A Travellerspoint blog

Madagascar - Tsiribihina River

Antsirabe to Morondava via Tsiribihina River

sunny 30 °C
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Well, I have arrived safely in Morondava on the west coast and not quite sure where to start!
Ok, from the beginning but leaving out the boring bits!
Travelled overland to a crazy town west of Tana with a Swiss and an Italian couple. Swiss spoke English,
Italians spoke little English and a little French so that was a bit difficult, but the guide managed to converse in
all three. Stayed overnight there then headed for the canoes the next morning after the delights of registering
at the police station, a dirty shack with posters of wanted errant pousse pousse drivers. They were delighted
at the arrival of 'the swiss bank'!
The canoes or pirogues known locally are the dug out kind, rucksacks are wedged in to use as back rests, with
matting over the top, 3 to a canoe plus two chickens. Those of you with me on the Okavango will know what I mean.
This was a similar trip but not quite so romantic with the tin mugs of white wine, the crystal clear waters of the
delta and the reeds brushing your face. This was more a bottle of water, river half a mile wide, red with the silt
and views accross the mountains. However, the soil here is loaded with quartz so the sand is like gold dust and
the river shimmers. Bathing in it leaves you looking like you have gone overboard with the glitter dust!
It really was quite amazing, especially when the mountains got closer and we were back in Raiders of lost ark
country, towering cliffs each side, erosion leaving deep caves and other geological descriptions of which I cannot
think. Egrets precariously perched on the cliff face and malachite kingfishers showing off their aerobatic expertise
above us, so fast that I never did get a photo of them, emerald green above and amber underneath, beautiful.
We camped at night on the sand banks and watched the sun go down with river chilled beer and rum while
our guide knocked up such culinary delights as zebu with ginger with sauteed vegetables followed by flambeed bananas.
Thought we were going to have chicken didnt you!! Nope, we fed the chickens and kept them comfortable but alas,
they were supposed to be for dinner. The tourists never like to eat the chickens and usually end up buying some fish.
Day two and we drifted along in the heat to a beautiful waterfall where we immersed our hot, tired and dusty red
bodies in the cool turquoise waters below. My first time under a waterfall, it was heaven!
A long afternoon rowing, lemur watching, sleeping and we stop on the bank by a village. As usual, hoards of
screaming kids shouting 'Vosa, vosa' Malagasy for white tourist, yes, like Mzungu in Swahili, disturbing our tranquility.
Our guide wants to buy fish for our dinner. A unanimous.... bollocks, kill the chickens! Well, they would have been eaten
anyway so why prolong their agony tied up on a boat. We just asked that we do not witness their deaths and we were
assured that it would be quick. With the addition of a coconut sauce, boy, that chicken tasted good!
One more long day on the river, the peace marred only with our oarsmans constant whistling and spitting ( the
Malagasy spit a lot;;;yeuch!). Luckily I took my MP3 player and so was seranaded by Robbie Williams and Vivaldi.
We were then taken by ox cart to our hotel.
Imagine if you will, two large zebu attatched to a wooden box with metal wheels. In a convoy of four of these things,
sitting astride our luggage we trundle off for 4km of mud, streams, low branches, screams of 'Vosa' accompanied
by hysterical laughter from them and us as we battled to stay on top as the zebu galloped, yes, galloped along
the path. At one point the river was waist deep so the luggage was suspended over ropes whilst we perched on
the cart sides clinging on for dear life.
The only casualty were my Gucci sunglasses bought for 3 quid in a Tana market. Yes of course they were genuine!
