leaping_lemurs: (We Wantz)
[personal profile] leaping_lemurs
Waaah! This is the last day, and in posting it, I feel as if my trip is ending all over again. *sniff*

Things were definitely gearing up for a typically hot day, but we were out early enough to enjoy the sun without baking. We saw a huge colony of fruit bats (aka flying foxes) roosting in the trees,

This is only a tiny portion of the colony, but it gives you a sense of how many there were.

The morning light was really beautiful.

These next shots let you see the face, which makes it obvious where the "flying fox" name comes from.

Every so often one of them would fly from one tree to another. I never managed a decent shot, but here's the best I was able to do.

as well as more lemurs,

Here's a red-fronted lemur in the morning light.

A lazy baby ringtail and his mom.

A leaping lemur - check out the baby clinging to her stomach.

This ringtail mom was nursing her baby up in a tree.

Catching some rays.

Scent marking.

A few more sleepy white-footed sportive lemurs.

a hoopoe,

The "normal" view.

Crest up.

Eating breakfast.

another white-browed owl,

and tortoises and Nile crocs kept in pens. (Trust me, you don’t want to be anywhere near a Nile croc that’s not penned up. Just ask poor Mr. Zebu.) Then a quick breakfast and back on the road. While we were eating, though, Allison Jolly – who comes for 2 months every year for the lemur birth season and who we’d heard was in residence – heard us speaking English and came over to see if we had any English books we were done with. We did, and then we chatted with her for a while and even took a couple of pictures.

As promised, a look at a typical section of road.

A sisal field. The large "stem" sticking up from one of them is an indication that it's reaching the end of its life and needs to be replaced.

On the way back I got some pictures of the grave monuments in the South. Traditionally the body was hidden and a monument, a natural stone stela or, later, a concrete obelisk, was raised. A zebu (or several) was slaughtered and the mourners fed, then the skulls were hung by the monument. Later the monument was decorated by the family, perhaps painted with a likeness of the deceased, as well as pictures or sculptures of zebu, cars, planes, etc. We thought the pictures were of things that mattered to the deceased, but Vy said they were really just whatever the artist was good at creating.

This family graveyard mixed the old traditions and Christianity.

Some painted obelisks.

Our flight to Tana was slightly delayed (which Vy found out yesterday, so that took a little of the time pressure off us), but we made it back and began our final-afternoon whirlwind. We got take-out pizza (it’s on sort of a crackery crust and I thought both our choices – 4-cheese and sauce Bolognese, with ground zebu – were delicious) and headed for the Tsimbazaza Zoo, in the middle of a park in Tana.

The drive into the city was the same one we took on our first morning, but what a difference 2 weeks makes. That first day everything looked alien to me, crowded and strange and a little bit intimidating. On the last day it all felt familiar and welcoming and Madagascar as I’d come to know it. I even recognized things from that first day. Also, when I still didn’t see a single traffic light, I asked Vy if there were any at all in the country. Turns out there are some on Independence Avenue in Tana, but they’re not working at the moment.

Here's another shot I took through the windshield. In case you can't tell, this car has a couch, love seat and armchair tied on top.

We ate our pizza at the zoo, which has a really nice logo,

then started walking. There’s a small lake there, where people can sit and relax, and a dinosaur museum that we didn’t have time for. The zoo’s main focus, though, is on birds and lemurs, though we also saw another fosa. I forgot to get a complete list of the lemur species we saw from Vy, but we did see the aye-aye, despite the very dim lighting in the nocturnal exhibit (somehow our World of Darkness manages to do night lighting in such a way that the animals are still quite visible). There were 2 of them, and they were bigger than I’d expected. And when one put its hand up against the blue light, I could really see those distintive long, skeletal fingers that it uses to dig termites out of trees. (Its hearing is so sensitive that it can hear termites moving under the bark.) We also saw more mouse and dwarf lemurs there.

Outside we saw another species of bamboo lemur,

red-ruffed lemurs, blue-eyed Sclater’s black lemurs,

This is the female. The male is all black, and his blue eyes are really striking.

as well as more browns, red-bellied (the male has the white eye markings)

and red-fronted lemurs,

a lazy black and white ruffed,

and ringtails.

Many of the species have their own small islands to live on, with a nice path alongside their long lake for the visitors. The zoo is somewhat rundown, and the signs are almost impossible to read, but it’s got a lovely setting and a wonderful diversity of native species, and I’d love to see it receive an infusion of money for modernization. There were plenty of visitors, though, which made me happy.

Next stop, the T-shirteria, where money was spent. So many great designs, though – and lots of them with lemurs. I also bought a plush sifaka, since he was made in Madagascar.

Final stop, the artisans’ market, which is along the road to the airport and the Relais des Platueaux, where we once again had day rooms. The market covers a square kilometer, so we couldn’t possibly do all of it, but since there’s a lot of duplication from stall to stall, that was OK. Terry was able to find the musical instruments and pressed-flower stationery she was looking for as gifts, and I picked up a few gifts myself. Bargaining is expected there, so I did my part and felt good about my savings.

