Greetings from Comoros! I’m happy to be here, but getting here from Bahrain was an adventure like no other. Unfortunately, the wifi is so slow here that I can’t upload any pictures, but here is what happened during my journey from Bahrain to Comoros:
I flew from Bahrain to Dubai in the middle of the night, and I had a three-hour layover at the Dubai airport. So basically I missed one night of sleep.
In Dubai, they were telling me that the flight is full and I can’t board the plane. I was explaining that I have a connecting flight from Nairobi and I need to get to this flight. It worked, and I got to the plane. However, the flight was delayed for almost two hours. At this point, I was sure that I was going to miss my connecting flight because I only had one hour between the flights.
I got to Nairobi, and my flight was already gone. Kenya Airways arranged a visa, hotel, and free buffet at the hotel for me, so I was fine waiting for my next flight which was late in the evening. I asked if I should take my luggage, but they were telling me that I don’t need to, my bag is going straight to Comoros.
I arrived in Comoros in the middle of the night, and I was exhausted after traveling for more than 24 hours. Prince Said Ibrahim International Airport is probably the smallest international airport I’ve ever been to! I filled out my visa form and walked to the passport control desk. They asked $50 for the visa, and of course, I didn’t have that much cash with me. I was coming from the Middle East and wasn’t yet adjusted for the mindset you have when traveling in Africa: always carry a lot of US dollars with you. I couldn’t pay with my card, and they didn’t have any ATMs at the airport. Luckily, there was a random man (a local man picking up someone) who paid for my visa and told me that he could take me to the ATM so that I could pay him back. The nearest ATM is in Moroni 20 km away.
I passed the passport control, and I was just ready to grab my backpack and find a hotel for the night. But my bag wasn’t there. I had somehow expected this, and on a plane from Nairobi to Comoros, I had made sure that my baggage tag was with my passport. But when I got to an office to file a claim, I couldn’t find the tag. It wasn’t with my passport anymore. I was sure that the immigration officers had dropped it when they were doing my passport check.
I went back to the immigration desk, but they had already closed it. Someone came to open it, and he was trying to find it, but because it was almost pitch black, he didn’t see anything. I went back to the office and the lady there was telling me that she can’t do anything without the tag. I was explaining that I was 100% sure that the tag was inside the immigration booth. I asked someone to open the door for me again, and this time I just went in and started searching for it. And I found it! I went back to the office, and they were telling me that my bag would be here the next day. They were not going to bring it to my hotel, though, so I would have to come back to the airport.
I was ready to leave the airport with the driver and his sister. He took me to a hotel, but because I didn’t have any reservation and it was 2 a.m., there was no one opening the door. We tried two different hotels, but they were all closed. The sister of the driver was so kind that she offered me to stay with her. I have to say that it was an interesting experience to see how the locals live here. The walls were made of sheet metal, and there was no Western-style bathroom, only a bucket in the backyard to take a shower. I was just so tired because of the lack of sleep that I was ready to hit the bed right after arriving. The house was small, so I slept on the same bed with the girl.
Everything was good until the mosquitos came. There was no mosquito net, and my anti-malaria tablets were of course in my bag which was in Nairobi. I’ve heard that the malaria is pretty severe here and I regretted that I didn’t start the medication when I was still in Bahrain.
After a not-so-well-slept night, my host was so kind that she offered me breakfast before the driver came again to pick me up. We went to the ATM, and I finally paid him for the visa and taxi. He took me to the hotel where I’m still staying. After a not-so-successful arrival in Comoros, I’m still happy that it went this way because I got to experience the incredible hospitality of Comorian people.
I spent my first day just waiting for my bag, and I was lucky to get a ride to the airport because the owners of the hotel were going also going there to pick up their daughter.
Today I’ve been just enjoying my time here. I already made local friends, hiked up to see a crater and went swimming. The wifi is so slow that I can’t post any pictures, but I’m just dying to show you guys how beautiful this place is.
Tomorrow I’ll take a boat to another island, Moheli, and apparently, there is no electricity or running water. Lonely Planet also describes the boats as death-traps, and I’ve gotten mixed information on whether I can take the boat or not. Some people say that it’s okay, the boats are safe and people take them every day, and some people say that the government doesn’t allow foreign people to take the boats because they are too dangerous. I’ll find out tomorrow. Wish me luck, and hopefully, you can hear back from me after a week or so!