Problem was they were glass and managed to smash in my shorts pocket. I was lucky not to suffer severe lacerations
Our 'hotel' was local reed huts with long drop toilets and bucket showers. Think I have described these showers before.
Strip off behind a curtain and throw a bucket of river water over yourself, emerging dirtier than before, but refreshed!
Following day (still with me?) we set off in 4WD for the 110km over non existant road to Parc National de Tsingy.
It takes nine hours including short lunch stop and two ferries. 'Ferries' consist of two boats strapped together with
a few planks of wood on top and an outboard engine. Three landrovers scrabble aboard by way of a couple of sandmats;
Hey, it works. We arrive at our campsite at the onset of darkness and put up our tents. Luckily several bars around
so cold beer!
Next day we head off to the 'Big tingy'. This is bigger than that at L'Ankerana, a lot bigger. I start worrying when I am
strapped into a harness. Memories of Bungee jumping come flooding back. it was far worse than I imagined. Think after the
bunjee I have developed vertigo or something, I was bloody terrified. Scrambling, mountaineer style up the jagged rocks then
descending via narrow ladders, precariously placed rock 'steps' to deep and narrow caves, bent double then tummy suck in
tight ravines. It was horrible. But a case of no turning back. I have to admit though that the views were spectacular
but this time I did not grizzle over the splendour of it, just the fear of going back down again. I was pathetic!
It didnt help that the guides were useless either. We stopped for lunch in a cave so I went off to explore. It is 'Fady' (taboo)
to pee, smoke, swear or shout in the tsingy for fear of invoking the wrath of the ancesters that died there.
I found myself a nice little cavern, said bollocks quietly to the ancesters and had a fag. Far from being struck down, I saw the
elusive 'giant jumping rat' and some pretty impressive stalegtites. Think the ancestors felt sorry for me!
Feeling better, I bounded over the last of the bastard tsingy and trotted back to the car.
Today, I still cannot walk properly. I must have used muscles that I never knew existed. Muscles I think that
even God did not intend for me to have. I am in dire agony! My pride is also in tatters after I am informed that last week
a nine year old boy quite happily did the treck. I didnt ask the 70 year old man if he did it.
Next day we visited the Avenue de Baobabs, group of big fat bald trees that look pretty impressive when the sun goes down.
Ok, so it was fabulous, trees towering above us, glowing pink in the descending sun, mirrored in the
water lily filled lake next to them. Children gave us lilies for our hair and we all wore cheesy grins.
We are now all safely esconsed in our beachside bungalows in Morandava. I kid you not, I step out of my beautifully
decorated blue and white bungalow straight onto the beach. I even have a proper shower with hot water, a loo and
toilet paper. Bliss!
Tooooo much luxury!
I had intended to fly to Toliara from here but have been talked into doing an 8 day boat journey by a couple of
french canadian nutters!
We leave at 0200 tomorrow morning, board the large wooden sail boat and trust in the weather to get us to
Morombe in three or four days time, stopping at a couple of villages on the way to sleep on the beach, buy
fish and cook our dinner over a fire.
We then get a small pirogue with sails to take us the next three to four days to Toliara. This time however
we pass a huge coral reef where we can go swimming and snorkling etc.
We have bought a large bottle of rum, I think we may need it.
Well, why take an hours flight when you can have an eight day adventure????? Huh??????
The captain speaks no english or french and between us three, all we can say in malagasy is
thank you very much and goodbye. Hah!!!!
Oh God help me.....watch this space! All I can say is, when I get to Toliara, I want the beach 'inside' my hotel room!
Speak to you all in a week or so....or so....

