Yes, not one but three!!!
Bit of a story to tell first though!
Yes, I set off with the crazy french canadian couple, although goodness knows how they got me on the boat, I had so many rums the night before!
We left around 0300 and set sail, I woke at 0830 cuddling a bottle of water and my jumper aware of curious eyes staring at me from the rest of the passengers, the majority of whom were locals. Desperately needed the loo but that would entail squatting over the side of the boat or utilising a bucket. With so many people on board I decided to retain my dignity and suffer. Thankfully we arrived at Belo sur Mer around lunchtime, dignity lost as I scrabbled down the anchor chain, plopped into waist deep water and walked the mile of beach to the nearest hotel where we hung around for most of the day, me nursing a mammoth hangover, Xavier and Marie Ann having a great time on a kayak. Hotel people thought they were my children. Oh God. Xavier knocked up a lovely meal on board with some fresh fish we bought then we bedded down for the night. Not easy sleeping on the deck of a boat that is leaning at a 45 degree angle due to the tide going out, but I did relish in going to the loo 4 times whilst everyone else asleep!
We set sail again at 0600 and returned at 1230. The wind had changed direction and we were going nowhere. No guarantees that we could continue south in the morning, so I made the decision to abandon all hopes of sailing to Tuliara as it was just going to take too long. Somehow I managed to negotiate a boat heading north the next day back to Morondava. Spent the night in a tent....but with big squidgy mattress and pillows!
We were supposed to leave at 0300, but no boatman. He eventually arrived 0430, sea too rough, will try again at 0600. 0630 we finally get going. Thankfully the wind is still heading north although the other boat was also intending to leave at 0600 to head south???? I last saw the canadians disembarking with all their stuff.... did you guys ever make it????
Much smaller boat this time with the captain, a steersman or whatever you call it who spoke about three words of english, couple of giggling Malagasy females and an absolutely gorgeous taxi driver from Morondava who only spoke french. Unfortunately he had really rotten teeth and was only about 25 which is pushing it even for me!!!
The next 7 hours were spent on the hard deck, freezing cold being plied with biscuits and sweets from the girls who simply would not take no for an answer and giggled at every word I uttered either in english, french or malagasy. I was given lunch of rice and dried baby fish which was cooked on deck in a over a fire in a turtle shell. Yes a fire. On a wooden boat. Nooo, not concerned, I am sure turtle shells are totally inflammable!
Dee Dee the taxi driver was a total gentleman, giving me his bag to lean on, and half his fish. Bugger. The fish was disgusting, just salty bones. Yeuch! I did my best though and joined them in spitting bones overboard, great fun although I am not much of a spitter and most of it ended up back on my plate. Refrained from drinking anything in case I needed the loo!
Delighted to be back in Morandava which I love but unsure where to go from here. Bumped into the owner of the rum place, L'Oasis who insisted I come to watch the live music again. Resolved to stay off the rum, but met an english couple and ended up drinking too much beer!
They had just returned from Kirindy. A place that was on my list to go and see the Fosa but my last guide said there was only 30% chance of seeing one, so abandoned that idea in favour of going on a jolly up and down the coast in a leaky boat.
Tonia and Paul raved about the place saying there was a Fosa in the grounds and showed photos to prove it!
So, after spending a day nursing yet another hangover I set off at 0700 next morning in a taxi brousse to Kirindy. Less of a bus and more of a pick up truck. I get the seat next to the driver who chain smokes the whole way, driving like a lunatic sending billows of dust into the cab. The road is dire. I could have taken a private taxi but that would cost 25 quid and this was only 3. Ok so I have to walk the 5km to the park, but its a nice day and I have left the bulk of my luggage back at Morondava.
The walk is a lot easier with Mp3 player on and singing to Linkin Park. Probably scared even the Fosa away!
