ve visted Bazaruto, Benguerra and Santa Carolina (also known as Paradise Island). Banque, Shell and Nyati are next …
As much as I’d like to become a professional Mermaid and focus on perfecting the fine art of sunbathing in my new hometown, I am, and will always be, a filmmaker, travel writer and photographer. I’ll continue to specialise in strategic intergovernmental communication and advocacy, but hope to also write, attempt a destination marketing campaign and try my hand at PR. Most of my stories and updates will still be shared here, on the blog.
How did this BIG move come about?
Earlier this year I travelled to Vilankulo to produce a marketing film and some promotional photographic material for Bahia Mar Boutique Hotel. Whilst completing this project, Vilankulo and I started yet another holiday romance. This time however, I fell hopelessly, hopelessly in love.
The below quote by Lisa St Aubin de Teran puts everything into perfective. Honestly, it is exactly what I feel when I’m staining on the beach, or overlooking from the deck out towards the Bazaruto Archipelago.
#366DaysOfMakingSpace 162/366 ⛵️⛵️⛵️ "I felt a huge sense of relief knowing that all my days of running and seeking were over. This was what I had been looking for, and one day I would return to live and (hopefully) eventually to die in that ancient, silent, magical place." – Mozambique Mysteries/ Lisa St Aubin de Terán ⚓️⚓️⚓️
I was devastated to leave after 3 weeks in paradise, I practically begged Susanna – my boss- to let me return a second time – with the promise to make the film even more beautiful. (I also promised to take a million pictures of her fancy gymnasium! Behold, below: Susanna herself.)
#366DaysOfMakingSpace 102/366 One of the main things I wanted to make space for this year was the sea. I like it even more on a catamaran at sunset I think. If it gets better at any point I'll let you know ⚓️⚓️⚓️ This is my beautiful friend Lwana. Together we form the most epic Club Single in history. Of Vilankulo at least.
During my first visit I learnt of the Bongile project and their serious need for a small amounts of money to build two extra buildings in the pre-school compound in town.
I was amazed at how difficult it proved to raise money for the cause. I suggested to Paulo, the owner of Bahia Mar, that I donate 50 of my photographs for auction, making the funds raised available to the Bongile Project and their needs. He agreed wholeheartedly and we started the ‘Fisherman Portrait Project’.
This was the picture that inspired the project. Every day I would watch this boy empty his father’s dhow in the bay.
The ‘Fisherman Portrait Project’ will feature portraits of each individual dhow in Vilankulo, with it’s respective owner. I’m hoping to photograph every single one. It is quite the task. It has taken a lot of time to earn the trust of the local community, finally receiving their blessing to take pictures of them.
I have managed to shoot a handful of portraits that I’m reasonably happy with. Here are some examples.
This picture is not a great picture. The guy has a mast coming out of his head, so I’ll not be using it, but the idea is there and it was the first time I came even close to what I thought the project needed to be.
#366DaysOfMakingSpace 124/366 One of the things I wanted to make space for this year was the sea. I'm fortunate enough to be the resident photographer at @bahiamarboutiquehotel in Vilankulo (for an unspecified amount of time) and work on my first solo exhibition. Here is the first in the series of 50 portraits. #BahiaMarVilankulo
This girl in particular inspired also including family members and children of fishermen. She is so beautiful to me. I wish I could speak Portuguese, so she could understand me …
Bahia Mar and I hoped to have the exhibition in December 2016/January 2017, inviting the local community to come and celebrate and fundraise with us, but the final dates have not been decided: I need to come back to Vilankulo and give my full attention to this project — for at least 2-3 months — before we can commit to a date. At least we’re heading in the right direction.
I’m going to tell gigantic lies if I say that I’m not already thinking of buying a beach house and really making Vilankulo my second home, but I’m planning focus on the ‘Fisherman Portrait Project’, complete it and then decide afterwards.
AND THEN I WENT BACK A SECOND TIME …
This time round my wing woman, Meruschka Govender aka Mzansigirl, joined me for a couple of days. It didn’t take much effort to make her understand why I love this place so much … and why I never wanted to leave!
#366DaysOfMakingSpace 138/366 By far one of the most beautiful experiences when visiting Vilankulo, is a canoe safari in the Govuro inland delta with Vilanculos Canoe Safaris. Imagine gliding through hundreds of water lilies, ample bird life and fireflies. Now add Venus rising in the African sky and you might be getting close. I'm definitely coming back in spring to do this all over again. I'd love to see what those flowers look like first thing in the morning! #MeetMeInVilankulo
On the last morning, we played with the dogs on the beach and she said: “I can totally see myself coming back here. For at least a month!”
I’m not entirely certain what the future holds, but isn’t that exactly what I’ve learnt this year? That anything can happen? Anything …
(Thanks, Gran! I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of Stephen Hawking, but I think you two would get along like a whole universe on fire. I miss you.)
#366DaysOfMakingSpace 106/366 "There aught to be something very special about the boundary conditions of the universe, but what can be more special is that there is no boundary. And there should be no boundary to human endeavour. We are all different. However mad life may seem there is always something you can do and succeed at. While there is life, there is hope." – Stephen Hawking
PS: Watch the film I produced for Bahia Mar here and come on, #MeetMeInVilankulo?
PPS: I’ve also caught my very first fish, by the way! Read more about the adventure with Big Blue Vilankulo, here.
I think I caught some kind of a Tuna. I think. In a dress. See below picture of girl with smudged mascara – who on earth even wears mascara to sea? – for reference.
Note also the level of happiness.