Posted by baluba 11:33 Archived in Madagascar Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Madagascar - Ankaranfantsika

Mahajunga to Antananarivo

sunny 28 °C
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Excuse me if this is all a load of nonsense, I am trying to type through eyelids held open with toothpicks. I would use matches but they make them of wax out here and they keep melting and I prefer to pluck my eyebrows!
Think I left you in Mahajanga.
Thursday I duly got up at 0500, taxi to taxi brousse station to get the 0700 to Ampijoroa. It was quite prompt in leaving at 0900. Definately chose the right company, was in best seats in both busses and dropped off neatly outside Parc National d'Ankarafantsika. Its taken me three days to remember how to say that! This is the place where they are doing the tortoise breeding program of the ones that that have to have a fight before they get horny (its a long story!) plus the Coquerels Sifakas ( thats the fluffy white ones that 'dance'). Rooms were horrendously expensive, same price as my hotel in Mahajanga but no tv, no en suite, not even any bloody windows! But clean and comfy and had electricity more often than not. Unfortunately light in the loos was only in the one that did not flush and bugger me came complete with frog!
Booked all my guided tours (cant be trusted to go alone, may get ravaged by a rabid tortoise!), told him, just want to see Sifakas and ok may as well see the scary crocodiles and the canyon thingy whatever that is but no, I have seen a zillion Baobabs.
Spent the afternoon in a flat bottomed boat thing going round the lake which I have to admit was outstandingly beautiful. Signs all round warning that crocodiles bite (really?). But all around the lake are people fishing, doing their washing, having a picnic etc. Eventually we see a croc on the bank. It gave a look of 'Oh shit, a human' and scurried into the water. We saw it twice more but the guide was adamant we saw three. Ok.
Returning to the park campsite my 'English' speaking guide pointed out that the lemurs were in the tree. So wh have I just paid out a fortune to go see them tomorow???
It was quite incredible though and I was a pig in poo. Four Coquerels Sifakas bounding around the trees,one had a tiny baby. I took tons of photos then lady at reception told me that later they will descend to go accross the road. I watched them for two hours, they were incredible. A crowd of children gathered but the lemurs were not phased and proceded to 'dance' accross the road. I ran off tons of shots and couldnt resist a 'wooohooo!' when I reviewed them. Next thing I know I am surounded by children looking at my photos. We all then went to take photos of the rare Mongoose Lemur in a nearby tree, then a group photo of the kids, and a bird 'take photo, take photo!' Eventually their teacher relieved me of them.
Then I did a night walk, saw Sportive and mouse lemurs with their big red eyes. I love the Sportive, they always have a look of utter bemusement.
Next day, trundled around the forest, no Sifakas cos they are all in the bloody camp grounds! But we did see other stuff so enjoyed it, then it was traipse (is that right,) through the savannah, hot and bored. As usual my guides english consisted of words I have never heard of and we spent the day having conversations ending in 'oh never mind'.
The earth was getting redder and redder then all of a sudden it just opened up into this oh my golly gosh canyon. I was speechless, gobsmacked. This place had no mention in Lonely Planet and at the reception it was just, a canyon!
Some bloody canyon! Amazing rock formations in hues of red, pink, peach and yellow. We decended down into the canyon and you could see these beautiful colours in layers swirled into the rock. Ok, you know those tacky bottles of different coloured sand you get in the Isle of White, well, I was inside one of those bottles. There were fairy chimneys, sheer cliffs, dry gullies. I think I wore out the word 'Wow', a new one for my guide. 'This is canyon, it is wow'.
Unfortunately he knew zilch about how it occured, what the different colours were or anthing, so I contented myself with taking psychadelic photos. I do know though that most of it was sand, cos everytime I went ' whats this,', it came away in my hand. Oooops!
I was wearing a beige shirt, when I returned it was bright orange and muddy mixed with my sweat. And I had another of those big cheezy grins on my face.
Dont know if I have mentioned before, but rather than getting fit with all this walking, have developed dodgy hips. 3 hours is OK, 4 and its ok, think I need to sit now, 5 and I wonder whether I shall ever walk again. Bang goes my idea of joining an expedition!
This was 5 hours. I spent the afternoon just watching the birds over the lake, then back to watch the Sifakas, then over there to watch the Mongoose Lemurs, then oh, the brown lemurs are awake. They are funny, spent the evening trying to terrorise an bunch of zebu ( the camel with horns and short legs). Subsequently, stiff neck!
Next day, I conceded to another walk to try and find a leaf tailed gecko. An hour later a delighted guide shows me a rhinocerous chameleon. Ok, I can see the connection and I have never seen one of these before so, yes, well done! Another hour later I think he twigged and informed me that you dont often see leaf tails in the dry season. But he did find the most incredible catterpillar cleverly disguised as a tree. And a parrot.
My bus is supposed to collect me from the park at 1930. I sit outside at 1700 in case it is early as yesterday all the Tana buses went past at 1700. It came at 2000. It was very dark out there. My seat was the six inch space over the rear wheel arch behind the girl whos seat back was not fixed and liked to fidget, and next to the young boy who wanted to sleep horizontally. We arrived at Tana (Antananarivo for short) at 0500. Tired, hungry and bruised. Hoped that the hotel would let me in at that time, but my little oasis did not fail me and after a hot shower I was soon stuffing my face with pancakes and copious amounts of coffee. Desperately trying not to sleep as I will be up all night if I do. Only thing open in town is the Patiserrie and the supermarket. I have wine, chocolate splodge and french tv.
Au revoir!

