It is my photographer friend asking. We have just packed the small plane full of equipment and met our new pilot. Ross, nineteen. He looked younger. He is the fourth pilot on this trip that would definitely struggle to buy tobacco without id back home. The question takes the edge off a small anxiety that has lingered in the back of our heads. We laugh while he changes batteries in his handheld GPS, then we crawl into the small plane.
We take off in the warm air and head for the coast. Pemba airport, Mozambique, slowly disappear behind us. The intense colors of the wild landscape below, makes beautiful images. Dark blue rivers divide the pale sand patches and bright green forest. Slowly we leave land and continue over deep dark blue. Soon small islands appear. From here I can clearly see the edge of the reef surrounding the islands. The sun is sparkling in the surface. I feel a sensational urge filling my mind. I get this urge to drop into the ocean and explore. When it is remote and wild like this the urge increase. This started when I was very young. I sat before an old TV set and watched Cousteau movies and dreamed of, one day, travel to places like this.
After nearly an hour in the air a long and slim island appear in the horizon. Mejumbe. Thick green vegetation cover most of the island and it ends in a long, beautiful sand patch that just fades into the deep blue ocean. They made the airstrip on the island as long as possible. Ross put the wheels down just yards after the asphalt starts and struggle to stop the plane before the bushes in the end. We come to a stop and the engine sound is taken over by total silence. We open the door and the small cockpit is filled with warm afternoon air and the smell of ocean.
The afternoon sun is warm read and makes long shadows. The skies are reflected in the pool. Small waves hit the beach below and make a relaxing loop of familiar sound. As the sun slowly sets, the smell of barbequed lobster fills the air. I look deep into the razor sharp horizon.
I cannot see it but know that Madagascar is out there. I look at the calm Indian Ocean and think of the transition happening in this moment. The nocturnal creatures crawl out from cracks and crevices. Some creatures hide. The big predators from the deep come to feed on the reef. Can’t wait until tomorrow, then we will finally dive.