While we were there, Vy ran into a(nother) friend of his – I swear, he’s never met a stranger and knows people everywhere – who told him that the previous night’s Air France flight to Paris had been cancelled (or, as they said, delayed until Monday), so lots of people were scrambling to get onto our Mad Air flight that night. As a result, we had to hurry to repack to accomodate our purchases back at the hotel, then get to the airport early to check in. We hung out over cold drinks with Vy for a little bit, and then it was time to say goodbye, so he could go see his family briefly before meeting a group of 12 French people the next night and we could board our flight.

We lucked out and had bulkhead seats, so with the extra legroom and 2 Tylenol PMs I actually managed to sleep a bit overnight. Things were crazy when we got to Paris, though, because it turns out that the Air France cabin crews had been on strike since the 25th. Luckily for us, our flight was a code-share with Delta, so they’d brought in a plane and crew, and we made it out and home.

So that’s it: the story of my trip. I’m sure I forgot to include a lot of things and probably, memory being the fallible thing that it (or mine, anyway) is, got a few details wrong, but I hope you got a flavor of what I saw and how amazing/wonderful/awesome (or any other cliche you can think of) it was. Every expectation I had was met and exceeded, and though I may never be able to get back, I’d sure as hell love to.

Date: 2007-11-16 06:40 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] deaver.livejournal.com
Thank you so much for allowing us to come along with you on your journey. I really loved seeing this different part of the world through your eyes and now I really want to go there myself!!

I just know that whenever I'm feeling blue I'll open up one of your entries and smile at all the great picutes (particuarly the lemur-heavy posts!).

Thanks again, *hugs*

Date: 2007-11-16 10:20 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ffiondove.livejournal.com
Every single one of your photos is breathtaking, I feel as if I've been there myself!....thank you for sharing it all with us ;)

I love your icon too - gorgeous :)

So! where is your next adventure to be?

Date: 2007-11-16 10:42 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jenlev.livejournal.com
These are just stunning. And oh, this has been just fabulous. Thank you for all your hard work to share these fabulous photos and your marvelous narration. *big hugs*

Date: 2007-11-17 06:57 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] victorian-tweed.livejournal.com
Thank you so much for sharing this amazing adventure with us, Nutmeg. I thoroughly enjoyed looking at the marvellous pictures, and reading your entries. I've learnt so much through this journal!

Thank you again, Tweed xxx

Hours Later...

Date: 2007-11-17 09:25 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Well, having posted a comment at your first entry, I surely must post at the last.

What a wonderful way to spend several hours on a cold, rainy Saturday in Wisco. The pictures were great (some of them eliciting audible "wows"), and your narration was so... you! Well-told, insightful, humorous, thought-provoking. And I'm a sucker for travel stories, so even the airport minutiae was interesting to me.

I echo the comment that others have made, thank you so much for your efforts in documenting and sharing your trip with us!

Steve in Wisco

Date: 2007-11-19 12:09 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] caerwynx.livejournal.com
I love the "sun-bathers" -- OOOOOOMMMMMM!

Yay for a fabulous trip!

Date: 2007-11-27 07:36 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] abbieosaurus.livejournal.com
Thank you so much for taking the time to carefully document your incredible journey! I have very much enjoyed reading the entire thing and am quite sad that it's over! I never had thought about going to Madagascar before reading your account, but now I really want to go....

Date: 2008-01-13 02:49 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] chickenlover1.livejournal.com

Date: 2010-05-14 02:15 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] goosetea.livejournal.com
Now I've seen all the pictures :)
We've been in opposite directions. Fort Pauhlin and Majunga is something I didn't see. I wanted to go to Majunga on the last week, but I was already sick and tired of Madagascar. The worst vazaspotting and hassling is in the central Mdagascar which you luckily skipped.

Date: 2010-05-14 02:29 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nutmeg3.livejournal.com
This reminds me. What's vazaspotting? It's a term I hadn't heard before.

Date: 2010-05-14 02:39 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] goosetea.livejournal.com
I coined it :) it is like trainspotting in England, but instead local people spot the white man and start screaming: Vaza! Sali vaza! Vaza bonjour!
It is unbearable in central madagascar. For example I walked 12km to Anja reserve and I was a centre of attention all those 12km, with kids running to the road and screaming, and screaming from the mountains and from the fields and etc. I was about to kill all of the people in those villages along the road. And they do it at night too. They could spot you in the night walking from Avenu de baobab 1km before you arrive (so it seems) and start screaming and laughing at your back (they always laughed at my back, which is driving me crazy). but the worst town is antsirabe. it is hassling non-stop. I couldn't be leaved alone for a minute, regardless of what I was doing: eating, taking pictures, just sitting on the bench. it was a nightmare at times. I felt like I was in circus.