Posted by baluba 11:02 Archived in Madagascar Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Madagascar - Ankarana

Diego Suarez to Ankarana

sunny 25 °C
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Oh my goodness I hardly know where to start!
Ok So I met an American couple in Diego who agreed to let me come on the excursion to L'Ankerana with them, not sure if I have told you this bit already.
Anyway we all met up to go to the three bays around Diego which was quite superb and Tyler and Cassie were great (and I am not just saying that cos they are included in the email!!!), not your usual americans but they live in the Marshall Islands, dont like Bush and like beer. Perfect!
So I wont bore you with the beaches even though they were spectacular cos I have so much more to tell you!
I dont know if you knew already but having just finished a book about a female doctor who went to Ankarana on an expedition, I just had to see this place which is why I went to so much trouble to get there.
Well, the place lived up to expectations and more.
We arrived after a short 2 hour drive from Diego, staying in very basic huts, just a bed, no electricity and minimal water. Showering consists of stripping off in a cupboard and throwing a mug of water over yourself!
That afternoon we went to see the 'Petite Tsingy'. Hard to explain if you have never seen it, pinnacles of limestone, sharp as razors. Much more impressive than I expected and we walked accross it, yup, there is me in a pair of shorts and my crocs tentatively making my way accross this evil terrain, honest, if you slipped it would be serious swear words, incredible pain, air lift, stitches and plastic surgery! But the crocs didnt fail me!
On route we had a brief glimpse of a crowned lemur but even he was not as spectacular as this Tsingy stuff. It was awesome, with weird baobabs, endemic just to Madagascar, like great splodges on the landscape crawling out of the limestone. From the viewpoint we could see the forests, caves and voilcanic flows beneath us.
We descended down, and down till we were approaching the caves. Honest to goodness I expected Harrison Ford to be there to meet us with the Lost Ark, it was incredible. These great gaping caves surrounded by the limestone cliffs adorned by vines and creepers, we were like lemurs ourselves descending, swinging from one tree to the next, lowering ourselves down.
We then entered the first cave,where the small bats were. I was terribly brave and went all the way in! it was gihuge! Bats flying everywhere, disturbed by our torches. There were even some old bones in there, remnants of the ancestors who hid there from the bloody french (now wouldnt we all like a cave to hide from them in!). Reemergiong it was to the big cave with the flying foxes. There was a small river running through it, opaque green, really eerie. The banks were quite steep and my feet were already sweating so didnt want to slip down into the dark river so I stayed outside. Actually I was dying for a piss and it is 'Fady' (taboo) to piss in the caves, but I admit, I relieved myself behind a rock and whispered apologies to the ancestors, I am sure they understood and probably pissed there themselves. Hah! Didnt know that did you C and T!!
The following day we went trudging off into the forest. At the point when I was thinking, OK, had enough now!, we saw a pair of Sanfords Lemurs, beautiful with their white collars bounding around ther trees. Happier now we carried on up,and up, and up... to the top of a hill with a 360 degree view. And there, before me, were the Grande Tsingy. Miles of miles of Tsingy hundreds of feet high, sheltering its pockets of forests and troops of lemurs. It was breathtaking. I had only ever seen small snippets on TV and a picture on a postcard of this stuff and there it was in all its glory rtight in front of me. I sat down and cried, much to the amusement of our guide, no one has ever cried looking at the tsingy before! But I was utterly gobsmacked and realised at that point, right there and then, what a bloody lucky individual I am. I may be poor as hell and a prime candidate for bankruptcy at the moment, but my goodness, what amazing experiences I have had. I have a wealth of memories that no one can ever take from me. This one was right up there with Maccu Piccu and Dune 17, it even topped the pyramids, the delta and all that other stuff. Stunning.
Ok, enough adjectives. That afternoon it just kept getting better, we came accross a tiny Lepilemur in its tree hollow, the most adorable creature ever to walk on this earth. Then, passing through, over and under more tsingy, we got up close and personal to the big stuff.
We sat, precariously on top of the rocks looking over it it as far as the horizon as the sun went down. Our guide, Angelda had joked on the way there that I was going to cry again when I saw this, but even my tear ducts were stunned.
Finally tearing ourselves away it was back through the forest, wonderfuil in the semi darkness, a pair of lemurs following us and calling in the trees. As darkness fell we got to our final treat. A dry riverbed at the point where, during the rainy season three rivers join to cascade down a hole a good 80 feet in diameter to
join the underwater river. More Raiders of the Lost Ark stuff! This hole was deep deep! I am sorely tempted to return in the rainy season just to see the spectacle of this massive whirlpool in the middle of this crazy forest.
There was so much more too, but I dont have the time to relay everything! Suffice to say we saw four lemur species, evidence of Aye Aye and had the most fantastic time all round.
Beer all round that night!
Next morning previous nights dinner rumblin, rushed to the loo accross the field. Yes, there is also a loo in a cupboard, no seat or water, but a loo and paper. You have to flush using a bucket from the well.
Anyway, just as I was going in with the first bucket, to my horror I thought I had seriously misjudged my squatting position as I looked upon this splodge on the rim. Torch revealed it to be a small brown tree frog, who made a leaf of faith into the bowl to dodge my bucket! Noooo! Dare not contemplate the consequences of him making another leap and ending up in the digested remains of bean and zebu stew, managed to grab him mid leap and saved from the noxious goings on below! Hah!!!

