Message in a bottle inspires a cross-continental friendship

2010-06-11 00:00

WHILE walking along the Mozambican shoreline in May this year, holidaymaker Fiona Marlton (55) of Creighton made an astounding discovery. Washed up on the beach, she spotted a glass bottle deposited on the sand by the waves. “Something drew me to it. I had a feeling that it wasn’t just litter,” said Marlton.

On closer inspection, Marlton saw it was a screw-top white wine bottle encrusted with sea shells and barnacles. “I picked it up, and lo and behold, there was a paper scroll rolled up inside,” said Marlton. In her excitement, Marlton opened the message which read, “Is it better to love or be loved?”.

Anne O’Sullivan, the writer of the message, had left her contact details and a request for the recipient to answer her question. Later that evening, Marlton made cellphone contact with the sender. When O’Sullivan answered the call, Marlton simply said, “I think it’s better to be loved.”

Marlton describes how O’Sullivan was “completely blown away” by the realisation that her message had made it all the way to Guinjata Bay in Mozambique.

While on a cruise from Australia to Singapore in March 2009, O’Sullivan had spent some time musing on the nature of life and love. As she later revealed to Marlton, this inspired her to enclose her question in a bottle and throw it overboard, after a stop on the Indonesian island of Komodo.

Neither O’Sullivan nor Marlton would have guessed that the fanciful notion of establishing contact via a message-in-a-bottle could ever become a reality. It took over a year, but for these two women, the ocean became the catalyst for a cross-continental friendship.

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