leaping_lemurs: (Glee by the_reverand)
[personal profile] leaping_lemurs
This morning we packed up, then walked into town over the footbridge. We were watching our feet every step of the way to avoid the holes and cracked boards, but I suspect it’s safer than it looks. I’d like to believe so, anyway. It was very sunny and very hot, even before 9:00 AM, but since our “purpose” was simply to wander the market, I made it my goal to find a couple of cheap bandanas, so I can stop going through Kleenex like there’s a fire sale every time I need to wipe off my cheeks (quite pink from the sun after our long hike yesterday) or my glasses. Finding them was tougher than you might think, but I succeeded – and I didn’t even have to buy the one with the skull on it.

Here are some shots from the walk to and from town town.

This clothesline was a relative rarity. We frequently saw laundry laid out to dry on bushes and hillsides or just sunny patches of ground.

This is a cotton tree. The fibers from inside the pods can be spun like cotton, and you can see a couple of open pods midway up the tree.

We saw women balancing baskets on their heads all over the place. I was in awe the first time and still in awe the last.

This little boy had a nicely padded seat on his dad's bike.

Lots of the little girls we saw were all dressed up in frills like this little cutie.

This casino looked as if it had been out of business for a while.

Vy had my second camera again, which was great, because he can open doors for taking pictures of people where we might feel uncomfortable on our own. Two guys outside one stall had a great time posing for us, and then I snapped the three kids who were leaning out excitedly from the side door, watching. Digitals are great, because everyone rushes over to see the pictures. Two schoolgirls in uniform saw all the fuss and joined the crowd, then, gigglingly, let me snap their picture. Here's the sequence.

Here are some other shots from around town.

I'd be afraid to get my hair done here!

This was painted on the wall above a former tour operator's door.

We saw branches of this bank in several places. Vy said you could spend a good two hours inside just waiting to change money. (We used exchange bureaus, and I also used an ATM once.)

Look! Another WCS sign! (The national park lemur logo is much nicer than our "sponge.")

Before crossing back over the bridge, we stopped for a cold drink by the river, sitting outside in a lovely breeze. Then we passed the world’s sleepiest chamber of commerce (I regret not taking a picture) and crossed back over – one guy was bicycling across, and we’ve seen motorbikes on it, too – to walk back to the resort. The road passes through a small cluster of houses and past a playground, where the little kids were having a great time on the slide.

I took some pictures, and then what started as me shooting one little girl turned into her and a little boy – I think before I even snapped the first shot – and escalated from there. Their excitement was 10 times that of the adults earlier, as they laughed and poked at the screen when they saw themselves.

After a light lunch (zebu kabobs, mmmm), we got in the hotel “bus” for what I thought would be a ride back to the boat, so I was all set to take a picture, because I realized you might think the boats we were riding in were a lot bigger than they in fact were. Basically, they were maybe 20’ long by 5’ wide, with 4 or 5 bench seats and a couple of outboards hanging off the back. Totally safe, and they even made us wear life jackets for the crossing to and from the island, but very basic. However...

Apparently they bring you in by the car-boat combo so you can see the defunct bridge, but there is in fact another way. I swear the first way was faster, though, and certainly less bumpy. This was a good 7 or 8 km over a road that has to be seen to be believed. It’s packed sand, with huuuuuuge dips. An SUV would get lost in them, and I’m not kidding, but this thing has (as near as I can tell, anyway) an independent suspension for each wheel. We watched it from behind yesterday, while we were walking back after our river trip, and the only way I can describe it is to say that it looked like it was bending.

Once at the airport (notice the geese),

we ran into the same British couple who sat in front of us on the flight down and got caught up, and we also kept chatting with the friendly German couple who’d been on the bus from the resort with us. Funny how we keep running into people.

I noticed that all the airports had hello and goodbye signs with graphics relevant to the area. Here's the veloma (goodbye) sign from Maroantsetra. I like the way the lemur looks like he's in the tree. (I'm easily amused. It's one of my better qualities.)

We flew back to Tana, with a stop in Tamatave (TahmuhTAHvee, btw), then had to pick up our luggage and recheck it, because the agent in Maraontsetra hadn’t felt like checking it through. I kid you not.

