2012-10-12 10

            

Two Mahorese ladies, decorator and decoratee during a Tourism Committee festival. They draw geometrical figures and flowery shapes on their faces for all sorts of ceremonies, from weddings to end-of-year school parties, generally with a white paste. Sometimes, as they're already wearing their beauty masks, the drawings have to go over the top and aren't so easy to see.

         

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Typical view of a Mahorese village in the mountains. The most traditional houses are made of wattle and daub, the more recent ones are made of corrugated iron or flattened petrol barrels. The houses are all on top of each other, all the way up the hills, often fairly colourful. Some Mahorese houses are made of concrete blocks, but they're hardly ever finished because as soon as one part is finished, the whole family gets to work to build the next bit according to how much money they have. Often, the family will set the foundations and build the ground floor. When the eldest girl gets married, she is given the roof of the ground floor to build the next level of the house. This can go on for quite a while.

           

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Water buffalo on the small island, happily eating banana skins out of a discarded fridge. There is a lot of rubbish here: when we went out in the glass-bottomed boat recently, we saw a rusty fridge come floating past us! Not surprising therefore that some enterprising farmer found a use for the fridges, washing-machines and cars that lie abandoned pretty much everywhere.

        

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Indoor and outdoor market scenes in different places. This is women's work: they'll sit and sell their fruit and vegetables all day, every day. Often, the women go to sleep while waiting for customers who are rather few and far between: an arriving customer just has to wake the lady up, and she'll serve him before going straight back to sleep.

       

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Fishing boats on the beach and near Mamoudzou. This is the men's work. They go out at dawn in these little fishing boats and bring back a boatload of fish in the middle of the afternoon. Everybody knows when the fishermen will be back, so they wait for them and buy the fish straight from them as they arrive. There are also "fish wheelbarrows", wheelbarrows full of fish which is sold by the side of the road by a guy with a chopping board and a couple of sharp knives.

           

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The ylang-ylang distillation plant in the centre of the larger island. It distils ylang-ylang flowers to make essential oil and perfume - about 25,000 flowers for 1 litre of perfume, which is one of the most popular items people bring back from Mayotte. Ylang-ylang flowers are also prized as jewellery: redrawn and made out of gold, they're the favourite possession of many a bouéni (lady) here.

          

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Rather fantastic letter-boxes which can be seen in several areas in Mayotte. They're told that if they want their letters to arrive, they need a standard-size letter-box... which, to give them credit, most of them have. However, instead of bothering setting them all up neatly, each person just bangs his letter-box post into the ground wherever seems best at the time. Also, they don't bother with pretty little labels giving names and addresses : they'll just write their name on the front of the box with Tipp-Ex.