Monday, 29 August 2016

Last Day on the Boat

August 26

Last evening was quiet so we had as good a sleep as one can get in a little tent. Once again the morning was foggy. I took a couple of photographs and headed for the boat. I found the crew busy cleaning everything.

Our plans were to go straight to Belo sur Tsiribihina. It was an absolute gorgeous morning. We sat on top in a very cool breeze chatting with Johnny. Po was in the chair at the front. I was sitting with my feet on the top step of the ladder. We were not bothering with shoes, just like the crew.  I made some notes for my speech.

We spotted another crocodile. The high banks were gone, so the river was quite wide. We passed the south terminal for the ferry. We will be there in a couple of days. We headed for the terminal on the north side. I am using terminal as I do not know what exactly to call them. They consist of some small huts used by the local vendors. There are floating docks for the ferries. Johnny said they were generally private operators, several different businesses.

We pulled into the north bank. For lunch we ate a chicken that had brought on board our first day. It had lived for a couple of last days before meeting its demise on the boat. We know it was fresh.

After lunch it was time to make my speech. The crew sat across from me. As I gave the speech, each point had to be translated by Johnny. Each sentence was met with a round of applause. I guess they liked my speech. I was quite sincere in everything that I said. They were a fantastic crew. I cannot say enough about the quality of the service on the boat. We felt so safe with them. They looked after all our needs, fed us wonderfully, found birds and crocodiles and lemurs for us and then set up a very comfortable camp.

I highly recommend Espace Mada, especially this crew of Johnny Archy as the guide and a crew of pilot Dary, cook Charle, and the two helpers, David and Ruphim.

Johnny gave me some numbers for the trip. Our first day we covered 63 km, the second 56 km and finally 29 km on this last day.

But the time had come to say goodbye and carry on with our next adventure. José was waiting for us. We jumped into the 4 x 4 and headed for Bekopaka. Shortly after we started we passed a field full of zebu and people. It was market day for trading zebu. The road from there was rough. I had been told that the road was bad. It was no exaggeration. We finally pulled up to the Manambolo River. There is a very short ferry to get us across which only took a few minutes and then a few more minutes to reach our hotel for the next two nights, the Orchidees du Bemaraha. It is quite similar to our hotel from the other night with blocks of rooms and a separate dining room.

We jumped into the shower. I had warned Po that not all hotels had hot water, but this one does. I had also read that it had wifi with Internet, which it does between 5 and 10 pm when the generator is on. It is not surprising though that it is really slow. I managed to post a few photographs to Facebook, but the blog update failed. It just gave an error. So I will keep typing these as a journal and upload later.

We moved into the dining room. Our waitress came to take our order. She spoke to us in French. I could understand her, but did not know the word for octopus. Finally she came up with the English word. It was a fixed three course meal, take it or leave it. It was lamb which we love, so Po took that. I had everything including the octopus salad and creme caramel for dessert. The food was okay, but not to the standard we had had on the boat.

My French was being put to the test as the waitress was asking us about breakfast, the time and whether we wanted the continental or American breakfast. I asked the difference and when eggs were mentioned we said we wanted omelettes. A few minutes later she came back and explained (which I suspected) that since we are on the half board basis that we only get the cheap breakfast. I felt bad about not getting an omelette, but good that I could get understand all this in French. I can see where our interaction would have been a bit frustrating for someone with no French.

We fought with the Internet for awhile and then gave up and went back to our rooms. At first things were really noisy, coming from the bar and another of the famadihana celebrations. But the bar noise ended and the celebration was far enough away that it was an interesting sound to go to sleep to.

The room has shutters on the windows. If they are closed there are screens and air can come through the louvres only, but to really get circulation you have to open the windows. But there would be no screens. Po agreed to have the windows open, but it turned out that it was quite okay without. Again, there are no signs of mosquitos.

José was to pick us up at 7 am, so the alarm was set for 5:45.

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