Date: 2010-05-14 02:48 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nutmeg3.livejournal.com
That sounds awful! I'm so glad I didn't run into anything like that. I wonder if it wasn't only because you were obviously foreign but also (guessing) young? My friend and I are both older (I'm in my 50's, she's possibly in her 60's), so we might not have been harassed in the same way, only for money. Which isn't to excuse the behavior at all. It's the kind of thing that could ruin their tourist industry for them - and they're a country that desperately needs the money.

Date: 2010-05-14 03:14 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] goosetea.livejournal.com
Actually I thought you are a young boy :)) I'm well into my 33 years and with the beard that I had, I personnaly wouldn't approach myself :)
I don't know sometimes it seems silly, but they don't know the meaning of the word NO. There was a particular guy in the Fiarantsoa terminal who I almost attacked because he was literally crazy. I had to walk out from terminal to loose him, only then I was able to sneak back and buy ticket to other town untill he found me again :) then I was watching how he was hassling two couples from France and I was ready to jump and kick his ass shall he do something to them. Maybe it is just got worse, you were there in 2007? Since then they had this political crisis and people are "angry" (mostly at tourists. it figures. like we did steal billions, not the president and vice-president). So, now they might be more aggresive.
Sometimes I would go on taxi-brouse in the night and there all these talks about bandits stopping the taxis, so we have to form carvans of 10 to 20 taxis to be safe. This one I didn't figure at all. I asked if bandits have guns. Yes, the have. Then how can 20 buses help if we don't have police or guns with us?) It looks like bandits can hit the jack pot, that is rob 20 buses instead of one. And in many cities I was told that it is not safe to walk at night with bag (now it is not only in Tana). And I met preacher while I was walking in the night from avenue de baobab, about 50 years old, who was carrying the stick to fight bad people :) and I had to report to police once, but it turned out to be a waste of time 'cause they all are corrupted. on the other hand when I was walking past that hassling spot later no one approached me and the number of hasslers significantly reduced. And this vazaspotting... it is not like it is aggressive or threatining they are still friendly, but when you can't have a moment of peace it is unbearable. In eastern part I had quite different experience. In Andasibe I was saying hello to everyone and walking just fine, people were looking, but they were more considerate, but central madagascar was like a hell in that regard. and I mean I've seen some things in my life, but I never had experience like that, so much attention. Sometimes they walk the street like normal people and just when they approach you they throw the hand in front of them and start begging. But the worst are Antsirabe's pousse-pousses. I was eating pizza in the open air and the driver would seat in front of me and every time I raise my head a little to swallow my meal he would start waving and screaming, or when I tried once to seat in the park another pousse sat behind me and every time I would raise my head from reading lonely planet he would start screaming and offering the ride and then he walked and sat in front of me. And it doesn't matter if you are being polite or say to fuck off at once, it will only strike the conversation that will last for another half an hour.
Wherever I went I was telling people the same, you should stop this vaza thing, you should be more considerate. I will go home and will write about your country and it will stop another hundred or thousand from going here. I've met 3 people who were willing to help for free (and they were from the hotels so they actually had the reason to help beside their good nature and unfortunately some of them turned away from me, so to speak, once I checked out and stayed in other hotel because I was cheated in their hotel by other people)

Date: 2010-05-14 03:31 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nutmeg3.livejournal.com
<< Actually I thought you are a young boy :)) I'm well into my 33 years and with the beard that I had, I personnaly wouldn't approach myself :) >>

LOL! And I thought you were a woman, and very brave to be walking around on your own. I bet you're right and the changed political climate has a lot to do with the change in people's attitudes. We never felt unsafe, and Vy said the country was very safe. Even in Tana, though we didn't stay there and there were obviously very poor areas, nothing looked dangerous. The occasional beggar was pushy and hard to get rid of, but it was never any worse than that. It makes me sad to realize how far downhill the country's gone. To be honest, I'm not sure I'd want to go back there now, knowing this. When I was there, tourism was a growing industry for them, but I bet it's not anymore.

Date: 2010-05-14 03:57 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] goosetea.livejournal.com
It is not that bad (at least I have not felt danger as well), it still mainly talks about danger and bandits. like I ask the driver how to get to tea estate and he says take a taxi why risk your life. I go on the bus and I see that the road is populated and people are rather friendly so he probably just wanted to sell taxi ride (generally, not to his profit). and there are police and gandarms every 10km on the main roads. though if there is a smoke, there is a fire right. but as a preacher said I have not heard in my life that a tourist was killed :) which is very promising and soothing to hear in the night. I walked 20 something km from Brickaville to Ambile Lemaitse and I've met a lot wood cutters with axes and no one made attempt to rob me or something. However I guess all the bad stuff there happens at night.
But maybe they are really loosing it. Saphire trader told me that new government sold rights to mine for other companies (and took the bribes) and the france embassy (plus USA) try to make them fight against each other. France and USA support old president that resides in South Africa and people want this new young president to rule.
last February in Tana Image


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