1 | November, 2017
We depart on our first mission: To do research and gather footage for the pilot of our dhow documentary. Daniel remembers Ilha de Moçambique as a definitive juncture of the birth of this entire undertaking. He finds himself back on the tiny and significant island with myself, Carinè. We have gargantuan ideals for this trip. But, as with any time you try to plan life, the plot veers far off course...
It still serves as the start of our dhow journey. Even though the seed sprouted in Daniel's heart after completion of his ±2000km barefoot walk from Cape Town to the South African/Mozambican border (when he saw a dhow and realised that his trek must continue with one of these remarkable boats) this trip to Ilha de Moçambique is where we started feeding the dream. Giving it life. Where the first memories were made of an expedition that would take its own serendipitous route.
The plan was simple: We travel to Mozambique to find a dhow fundi (master builder) who will help us build our own wooden boat – which we intend to sail all the way to the birthplace of these vessels – far north towards Oman, or even India. We do this in order to tell the story of the Arabic, Swahili and Portuguese history of the East African coast and trade routes – to retrace the narrative of dhow boats, and to capture the story of the precious heritage of building these time-honoured elders of the Indian Ocean as the protagonists of this splinter of world history.
The reality: We stack up far too much travel content film work for ourselves as a way to fund the trip. Our attention is divided. We gather fantastic leads and do substantial research. We film interviews, meet fundis, gather leads, travel to Ibo Island, meet more fundis, meet dhow owners, learn about dhow building, see, smell and hear dhow building. We go dhow sailing, we fall in love with dhow sailing. We dream about our own dhow. We dream about our documentary, we dream and dream and dream. And then, the trip is over. We get back home with a slightly jarred feeling in our hearts. We're excited, but something is amiss. Are we missing a hook for our documentary?
Back home in Cape Town, we work through our footage and it fuels the dream, and fuels our hopefulness, but we get inundated with obligations and commitments. And as we listen to our interviews and watch them and align it with the bigger picture, we realise more and more that the jarring feeling we had carried substance. We need something bigger. We need meaning. We need purpose for this story! But what exactly IS this meaning and purpose?
So life goes on. We never lose sight of our dhow dream, but our focus shifts. After all, we have bills to pay, and life has a tendency to go on. We keep busy by filming content for clients and then we get a huge opportunity: we get to produce and manage social media for the National Geographic Okavango Wilderness Project's Cuando 2018 expedition. To say that we learned a lot on this journey, is to put it as mild as a listless hippo in lukewarm water. We will forever be grateful to our friend Kostadin Luchansky, for sharpening our work by inspiring us with his superb craftsmanship and impetus – including his modest demeanour and interpretation of life. Then, to Kaya and Steve – the National Geographic team – who cemented our jarring feeling in the astute knowledge that we needed a character and bigger cause for our dhow documentary. It was on this expedition that we perfected our purpose in that we wanted to tell a bigger story with our documentary. That we wanted our documentary to mean something.
We learned that in order to tell a good story, purpose and passion has to be unreservedly in love in order to bare a child that will become a creation of substance and inspiration. To exist for the purpose of meaning something and to create lasting change.