I had a battle of wits with an unarmed opponent, as they say, while waiting to board the flight to Majunga. This snotty old British woman who was behind me in line quite loudly informed her husband to stay with her, because “no one in this country seems to know how to queue up,” then kept trying to push past me. Our Donnybrook came when I got to the front of the line. Two lines were merging, and people were taking turns. I waited for the first group from the other line, at which point she started to push me out of the way, complaining that I was letting everyone go. I put an arm out, stopped her, told her I was being polite and this was how two lines merged. “So you say,” said she. “Yes I do,” said I. “And talk about not knowing how to queue up...” We were stopped on the tarmac on the way to the plane and she started in again, so I told her off again, and apparently seeing that I wasn’t about to be intimidated, she shut up. The bottom line is that she was a rude bitch and wrong, and I was right, so it wasn’t much of a challenge to set her straight. Still, it’s nice to know that the ugly American stereotype (and I admit that I’ve seen plenty of my countrymen behave obnoxiously over the years, so I’m being fair here, not biased) really is undeserved. I think the vast majority of travelers of any nationality are perfectly lovely (though Vy does say the French are known for complaining), but when you get a rotten one... It would never occur to me to go somewhere and carp loudly over how people line up to get on a plane, for heaven’s sake. It’s another country with its own culture, and being part of that for a little while is fun, edifying and, at the end of the day, a key component of the experience I came for. And I really don’t know how I ended up ranting about this, except that I’m tired and apparently a bit punchy, so let me wrap things up.

Here's the salama (hello) sign from Majunga:

The airport restaurant was similarly themed:

We were picked up here in Majunga and taken to the Sunny Hotel (there’s actually a small chain of them over here), where our room is gigantic. Two double beds, two couches and a coffee table, a desk, TV (with 2 channels – shades of Copacabana, Bolivia, and my day of deathly illness) – and AC. The electricity only works while you’re in the room with the key inserted in the special slot, but the AC’s pretty effective, and the room cooled off well. We’ve also got a giant bathroom with a giant tub, but – as usual – no shower curtain, so we’ll be inadvertently splashing again soon.

Vy had gotten good news when we landed. We were supposed to spend tomorrow night right in Ampijoroa Park, but, as he says, things aren’t always run professionally here, and cash in hand can supercede a reservation. Since the park is 120 km away, not being able to stay over might have meant no night walk – and there are 4 nocturnal lemur species to look for there – and definitely no early morning bird and lemur walk. But persistence prevailed – he’s been on the phone with them every day – and we got our “platform,” so Cortez (our travel company) is sending us our tents and we’ll be staying right in the thick of things. Our itinerary describes the accomodations as “very basic,” and since there’s no hot water, I’d say that’s a fair description. Still, there are real toilets – as there are everywhere (and the toilet paper here is really good, too, unlike Peru and Bolivia, where I was quite intimately acquainted with that particular commodity) – and a small restaurant where we can get a basic meal, like rice with chicken, so it’s not as if we’ll be totally roughing it.

So. We’ve both put what we’ll need into a small bag to take with us and will leave our big bags here, because we’ll be coming back for another night after the park, and now it’s time for bed.

Date: 2007-11-05 11:10 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] victorian-tweed.livejournal.com
Such a pleasure to view those beautiful, serene, smiling faces.

Meh. Rude people. They are universal :-(

Date: 2007-11-05 11:23 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jenlev.livejournal.com
You have a marvelous eye. I adore that sequence that starts with laugher.

Date: 2007-11-06 02:07 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] http://users.livejournal.com/bliss_/
These pictures are amazing, and so fascinating. I love the kids, and the schoolgirls, and just all of them!

Date: 2007-11-12 10:00 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] caerwynx.livejournal.com
I love the people pictures as much as the wildlife!

Chamber of commerce

Date: 2008-01-03 12:43 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Hi Leslie, here's your 'seat mate' Elly. I'm having a wonderful time reading through your log and enviously look at some pictures my husband and I would love to have taken though didn't/couldn't. As to the 'sleepy' chamber of commerce, I saw that one too (with the sleeping guy on the porch) but my husband (the camera man) didn't think it interesting enough a site for a picture. Can you believe that???? He took a picture of the tax office though... and there wasn't much happening there either. Anyway, Leslie, I love your log! It's taking me back to Madagascar again (sigh).


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