The next day welLeft the reserve and I was dropped at the next town to catch a bus to Mahajunga where I have decided to make a detour to visit another reserve...solo! Feeling all adventurous now! Said goodbyes to Cassie and Tyler? I shall actually miss those guys!
This was at 0830 ish. Bus due to leave at 1400. Luckily it was independance day so lots of processions going on and the whole town was alive. peering over the sea of children (actually made one cry... never seen a white woman before.. or maybe the faces I was pulling, dunno. Anyway, a young lad starts to speak to me in his broken English, ended up parading me in front of everyone he knew that spoke even just two words of English, dragged me off to the river to see where the great battle was fought which was now filled with large penised males bathing themselves. A case of up yours Ramena???
We then joined his other friend whose english was really quite good and I spent the afternoon being paraded around the streets. Michels, the second guy was really very sweet, gave me his necklace, almost cried when I revealed a photo of his home town on nosy be and I think we shall remain friends. He is only 20 bless him and desperate to get out of Mad and to France to study. Mad!
Bus finally left at 1600. At some point I lost my phone, no idea what hapenned, buit determined not going to let it get to me, even though it harbours the only photo of me in front of the pyramids, the theme tune to madagascar and the video clip of the gazelle running into a tree. No matter.
It was a bloody long journey. Road fine for a while then disintegrated so much that it could not longer be called a road. Gullys 3 feet deep; Eventually arrived at 0630 where I had to change buses. The next 140km took 3 hours. I turned up at a hotel filthy dirty having not had a proper shower for three days, covered from head to foot in red dust, tired and hungry.
Hotel cheap but fab. En suite with hot water, even a bidet! TV and verandah. Immediately washed all my clothes, my crocs, me. Left the bathroom all muddy and went into town.
Have booked my buses to get me to the reserve tomorrow plus one to Tana on Saturday evening. Another overnight drive. Ugh!
There is so much more but really have to go and buy a new phone plus the luchtime beer is wanting out. So, shall speak to you all in a few days with my trials and tribulations of the Parc National d'Ankaranfantsika and the journey to Antananarivo.

Posted by baluba 10:54 Archived in Madagascar Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Madagascar - Diego Suarez

Diego Suarez

sunny 22 °C
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Oh why oh why do I never save to drafts???
Sent you all a huge email this morning about the trials and tribulations of the last few days only to discover it did not send.
Maybe a good thing, was in foul mood with this bloody country!
In a sentence, spent an extra day in Nosy Be just to send some parcels home then they still wouldnt send them, so come to Diego and they still wont send them, long long story, suffice to say my arms hurt from carrying them halfway around Madagascar, Dad, Tony and John, I will have to drink your Rum, mum, no chocolate and everyone else, no presents yet. Shall bundle everything up and take it back to Joburg with me when I go and send it from there, believe me it will be easier, and even if I have to bin all my clothes in order to keep within the luggage limit, it will still be cheaper to buy new ones. Luckily my hotel in Tana allows me to keep luggage there.
This morning I was spitting feathers believe me!
Still, having spent an extra day on the beach I now have a tan to be proud of!
Yesterday I spent 10 hours travelling with various chickens, ducks and diorrhoeaetic babies to get here, but having just met 2 spanish girls who spent 40 hours on the stinkobus, I am no longer complaining! I have that to do next week, oh god!!! But with all my extra luggage, I will not be able to fly. Still, I now have 3 bottles of Rum and umpteen bars of chocolate to ease the way!!
Am staying the next few days with the spanish girls, they are having the same language problems as me, but at least we can all converse in English. Planning on a trip to Ankarana but first they want to see the beach here, mor'e bloody beaches!!! However, nothing else to do here while I wait to go to Ankarana with them!
Last couple of days on Nosy Be were interesting, 12 people in a renault 4, group of children sitting with me on the beach listening to Robbie Williams on my MP3 player, subsequently spending too long on the beach and getting a bit burnt.
Cant remember if I told you about the south african i had to lock out of my room.
Everything else is just Madagascar and I think I am getting used to it and its frustrations.
Its now nearly 4pm and am starving, all the cafes close for lunch! Madagascar!!!! Everything closes 1200 to 1500. Bloody lazy gits!
So going to find something to eat, then I shant want any dinner!
Talking of dinner, had the most amazing 3 course lunch for 8 quid on nosy be. Get this ... Carpaccio de carpe rouge, bruchettes de merou avec saute legumes followed by eclair du chocolat avec un sauce vanille. It was what you would expect from the Ritz but in bigger portions. Stuffed or what!
Oh ok, I shall translate.... Thin slivers of red carp (raw) in a sort of vinaigrette followed by huge kebabs of some fish or other and a mountain of sauteed veg, baby leeks, french beans etc. Followed by 2 eclairs stuffed full of chocolate mousse and covered with a vanilla cream; Oh and a large beer of course!
Blow out cheeks and make face and noise like a pig... oui c'est moi!!!
Oh foood!!!!!
Patisserie opening accross the road....

