It was 67 degrees below zero when I left South Pole. Each night, most Polies slept with a humidifier blowing next to their bed. The South Pole is one of the coldest, driest places on Earth. I had to make up a new diagnosis, “adjusting to Polar environment,” for all the people who thought they were getting sick and came in to my clinic only to be told that what they were experiencing was entirely normal and the treatment was a humidifier.
“Ugh, I’m sorry. We’re in a bit of a heat wave” Gianni tells me as we load up to drive to her lodge. I have traded the cold and dry of Antarctica for a humid African heatwave. When we arrive at her property, I am overwhelmed by the lush greenery. The entrance way is protected by ten-foot-tall plants of all kinds of varieties. The humidity is sky high. Even after two weeks in New Zealand, the air feels particularly dense. The heat and humidity is coupled with a stillness that elevates the stifling heat.
I’m thawing out. It feels amazing.
From our room, above the room where Gianni teaches expat high school classes, we get the best breezes of anywhere in the lodge. There is both an indoor and outdoor shower connected to a local well. Daily cold showers are the norm. I’m assured the water is fine to drink. A patio extends from the front of the room. The lodge staff have all been there for years. I usually remember to close the door, but never lock it. Views from the patio are as foreign from where I’ve just lived as possible. From flat, white, dry, cold to lush, green forests behind me and the Indian ocean in front of me. Barely in front of me. The walk to the beach is about 3 minutes. It could have been faster, but I had no need to hurry and flip flops and thick sand take some navigating.
Every morning, I wake to views of the Indian Ocean. I lounge. There is no need to hurry. Eventually, I make my way down to the café on property that serves as the dining facility while the restaurant is being completed. The staff know me well after only a day. Breakfast with a full press of coffee. The food takes a little while to come out, but things run on island time here. Why hurry if you don’t have to?
After breakfast, I’ll make my way back to my room. The attached patio provides ridiculous reading. The covered area, with a table and wooden chairs, is far too inviting. I read. Slowly. Or just stare at the ocean. Excluding my brief R&R between winter and summer, it’s been a year since I spent time with the ocean. Even from 500 meters, it’s enthralling.
By lunch, the sun is intense. So I meander back down to the café. The national beer of Mozambique is light and crisp with a low alcohol content. It’s the perfect all day drinking beer. It’s kept cold. The perfect cold for a hot, still day. Lunch and beers. Perhaps down to the ocean. Perhaps hanging out with Gianni and her husband Alex. Or a chat with the other folks staying at the lodge. There is a restaurant on the property next to theirs. “Walk down the beach and take a left at the pirate flag.” I’ll go just to take a left at the pirate flag.
Finally, the rains come. We are treated to a thunderstorm like the ones I grew up with in Texas. Big, window rattling thunderstorms. And just enough rain to cool things off. We will be comforted with an easy breeze for the rest of the stay.
Gianni and Alex arrange a day trip to a lodge off shore. Snorkeling, lunch, wake boarding, scuba. They seem to know everyone all up and down the eastern coast of Africa. We stop for dinner on the way back in Pemba.
It goes on like this for about 8 days. By the end, I have warmed to the core. Recharged. There is a quiet, calm comfort at their lodge without being boring. This was, undoubtedly, one of the more relaxing weeks of my life.
I can’t wait to go back.