leaping_lemurs: (Lemurs Looking by the_reverand)
[personal profile] leaping_lemurs
Picking up where I left off earlier...

At lunch today, still at Ampijoroa, I asked Nono if he knew what color the dead zebu was, because I was wondering if it was "my" zebu. He said he hadn’t asked. But apparently my question preyed on his mind, because he excused himself a few minutes later to go find out. When he came back, he asked – with a tricky look – what color zebu I’d taken a picture of. I said he had to tell me first, or else I knew he’d just tell me it was some other one. Sadly, it was the brown one, so RIP, Mr. Zebu. I was one of the last people to see him alive, and undoubtedly the last one (as well as quite possibly the first) ever to take his picture.

My favorite shot of him:

Too bad he couldn't read.

The sad thing is, Mr. Zebu didn’t have to die. The crocs in the lake subsist quite happily on fish – unless people get to their fish first. Fishing with a line is allowed in the lake, but fishing with nets isn’t. Unfortunately, as Nono explained, people sneak in at night to fish with nets, depleting the population of larger fish – the crocs’ staple diet – so the crocs get hungry, and that’s when they go after zebu, and even people.

On the drive back to Majunga, we stopped to take pictures of a particularly gorgeous flame tree that we’d noticed on the way down. I asked Vy if he’d planned the stop since yesterday, and he said yes, because we didn’t have time to stop then (since we were scheduled to meet Nono for our first walk of the day). I kid you not, a private tour of Madagascar – which is basically what we’ve ended up with – is great, but a private tour with Vy to oversee every detail is, as the commercial says, priceless.

Can you spot the spider?

How about now?

Oh, one last story, this one about Vy. He’s quite fit, but he keeps telling Terry and me that he’s got a little belly he needs to get rid of. Apparently he tells everyone else, too, because at lunch today Nono, who’s very lean, teased him by telling us that Vy had asked him “how to make his belly not so big.” Poor Vy. We all teased him then, and Terry and I promised that I would write about it in my journal, and so I have.

Now we’re back at the Sunny Hotel, where we’d left the bulk of our luggage (it’s not at all busy, so they just kept it in our same room to wait for us), waiting to go out again at 4:30 for the market and the baobab. And an ATM, to get local currency, since the exchange bureaus are closed on the weekend. But first, a real shower. Mmmmm.

Journalis Interruptus
Things I Have Learned About Coming To Madagascar:
Despite the agency’s packing list, 1 long-sleeved t-shirt would have been plenty. More short-sleeved t-shirts would have been excellent. Better yet, I should have bought a dozen cheap white (to reflect the sun, since everything I own – and therefore everything I brought – is brightly colored) t-shirts and discarded the filthy ones as I went.

Your hat, your sunglasses and your sunblock are your best friends, even if you don’t share my ghostly pallor.

Buzz-off pants seem to work. A few mosquitoes landed. None bit.

Save all your old, dead-elastic underwear. Bring it, then discard it after you wear it. Ditto socks, so long as they’re not so holey you’re going to get blisters.

One for the ladies: Bring a lot of bras. A lot. I regret not bringing twice as many as I did.

I know you’re going to say you can always wash things as you go, but often you’ll only be in a place for one night, and some things – like heavy hiking socks – can take days to dry.

Flip-flops are another necessity for those "very basic" cold showers and bathrooms. Barefoot = not good.

Bring a second pair of decent shoes, just in case your hiking boots crump (as Terry’s did) or you get blisters and need a switch. My second pair are sneakers, and though I haven’t needed them yet, hiking sneakers would probably have been a better choice, just in case.

Do not forget your bug spray. (I didn’t. I’m just sayin’.) Or several flashlights – a miner’s light works a treat – and extra batteries.

If you want to take pictures, bring the best camera you can. My equipment is much better than I am, so it makes my efforts look good.

Pack every wash'n'dry, Tylenol, lens wipe, toiletry and emergency supply, etc. that you can think of, because they’re cheap and you can always dump the leftovers to make room in your suitcase before going home.

Speaking of, if you have to fill your bag to bursting to come, my reccomendation is to use a bigger bag. Chances are you’re going to go home with something extra.