Posted by baluba 10:52 Archived in Madagascar Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Madagascar - Nosy Be

Nosy Be etc.

sunny 27 °C
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Making the most of a fairly decent internet connection and finally got around to reading all your emails. Thank you all so much for the birthday wishes, it was so nice that so many of you remembered!
Spose I had better tell you whaat I have been up to!!
Weeelll.... not sure if I told you that I got pissed off with the rain so got myself a flight out to Nosy Be, small collection of islands off the northwest coast. Supposedly where all the holidaymakers go, eek, but was in desperate need of some sunshine and a nice beach!
Well, plane was full of frogs and suchlike but heard an english voice at the airoport, turned out to be a Canadian having a few days over there whilst his poor girlfriend was in the back of beyond somewhere in the piss pouring rain counting lemurs. We decided to catch a cab together to the capital, Hellville (!), it was dark and we needed a hotel, found a cheap place with sporadic electric and cold showers next to a disco, but it was clean and had a loo, no seat on it but a loo all the same. Anyway, cut a long story short we ended up spending the next few days together, god he was dull!!!!
Desperately looking for somewhere nice to spend my birthday, the whole island appeared to be full of dirty old frenchmen with young Malagasy girls, disgusting!!! Found an amazing beach up north but only one hotel and very expensive. Then I organised us a trip over to two other islands, the first had semi tame black lemurs which I fed on my shoulder...big cheesy grin photos!.... plus a lively craft market and a great hotel right on the beach, booked my bubngalow there and then for the next night. From there we went to an uninhabited island where I tried proper snorkling for the first time ( that is swimming with it on other than perched on the side of a rock with my face stuck in the water)... oh my goodness what a treat! There is a veritable kaleidascope of colours out there! All manner of funny fish with crazy markings, pointy noses and overlong fins! I saw puffa fish, sea urchins (first time not in someones foot), and not one monster! Not even a wee one!
On land there were a group of very noisy flying foxes and apparantly some lemurs but I did not see them; We had a magnificent luch on the beach of prawn and beef kebabs, whole fish, crab, rice, salad, bread and a great big plate of tropical fruit. yum yum!
So... next day (9th) I shouted a goodbye to my boring friend who, by the way, I found snogging a french girl on the beach.. I just hope his girlfriend is shagging the professors! Got a speedboat, well, a pirogue (dug out canoe) with an outboard engine over to my hotel. Oooooh it was so lovely! My own little house on the beach with 4 poster and verandah where I watched the sun go down every evening. I had a pet gecko too... used to steal my honey at breakfast, plus a pair of puppies who would join me on my morning walk along the beach. Went to see the lemurs again and spent a small fortune in the craft market.
My actual birthday I did bugger all, leisurly breakfast then spent the whole day on the beach. Cocktails before dinner and a bottle of wine finished off on my verandah listening to the waves. Oh bliss!!!! This place is costing me 24 quid a night which includes breakfast and dinner, not bad huh! What makes it better is that my family gave me money for my birthday which paid for the whole thing!
Next day the others staying there wanted to go to the island for snorkeling so I went with them. This time I walked all around the island and up and over the top via the lighthouse. Coming back down I spotted a lemur! So excited, off I went into the forest to track them down, totally oblivious to the thousand or so mosquitos that had now firmly attatched themselves to my legs.
Lost the lemurs but not the mossies, spent the next day looking like I had a bad case of the pox!
Finally tore myself away from there yesterday, now staying in Hellville, back at the first hotel. I now have a seat for my toilet, but it is on the floor! And the way the bathroom is layed out, I have a nice view of my toilet from my bed.
Today I went off to Lokobe National reserve, covered in Lemurs again, and.... I rowed us there in a dug out canoe! Thats me, couple of dutch geeks, guide and some bloke that owned the boat. It was great! Covered myself with anti mossie stuff this time! Also saw a boa constrictor and a hog nosed snake thingy. Best of all was I saw a lepilemur, tiny little nocturnal thing, utterly adorable, thrilled to bits.
Just trying to see one more island then I am out of here, oh, saw a turtle other day too, going to get a boat of some sort to the mainland then stinkabus to Diego up at the north where I shall organise a trip to Ankarana where the tsingy are (limestone pinnacles) and lots of lemurs.
Yup, back to the hard travelling again, mind you not all roses here, they regularly get 8 people in an ordinary saloon car which invariably gets a puncture and you end up stood at the side of the road in the dark with a bunch of young Malagasy girls looking like their 'madam'! Have had crabs attacking me in the footwells too. The island has electricity....when it feels like it. Last internet connection I had was 11mbps, seriously! Today I am cruising at 100mbps. And I dont remember the last time I had a hot shower. My clothes are all in desperate need of a wash and my hair is a bloody mess. Have a great tan though!!! Oh god, first hot shower... it could all be gone! Shite!
Anyway, word has got out that the internet is working, generator sounding decidedly dodgy so better get this sent and off tout suite!
I promise I shall get around to replying to your individual emails as soon as I have the time and the electric.
Till then, take care, I am off to dodge potholes in the dark.

