Lemurs, snakes, chameleons and chilled locals – in Madagascar.

NB: with this post about the place I visited before the lockdown I want to bring you some positivism, beauty and the reassurance that we will all get a chance to see great different places again. Meanwhile I encourage you not to violate the stay-at-home regime. Instead I hope you’re using this time for catching up on what you never seemed to find the time to do… ‘before’ :).

After a quick fast-forward to the corona crisis, herewith, a quick rewind back to southern Africa, since I haven’t finished telling you all about it yet!…

After taking in Namibia’s dunes and the Victoria Falls (in both Zambia and Zimbabwe) next up for us, as per our long-ago pre-planned route, was… Madagascar! Which, it turned out was to be my 99th country in the world I’ve visited, after Namibia (98th). I’ve already told you about my hundredth

Our first two days in the country, however, were somewhat off-piste – unplanned. For, after several days of ‘tourism till you drop’ (up early, late to bed, and non-stop concentrated travel-cum-tourism in-between), we decided a few days ‘off’ were in order. And so we did order them, and were granted them… on the Madagascan island paradise called Nosy Be, just off the northern shores of the country.

But first we had to get there. By boat. It’s about 30 kilometers across the sea over to the island – to a town called Hell-Ville (actually, it used to be called that (after Anne Chretien Louis de Hell!); it’s now called Andoany).

No problem, surely. Thing is, just as we were setting out across the sea a storm took hold, with thunder and lightening even. So, nervously, we ask of our ‘captain’, if it might be dangerous making the trip right now. His answer: ‘Yes, yes. Is dangerous!’ ‘Then what the actual *#@! were we doing even contemplating it?’ we all thought. He then asked us if we should turn round. Er, but I thought he was the captain, not us. ‘Yes, we turn round’, came the chorus from us lot!

It was just one of those things – where we needed to remember we were in Africa and the… approach to certain situations by locals can be quite different to that of tourists visiting from afar. We simply took a deep breath, made no sudden movements (much like if you encounter a tarantula in your bed in the middle of the night:), and realized things will work out fine in the end. Which they did…

…For next morning it was a clear, calm, sunny day. So we set sail – in the same boat, with the same ‘captain’! – over to Hell-Ville…

Chilled children walk one way to school in the mornings along the beach, and the other way in the evenings. Not the worst school run in the world ). Meanwhile, we were staying in cozy bungalows like this:

Low tide. The ocean recedes quite a way, but knowing that it is really warm (32°C!), we didn’t mind the trek down to the waves ).

Baobabs! How I love these trees plants! And there were plenty of them, like this one – right next to my bungalow:

Up in the baobabs, another of Madagascar’s tourist attractions – lemurs. Not that we got a close look: they keep well away from humans. Who can blame them? )

Friendlier, tamed lemurs were said to be found on the neighboring small island of Nosy Komba. So that’s where we were headed next…

Indeed, they were real friendly here. But with a twist: ‘No banana – no friend!’, apparently, according to our guides. No problem! And we got several bunches in!…

Marvelous creatures. Bushy, gentle, curious, harmless, fun! And our relatives, btw: also primates ).

Besides the lemurs – cute chameleons!

Also – pythons and boa constrictors (though no venomous ones), tortoises, and various other assorted exotic wildlife.

Strange palms too. I don’t recall that they’re called.

Most of the locals, judging by their homes, live simple lives. Still, occasionally you find a nice house probably left over from colonial times – with electricity too, judging by the satellite dish there ->

A while later we were to visit some real poor slums (more one them later), but for now we were in the upmarket district…

Then it was time to head back to mainland Madagascar in our boat – but where was it? Ah – it had been put out to sea as the tides had receded. Not that we minded the walk over to the water’s edge…

Come evening: rainbow. No – a double rainbow. A rain-woah!

More pics from Madagascar are here.

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