Expect to be sweaty and dirty at the end of the day. Vanity would have a tough time holding up here, but no one cares.

Push yourself and see everything you can. Your muscles may ache, but it will be worth it.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled lj.

So here I am, writing before bed again. Our trip out was a success and ended with an unexpected event, just as our morning began.

First I got to use a Malagasy ATM, and then we went to the market. I’m afraid I bought another (but different!) lemur tablecloth. Terry wanted lemur napkins to give as gifts for use as hand towels, but the napkins were only sold as a set with the tablecloths, so I bargained for a better price for the set (because bargaining’s expected), then sold her the napkins (of which there were 12) for the equivalent of $2.50. Vy tried to get me to charge her $5, but I refused. (He’s a tricky one, that Vy. *g*) I also bought a lemur t-shirt – mostly to have a clean t-shirt to wear this week as I rotate through my "delicately used" ones, but I quite like it. And then, for all of about $8, I bought a small painting of a mother and baby Coquerel’s sifaka.

Next stop was the baobab at sunset. It’s a huge old tree (the "broadest" species), but right in the middle of a traffic circle near the shore, so there’s no way to get a picture without street signs and wires and things. The ones we saw yesterday were a different species and perhaps not as old, but I liked them better simply because they were still in the wild.

I took a couple of sunset shots,

and then we were standing by the car when a wedding party went by, the bride and groom standing in the back of a pickup and waving, and cars packed with guests following them, everyone honking their horns.

Blurry, because I had no time to change the camera settings, but...

They drove down the esplanade, then circled back and parked to pose for pictures by the baobab. Of course we took pictures, too, because their happiness was infectious, and it was such an unexpected little lift at the end of the day.

After that it was back to the Sunny Hotel for dinner, but first we said goodbye to Roell (RoyELL), our driver for the last two days. He didn’t really speak English (no problem, since Vy was always there), but he was always ready with a smile and negotiated the crazy city traffic like a pro. Which I guess he is, now that I think about it.

While I’m nattering, I thought I’d mention that the traditional name for Majunga is Mahajanga, which means "good air." A Malagasy queen founded the city in the 17th Century, choosing the site because she thought it was a healthy spot, right on the Strait of Mozambique, which is about 250 miles away.

Tomorrow morning we fly to Diego Suarez, at the northern tip of the island. Over the next couple of days we’ll be seeing the "tsingy," natural limestone pinnacles, and a cave, as well as seeing more – you guessed it – lemurs. Whee! Then it’s on to Berenty, in the far south, for more lemurs, and then somehow it’s over and we fly home. It’s unbelievable to me that we’re more than halfway through our trip, but we are. Where does the time go, and, more to the point, how dare it?

Date: 2007-11-08 01:59 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] http://users.livejournal.com/bliss_/
Poor Mr. Zebu. :(

Those trees are something else though, as is the wedding. How wonderful to stumble across that.

Now, are you going to post pictures of your purchases when your journal entries are all finished up?

Date: 2007-11-08 06:24 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lage-nom-ai.livejournal.com
Gorgeous, just gorgeous. And those realizations about what to pack are always the ones I have after the fact, too...

Date: 2007-11-08 11:37 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jenlev.livejournal.com
These are lovely. And I adore the shot you describe as "blurry" it's got such a sense of glee and "Wheee!" about it.

By the way (ahem) you are indeed as good as your camera equipment. I'm just sayin'.

Gorgeous trees, poor zebu.

Date: 2007-11-08 10:23 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] deaver.livejournal.com
Awww, poor Mr. Zebu. *sniffles* At least you have a memorial pic of him.

The flame tree is beautiful!! It looks like some crazy species of azalea.

Also, I think it's great that you snapped the wedding pics - you're right their happiness IS infectious!!

Date: 2007-11-10 02:20 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] the-reverand.livejournal.com
Poor Zebu. :(

Beautiful trees, though! That red one is fantastic.

Date: 2007-11-11 12:18 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] victorian-tweed.livejournal.com
Farewell, dear Mr Zebu :-(

Excellent travel tips! I should bookmark this entry!

Love the pics of the newly weds. How happy and relaxed and natural they look!


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