I have a luxurious bungalow with a bed, mossie net and a candle. Toilet usual long drop and bucket showers. After lunch I set off with my English guide who does actually speak English which is a first, but he has only been in the job for 2 weeks. Actually very good though and we are followed by a troop of adorable red fronted brown lemurs. Saw verrauxs Sifaka, a red tailed sportive lemur and an owl. On return to camp, the lemurs have come for a drink and are taking turns dipping their heads into an orange bucket trying to dodge the twat of a frenchman who is trying to feed them bananas. Poor things have never seen a banana!
The Fosa I am told, stole a duck from the kitchen the night before so dont hold out any hope of seeing it this evening. However, just as we are departing for the night walk, the wee beastie is coming out from near my bungalow! A female closely followed by a male who looks like he has been in a fight with a cheese grater.
They look just as sinister as they do in the movie, smaller though. Odd looking creatures, size of a large otter with big ears, long tail and teeth you would not like to come into contact with.
They forage around and devour the remains of some rice they found. I am just bursting with excitement and am dragged off by my guide who I have instructed to find me the nocturnal Fork Marked Lemur. To even his own suprise, he succeeded. Not hard though, these tiny little critters make a noise more deafning than an Iron Maiden concert!
The next morning I see another Fosa who is terrorising a poor chap trying to pack away his camping gear. He had cooked up a spag bol for his party to eat on their next trip and this Fosa was determined that he was not going to have to wash up!
On return to my bungalow, cheese grater was sitting outside and then spent the rest of the afternoon asleep, Molly style, in the forest next to me. Molly for those of you that dont know is my dog back home who likes to sleep, legs akimbo, on her back in the most unladylike fashion.
I still cannot believe it, Fosa, the scariest and most elusive creature in Madagascar, snoozing just 5 yards from me. The other two are all over the place all evening. The lemurs dont return, they would rather go thirsty than have another close encounter with a frenchman brandishing a banana. Much more dangerous than a Fosa!
This morning I set off for the 5km walk back to the road. Only waited 15 mins and I am hoiked aboard another pick up where, among others, a Malagasy paratrooper, with rifle, is agast that I should even endeavour to walk 5km. Goodness, you can do at least that on a trip to Tesco's (British supermarket)!
My presence amuses everyone and, even though open air, it still stinks. Not helped by the puddle of puke I am trying to keep a now very clean William out of. I have noticed that apart from the 3 germans I met in my first week here, I have never seen another tourist on the taxi brousse. Either they have more sense or too much money. I also now know why Malagasy's have big bottoms. Its padding for the taxi brousse. If you see a Malagasy with a small bottom, bet your arse they have their own car!
Taxi Brousse only goes as far as the junction of the road to Morandava. Another 14km. Experience tells me that being betwixt two major towns I am going to have a problem getting on another bus, let alone a seat.
14km. 5k's took me about an hour. Three hours... I'll be there in time for lunch, so I set off. Bewildered looks from everyone!
As expected, 3 buses pass me and after about an hour I am squeezed into a delapidated yellow minibus with no windows and the door held on by a piece of string. The 'conductor' hangs onto the side until he sees the police check, then he sits on my lap!
Strange these things, dont know if anyone really knows where to get off. Bus stops, one gets off. Then, after a little thought, another decides to disembark too. Then another thinks, Oh well, I may as well get off too. We are in the middle of nowhere and these people are always at the back, furthest from the door, have 16 children and a duck.
When I arrive in town, desperately need a shower and a beer, together! Find some beer but realise I have lost my penknife, so no bottle opener. You try miming a bottle opener! Eventually I am informed that it is called a decapitator or something and I am now the proud owner of a blue thing with a lovely picture of a famous football star. I dont know who he is, but he does not own his own car.
I am refreshed, hot shower, clean clothes and a belly full of beer. Now, do I go to L'Oasis tonight?
Maybe for just one medicinal rum or two. I am going down with a cold. The hotel man has told me to let him know in the morning if I am staying 2 nights or leaving for Antananarivo in the morning.
Will I ever leave Morondava????