The man who lived

I know I am very late with this post. And I apologize to those concerned. But how do you write about people who are not here any more? It is a difficult task and a big responsibility.

***

I don’t remember how I met Maurizio but the expat community is small in Sudan, so it was probably through a common friend or at an expat party. Maurizio was an outgoing and charming Italian gentleman, who spent his life on a boat sailing between the Mediterranean, Yemen, Djibouti and Sudan. I met him in 2001, by when he had been based in Port Sudan repairing his boat for almost one year.Boreas of KatharinaFollowing Maurizio’s invitation, I flew to Port Sudan for a long weekend and he came to pick me up at the airport on his motorbike. I was properly dressed, as one needs to be in Sudan, but we were stopped at the exit gate of the airport by a young boy pointing his gun at us. To be precise, the gun was pointing at my head. Apparently it was too sexist that a man and a woman sit on the same motorbike. While I kept looking at the gun, hoping it will not explode by accident, Maurizio talked his way out of the situation. Off we drove, to the harbor where Boreas of Katharina, his boat, was waiting for its first guest.

What a holiday I had! What a pleasant time we shared! It was one of the happiest weekends of my life and I am sure it was for him too. Maurizio was the captain, and in addition he had two Yemeni assistants. And then there was me. A young girl from Finland. Out in the big sea with strangers. With strangers who treated me like a princess. And that’s how everyone called me, The Princess of Katharina.Maurizio and the teamEvery morning after breakfast we had our first dive. Turtles, wrecks, sharks, big fish. One of us always stayed on the boat to prepare food, which was usually sushi as Maurizio called it. Fresh raw fish from the Red Sea. Delicious. After a siesta we continued diving. One time we went very deep. Very, very deep. It was to watch hammerhead sharks. An other time we descended to the bottom of the sea and stayed still. A dozen of sharks were circling us. I will always remember those eyes looking at me.the red sea SudanMaurizio was a very happy man. He loved his boat and his life. He knew how to live. He appreciated every sunrise and every sunset. Every sushi meal was a blessing. He dived as I have never seen anyone else dive. Skillfully, carefully but fearlessly. He loved the Red Sea and the Red Sea loved him. At least that is how it seemed. Port SudanEventually my weekend came to an end. And a bit later, my work contract finished, too, and I left Sudan. Maurizio and I stayed in touch by email and telephone, and he would always tell me stories about fishing and diving trips. He sounded very happy. Like a man who lives as he always dreamed of living. Until The Storm came.

Last year I started noticing something strange on his Facebook page. I don’t speak Italian but I could sense that something is wrong. Eventually, I got in contact with Maurizio’s sister who told me about The Storm.

Like in 2001, Maurizio was again returning to Port Sudan to have his boat maintained. The Storm came and his boat lost a mast. Maurizio kept diving very deep to find it and during one of the many attempts, the bubbles stopped. And that’s it. The bubbles stopped, period. Difficult to believe, even more difficult to accept.

Until today, Maurizio has not been found. How awful and haunting that sounds like.  But as his sister wrote to me, “he died in the way he would have chosen”. I know it brings little comfort to his family and loved ones, but I agree with this sentence. I have rarely met a happier person, and I will always be thankful to Maurizio for that amazing long weekend I spent with him, his team and precious Boreas of Katharina. Good bye Maurizio. I am sure you are a happy man wherever you are now. sunset Sudan

PS If you read Italian, you can find articles here:

http://www.ilrestodelcarlino.it/macerata/cronaca/2013/07/05/914998-skipper-maurizio-pazzelli-scomparso-mar-rosso.shtml

http://www.cronachemaceratesi.it/2013/07/05/skipper-maceratese-scomparso-in-mare-mau-e-felice-dove/348188/

17 thoughts on “The man who lived

    1. Miia Post author

      Thanks for commenting. Yes, sad and beautiful. Took me almost one year to do this.. I was often thinking about what to write but could not start the actual writing part until today.

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    1. Miia Post author

      Thanks for commenting.
      He is one of those thousands of human beings who I met during my travels but he was special because he was very kind. And truly happy.

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  3. Packing my Suitcase

    Oh my God….so sad!! I loved the way you wrote the text to tell his story and express your feelings…its so nice of you! I think it was his time to go… and as you said, he was a very happy person, and he died doing what he loved to do, where he loved to be. 😦

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  4. Indah Susanti

    Lovely tribute for him, Miia. I am touched with this story. It is always hard to say goodbye to a dear person we know.
    Sudan is in my bucket list for diving. I have been wanting to go there. You are so lucky to have been diving in Sudan and to know a good person there.

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    1. Miia Post author

      Glad you liked the story! It took me ages to write this but I am happy with the result. I think it “gives justice” to him. He also invited me to Yemen many times but I never had a chance to go.

      Since I left Sudan, Hilton has opened (maybe other chains too?) and I know they organize dive tours. Let me know if you are going!

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  5. Rudolf Dellmour

    dear miia, what you are telling about Maurizio, is the first written account i have found eventually about what has happened to him, or what might have happened; i do not know where you got this info from; i knew maurizio from a few trips to the red sea and to the gulf of dadjura in 2010 and 2011 when we lived in sanaa; after spring 2011 we had to leave yemen and moved to Dubai and we lost a bit contact with Maurizio and our yemeni friends; Maurizio came for a visit to our house while still in sannaa and we kept in email touch for a while untill i wanted to meet him again in the red sea in 2013 when i got devastating about him; the news were absolute shocking and i could not believe it! so i contacted a friend of ours at that time, who was still living in sanaa and a person he closely knew in sanaa; both gave me quite contrary informations – one was, that he is still alive, but taken hostage (on a Sudanese Island) and the other one touches your account; quite confusing; he brought me in touch with the writings from Henry de monfreid who was a friend of maurizios father in erithrea; i would like to know more and try to contact an old friend of Maurizio; thank your for your empathic account on Maurizio!

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    1. Miia Post author

      Hi Rudolf, I can put you in contact with Maurizio’s sister if you like? Please send me your email address and I will forward it to the sister, if you like.
      Take care & thanks for reaching out!

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