Yup, its unbelievable but once again I found myself in paradise yesterday!
I thought had seen all of the worlds most beautiful places but this one topped the lot.
Way out in the indian ocean, two small islands interconnected by a strip of sand a kilometre long.
The sand was that lovely white stuff like powdered milk, the sea crystal clear in all shades of turquoise and blue and a huge huge blue sky, with nothing else around for miles and miles. All of us just stood there and gasped.
Ate the usual lunch of barracuda, huge prawns on sticks, zebu kebabs, crab, coconut rice, fruit... and beer! Surounded by chickens and ducks, sort of takes the edge off it a bit!
Back to Hellville with a thump! I now have to stay here an extra day so I can go to the post office on Monday which is a bugger, itching to get away now and to the north of the main island where the limestone pinnacles (tsingy) are, plus huge caves with crocodiles, underground rivers, and, of course, lemurs!
Sat drinking beer with a South African chap last night, it was so nice to have a conversation in english instead of my stilted franglaise! However I ended up having to lock myself in my room when he started getting a bit fresh! Luckily he left today so am safe.
What to do this afternoon. Beach I suppose, lunch, beer, swim, laze. Bloody hate it!!! But it beats walking around town dodging taxi drivers, chickens, ducks, potholes etc. People are so friendly though, you cant get cross with the constant 'taxi madam?' 'Bonjour Madam, ca va? ...taxi??'
Even when you have just emerged from a taxi there is another one waiting.. taxi madam? No, I just bloody well got here!!! Sometimes I suprise them and say 'Oui!' and I am bundled into an already bursting Renault 4 ...bonjour madam...taxi? I give up.

You can tell I am bored, I am rattling on. I shall go now, and email my mum and dad, they dont mind if I prattle on! Actually supposed to be looking up tour companies for my trip to Ankarana and see if it is much cheaper to do it on my own, but the thought of a repeat of the last time, just me, a non english speaking guide with the personality of a stick insect, being frog marched round a forest... Lemur...bird...bird...lemur.. home. nah, need to find a group of people to go with, even if they are bloody french.

Ok, I'm going...oh, have you noticed I have now got used to the keyboard?
Whe I am back in south africa it will be qll over the plqze qgqin§§§§ Hah!

Posted by baluba 10:45 Archived in Madagascar Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

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