Wednesday 18 May 2011

Madagascar Honeymoon, Post #4: 15 to 16 April 2011

15 April 

In Manakara, we are staying at the Parthenay Club, a hotel right by the beach. In fact, we were having trouble sleeping during our first night, because the Indian Ocean is just too loud. And for somebody who likes to go to sleep to the sounds of her Ocean-Surf-CD, that is saying a lot!

Anyway, we have breakfast and then drive to meet our guide for the morning's excursion on the Pangalese Canal. This canal stretches over 600 km all the way up to the North of the island and is an important for trade and fishing. We will only spent about an hour on its waters.

Our guide is Benoit, an English teacher from in town, who apparently always gets called when there are English-speaking tourists to show around. We take a wooden pirogue and the boatmen row us slowly along. The water on the canal is calm, but it is a windy day, and when we take a short walk along the ocean, it is hard to believe that fishermen go out to sea in their little vessels, that are nothing but a hollowed out tree trunk.

Traditional fishing village with huts built from palm leaves. Benoit explains that the huts are mostly used as a place to sleep and that village life is very communal, with people sharing their resources and space outside. He mentions that this may partly be because any of the cyclones that sweep the coast here early each year may blow your house away, and so it does not make good sense to keep many valuables locked away or to give too much importance to your abode.

The children here, same as anywhere else, very much insisted on having their picture taken. And sharks are frequently caught by the local fishermen.


For lunch, we go to a restaurant where they served hygienic drinks and delicious Rougaille Saucisse (sausages in a gingery chili and tomato sauce). I cannot remember the name.

There are a raggedy-looking man and two women with scrubby kids who are lurking around the vicinity of the restaurant patio. When the punters at the table next to us are about to leave, we realize why they are hanging around. Each of them has a plastic bag that they hold open for the leftovers. It breaks my heart to see these people having to beg for food like this, but on the other hand I admire their enterprising spirit and organizational skills, what with waiting right by the source and actually remembering to bring a bag! So when Marco and I are finished eating, we also give our remaining rice and meat away, bones and all. I think about how passing somebody a chicken bone that I personally would probably throw out may be a bit presumptuous, but then I remind myself how here in Madagascar, nothing is ever wasted, and I am sure somebody will probably pick the last bit of meat from the bones and then use them to make soup.

Our two pretty waitresses and our view from the table.

This is what it looked like in Manakara.

And this is the beach.

The empty swimming pool at the hotel.

Our bungalow in the picture on the right.

It was lovely, although we had an ant highway in the shower. But hey, it was the wildlife we came for after all!

The hotel bar, with jar after jar of Rhum Arrangé. This is a very typical drink for Madagascar, which has a thriving rum industry. The rum is infused with fruits or spices, which are more or less being pickled in the alcohol - for a very long time.

We tried the tamarind, the lychee, the vanilla and the passion fruit rum, and I would have liked to have gone through all of them, but was starting to feel the effects quite quickly.

16 April

We are back on the road to make our way to Ranomafana National Park. It is 8 am and the temperature has already reached 30°C. It is a hot winter in Madagascar!

Passing a raffia plantation.

We are stopping at a little shop in the village of Ifanadiana to get cold drinks, which is just as well, because the winding mountain roads that we have been travelling on have left me a bit car sick.

The shop stocks drinks and canned food and rock salt and snacks and is run by an Indian lady. Marco and I have a conversation about the fruit we have seen or would like to try while we are on holiday, and when the lady hears me say "lychee", she disappears into her storage room and comes back with a jar of boiled and dried lychees, which she lets us taste. They are delicious and I impress her make her giggle by saying "tsara be", which means "very good" in Malagasy. She then teaches me the word for "sweet', which is "mamy".

At a stall by the road we had bought this knobbly fruit, which we had seen a few times and Eric recommended we try. He called it pokanel. When we arrive at the Setam Lodge in Ranomafana, we bust out the Swiss army knife and have a taste.  It's like a big custard apple, with white, juicy flesh and big black seeds.The texture reminds me of really ripe pears. It tastes smooth, richly sweet and a little bit sour at the same time, and is very refreshing.

Room with a view and bathroom tiles with lemurs.

There will me more lemurs tomorrow! Yay!

For earlier stages of our trip, have a look here:

And for later ones here:

© Annika - All The Live Long Day (unless otherwise stated)

1 comment:

  1. Gosh, it looks like it was a BEAUTIFUL trip. I madly in love with all the details in these photos, so special! ♥


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