leaping_lemurs: (I Wantz U)
[personal profile] leaping_lemurs
Some days I wonder about my brainpower. While looking through the camera instruction book last night, I stumbled across the very exciting fact that I can enlarge pictures on the camera screen, then navigate around to look at different bits of the shot. As a result, I now know that some of my lemur shots from yesterday should be good. Also as a result, I feel like a fool for not realizing this before. Especially because then I checked the old camera and discovered I could have been doing it there all these years, too. *sigh* I guess I was just so busy using it like my old film SLR that it never occurred to me to consider the possibilities. ::is stupid::

As for today, not a bad day, but not one for the history books, either. We walked to our regular boat landing, with a small detour to see freshly dried vanilla all packed up for market.



We also passed through a schoolyard, where a class was studying outside. They were all excited to have us take their picture, and they asked for us to send a copy, so Julien’s going to give us the address.



Then it was on to the boat.

I love the boat trips we take all over here. The smell of the ocean, the feel of the spray, the way cresting the waves and then coming down on the far side is like sitting a canter... It’s so calming and exhilirating all at once.

On the way, we saw several men out fishing in pirogues, despite the lousy weather and rather "busy" ocean. From some angles, they seemed to practically disappear into the waves.





We had rain for a large portion of our hike, which was a drag, and we didn’t see much wildlife, though we did see another species of mantella frog, a banded kestrel (Terry was the first to spot it up in a tree),





sun birds (too fast for me to photograph, but very hummingbird-like, and I did get a shot of their nest), cham birds (?), a sand lizard and sand crab (both of which escaped before I could nab their pictures), and chameleons.





This is Julien, showing off the chameleon.


No lemurs, though. Julien left the path/road a couple of times to look for them, but no luck. And when we came to a tree where one lives and can often be convinced to poke his head out of a hole, he wasn’t home. And frankly, a day without lemurs has become a day without sunshine.

Also, this was more of a hike than a nature walk. We started in a small village where they grow coffee, and we did get to take a pirogue across a narrow river, because the bridge was out, and then we walked for quite a while before entering the Farakaraina forest, which is part of Masaola National Park. But the path really was more of a road, albeit not one traffic could use. It was wide and well-travelled by the locals, and we never really felt as if we were out in nature in the same way we have been before. And it was, at least for me, a strenuous hike (OK, very strenuous), with more uphill walking than I’d expected, but I did it, and I feel rather accomplished.

While we were hiking, the boat had come along the coast to meet us when we came down the far side of the mountain. The water was quite rough, though, so it was off with the shoes and socks to wade out to meet it for the ride back. I had gotten quite disgustingly sweaty (my usual tendency, I’m sad to say) during our hike, so the wind and the spray felt wonderful.

Then it was time for lunch, a shower and a brief break, because at 3:30 we’re heading out for a river trip, which will give us a bit of a look at the town and a chance to see more of the birdlife.

Today’s random Madagascar fact: I asked Vy where the Malagasy with money go on vacation, and he said to France. Despite how close it is, they don’t go to the African continent, and in fact he said that the Malagasy people don’t think of themselves as African.

A few hours later, we pick up our intrepid heroine after a trip up the river. She also has a very red face because she got sunburned while hiking. Cleverly, she came prepared with aloe vera after-sun gel, which has a lovely cooling effect. She will now stop referring to herself in the third person, because she finds it even more irritating than you probably do.

Along the resort drive, on our way to the boat, we saw a panther chameleon in his normal colors, because it turns out the one we saw the first day was wearing his courting color scheme.



Check out the prehensile tail and clever feet.


Where was I? Oh yes, the river trip. I’m telling you, there’s something so relaxing about being on a boat. We were out for almost two hours, but it felt like half that, it went by so pleasantly.

But wait, I’m forgetting something. There are generally several women lined up along the sand road we walk to get to the boat landing, selling bread and soda, but today another woman was there selling the coolest thing: large (a foot, on average) lizards and palms made of woven vanilla beans. There’s no way on earth I’d be able to get one through Customs (short of lying and hoping not to get caught, and I’m a shitty liar), or else I would have bought one for my kitchen, because the fragrance would be delightful. I hope the craft spreads and someone figures out a way to package the results in some sanitized way that will allow for export.

But back to the boat ride. We motored through town, and I got some good shots of the defunct bridge,






the footbridge,


including a shot looking up as we passed under it,


and old buildings and things,








and then crossed what seemed to be an inlet of the Indian Ocean and headed into the countryside along the Andrivotra River, slowing frequently for pirogues.


The light late in the afternoon was warm, and it was so restful that I could have fallen asleep, except that we began to see birds, and my pathetic attempts to photograph them kept me awake. We saw mynahs, white-faced whistling ducks,
,

what I think are common ducks,


a red fody (tiny and a gorgeous bright red, but he flew away before I could get the camera on him), a common moorhen,


an egret, and a gorgeous pair of malachite kingfishers. Unlike our kingfishers, these are tiny, so it took me a while to spot them.

This shot gives you a sense of their size:






I shot more abandoned building and the occasional view, too.











Along the way we saw the occasional home and a number of rice fields, people fishing and a woman doing her washing in the river.

On our way to the boat, we’d noticed an adorable little girl in a bright yellow dress. Walking back later, she smiled and said “Bonjour” in that sweet high voice so many little girls have, and Vy (who'd been using my second camera) got her to pose for a picture. Her mother was there at one of the vending stands (just small tables, nothing formal), so when we send the pictures to the school, I’m going to send her picture to her mother.

Back at the bungalow, we had a visitor in the form of a gecko in the bathroom.



We had an early dinner, and – as has consistently been the case – it was delicious: Madagascar camembert melted over a baguette, fish kabobs and veggies, and carmelized pineapple. I’m hoping to lose weight from all the exercise I’m getting, but what with the quality of the food, I’m not sure how good my odds are.

Tomorrow we walk into town for a look round and a swing through the market, then check out and head for the airport. If our connection in Tana goes as planned, tomorrow night we check into the Sunny Hotel (that name always makes me smile) in Majunga, on the West Coast. See you there.
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November 2007

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