leaping_lemurs: (I Wantz U)
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We left the hotel just after 9:00 for our 10:35 flight straight through to Diego Suarez, but Mad Air at last decided to show us why it’s known for its delays. Our plane hadn’t even left Tana yet to come down to Majunga, so we sat in the departure lounge and read. At one point I got up to throw something away and realized the wedding couple from yesterday and the groom’s parents were sitting behind us. We went over, and I showed them the pictures I’d taken. Since they’re from Belgium and spoke pretty much only French (he spoke a little English), our conversation wasn’t the clearest, but we did find out that they met here when he was on vacation, that they got married first in Belgium and then here, that there were 100 guests at the wedding, and he’s a butcher back home. But I got their address and his e-mail address, and I’ll send him a disc with the pictures. His camera battery had died, so he was very happy to have them.

Here's the happy couple:


The plane finally arrived, was cleaned and took off again around 1:00, so we arrived at 2:15. The landing was a little tippy, but hey, we were here. I’ll say this, though. I was expecting our in-country flights to be on small planes, but these are very comfortable prop planes with 4 seats across and at least 20 rows, maybe more – much more comfortable than a lot of flights I’ve takem in the US and Canada.

I took these photos while we were waiting in the car for the guys to show up with the luggage. Hopefully these zebu, despite their proximity to the airport parking lot and runway, didn't meet their deaths under a plane the next day.



I thought this guy was a particularly handsome specimen.


Frank, who’ll be our driver here, has amazing blue eyes, quite a bit of English and a good sense of humor. The trip to the Nature Lodge (very lovely – we were greeted with raspberry smoothies, mmmm) was on what our itinerary called a “challenging road,” and they weren’t kidding. It’s paved – or was – after a fashion, but there were times when the van driver (Frank came with him to meet us and rode out to the lodge with us, but it was actually the lodge’s van and driver today) drove entirely off the thin strip of remaining pavement rather than on it, because that was the smoother course. I didn’t mind, though, because going slower made it easier to look out the window. Diego Suarez is a port and has the second largest bay in the world (after Rio de Janeiro). We’ll see the city itself in a couple of days, but today we drove higher into the foothills of Montagne d’Ambre, and the houses I saw tended (as outside Majunga) to be made of concrete block, stuccoed over, usually with corrugated metal roofs, rather than the traditional wood and thatch we saw earlier on. Some are made entirely of corrugated metal, and in additon to undoubtedly being unbearably hot, those are the ones that most remind me that I’m in such a poor country, not only because they tend to look patched together and rusted, but because they’re so clearly not part of the traditional culture. I’ve noticed that when someone can afford it (here and elsewhere) they’ll have ornate concrete bannisters along the porch, or decorative (with a cut-out pattern of some sort) concrete blocks built into the walls, especially when a house is 2 stories.

Our plan was to check in here at the lodge (which is actually in Joffreville), leave our stuff in our bungalow – which has an incredible view, so I’ll try to remember to take a picture in the morning – eat a quick lunch and get back in the van to be driven up the mountain to the trailhead. The mountain has its own microclimate, though, and while it was sunny and breezy here, it was pouring there and likely to go on that way. That meant the hiking would be slippery, the crowned lemurs impossible to see in the thick canopy, and we’d be getting soaked simply to see the tree that gave the mountain its name because it drips amber-colored sap. Since we’ll be seeing crowned lemurs over the next two days in Ankarana National Park (where we’ll each have our own room, because none of them have 2 beds, so that will be both luxurious and, after travelling together all this time, odd), we opted to relax here at the lodge and have our own bocci tournament. First Vy whupped me 9 to 4 (or maybe 3), then barely eked out a 9 to 7 victory over Terry. But I came back and won 9 to 3 (or maybe 4), though I think it was just that his arm was tired by that point. After that Terry and I traded the lead until we were tied at 7 and it was getting too hard to see, so now we’re relaxing before dinner.

Vy playing bocci:


Rain over Montagne d'Ambre:








I’m typing this on my porch. The sun has gone down and the clouds are low over the mountains, there are crickets (or at least what sound like crickets) chirping, and a cool breeze is blowing, occasionally carrying a few drops of rain. The electricity goes off at either 8:00 or 10:00 (I didn’t quite get that part) (it turned out to be 10:00), so it may be an early night. But that’s OK, because somehow even the travel days feel full and I’m tired at the end of them.

A post-dinner addendum:
Right before we were getting ready to leave the bungalow and walk up to the lodge (which, by the way, looked like fairyland, all lit up), we heard a couple of big thumps on the bungalow wall. It sounded like someone knocking on the door, except the door was open. I went out to investigate, and it turned out there was a bright green gecko on the wall under the rattan lampshade, and he’d just caught a biiiig bug for dinner. He also proved out exactly what Nono had told us earlier: He started out facing head down to hunt, then turned so he was head up to swallow and digest. When we got back from dinner he was still there, head down again as he waited for another nice juicy bug to come by. Apparently he’s learned that they’re drawn by the light. Sadly for him, though, we turned off the porch lights precisely so they wouldn’t draw bugs, because we plan to sleep (under our mosquito nets) with the windows open to take advantage of the lovely breeze here up above the town.

Date: 2007-11-09 12:21 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jenlev.livejournal.com
That is the best ending to the photo of the wedding ever!

I love your descriptions very much. Too bad for the gecko though. ;)

Date: 2007-11-09 08:10 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] baleanoptera.livejournal.com
I haven't had the chance to comment on all the entries, but I'm really enjoying reading and watching this travel log. The photos are lovely and your I like your descriptions. :D

Date: 2007-11-11 12:21 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] victorian-tweed.livejournal.com
Wow, that is a coincidence! They look like such a sweet couple :-)

(very lovely – we were greeted with raspberry smoothies, mmmm)

I'm all in favour of being greeted with a raspberry smoothie!

Date: 2010-05-14 10:38 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] goosetea.livejournal.com
so it is called bocci :) i was wondering what's the name of the game

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