Sunday, 21 August 2016

Arrival in Madagascar

We arrived right on time in Madagascar. Based on the stories I  had read about long delays and a bit of corruption, I was expecting a difficult experience getting through the airport. It probably helped that we were towards the front of the plane. We quickly went through passport control and were sent to the visa counter. We had to pay a bit over 50 Euros for the two of us for our 30 day visas.

We were then sent to another counter where two other people looked over our passports and the forms that we filled out on the plane. So that meant that four different people looked over our documents in a few minutes. I can see that those people at the back of the plane might have been delayed, but it did not take all that long for us. We picked  up our bags (yahoo!) which had been tagged from London. Everyone gets their bags searched at customs, but again, we had little delay there.

Outside the door we found a man holding up a sign with my name on it. That was our guide. (We had a hard time understanding his name, so will confirm tomorrow with Irina, the lady from the agency.) We left our bags with him and went back to exchange some Euros for Ariary. With the exchange rate we ended up with over 500,000. We ended up with a big wad of bills, and that is with getting big denominations.

The driver dropped us at our hotel. He warned us about pickpockets in the neighbourhood. Since it was almost dark anyway (gets dark early this time of year in Madagascar) we did not go out.

Irina is coming to the hotel tomorrow morning to meet with us and review the final details of the trip. I have been exchanging emails with her for months. Other than meeting Irina, we have no scheduled activities tomorrow. We will probably do a bit of exploring on our own. Our actual tour starts on Tuesday when we will be picked up early and taken to the town closest to the river cruise.

Our hotel is quite okay.  We ate in the restaurant downstairs. It was quite busy. It is Italian but also offers some local dishes. I tried the Malagasy Coconut chicken. Although it was okay, I do not think it is of the standard of the Italian and European fare. Tomorrow night I am going to try the Zebu pepper steak.

So far everything has worked out. The flights were all okay (they got us where we needed to go),  the London train and hotel were fine and we arrived in Madagascar (along with our bags) and were met at the airport and taken to a good hotel. Now I think I can start to relax and enjoy the country.

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