Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Baobab Forest and on to Salary Bay

September 3

I woke up about 4 am. This getting to bed at 10 and before is not normal for me. Back in Newfoundland I stay up far too late, usually getting to bed well after midnight. So with getting to bed early, I am also getting up early. So I did my blog notes. Someday I will have fast internet and be able to post these things.

We headed out to breakfast just before 6. The village was getting up for work. Several pirogues passed in front of the hotel. Some were paddling, a few were putting up their sails. Our breakfast was served. Unlike Manja, we were the only ones up. We had the usual of bread, but it was fresh and the coffee was good.

José had washed the truck yesterday, so we jumped into a clean vehicle and headed out. The track was a bit sandy, but apparently not the bad stuff we were headed for. There were little villages along the route, but virtually no other traffic. For the next several hours the only two motorized vehicles we would see was a transport truck going our direction, which we had a follow for a few kilometres and then passed us when we stopped at the baobab forest, and an ATV coming the other way.

We passed some small villages. There was sugar cane growing in the fields. We stopped briefly at a couple of baobabs and next to a lake with some flamingoes. Then we reached an open area and saw the baobab forest. It was amazing. We walked among the trees. I took lots of photographs. This is the place that made the whole trip down between Morandava and Tulear worthwhile. And there is no way to get there without enduring dreadful roads one way or the other. I stayed as long as I could among the trees. I could have stayed for hours.

But José was anxious to get into the “dancing”. He had warned us about this. We were entering a long stretch of sand, unlike others we had encountered. José said we would be “dancing” as we went from side to side with the swaying of the truck. He did not exaggerate. It was bad. At times our bodies were just whipping back and forth. I had never seen (or felt) anything like it, although I had driven in sand in Botswana and we have encountered lots of sand track here in Madagascar. It not only was bad, it did not end. It took us an hour and a half to get through it. José used low 4 wheel drive gear for most of it.

Shortly before we finished this stretch, José pulled the truck to a stop and told us we could get out and enter the baobab beside the road. This tree had an opening and the inside was hollow. We could easily stand up inside. In fact the “ceiling” was well over our heads.

We carried on. The side by side was done, but now we had the up and done motion for a long stretch. The bad roads took us all the way to the Salary Bay Hotel, our home for the next two nights.

The site of the hotel is spectacular. The hotel looks like a town on a Greek island with white walkways and rooms built into the hill side. The tide was out and people were walking far out in the bay. The water was an amazing turquoise. And we were not going to be riding in the truck for almost two full days!

Just like at the Entremer we were served a tasty juice on arrival. We were also given wet towels so we could clean up a bit. We were asked our order for lunch. I ordered one each of the starter, shrimp cocktail, and the main course, calamari, for us to share. We are eating way more than we are used to at home.

We said we wanted to get settled before lunch, so were led down a stone walkway to our room, a white stone hut with a thatched roof. All the guests have their own units. We have a downstairs bed and up some open risers there are two single beds. The roof area is open, so even though we have a sliding door and windows, above the wall is all open. We will sleep under a mosquito net.

We enjoyed our lunch and after a brief rest went to the office area where there is Internet between 3 and 5 each afternoon. We were there first so we had a seat on the little couch. We got to work on our things, me updating Facebook and the blog. Since I am retired and did not set up the town emails on this iPad, I do not get emails that need a response. Po gets real emails and received one that needed response as it is related to the research project that she will help with and incorporate into her doctorate program. After a few minutes the area was packed, including our new French friends from the road. I showed them a photograph I took during the eclipse with one of the men of their group pointing to the sky as he shared his special eclipse glasses with a young man. Beside him are women hiding under blankets.

Our electronic requirements somewhat sated, we went for a short walk. We ended up on the beach, and I took a quick plunge in the bay. The water was quite warm.

We returned from the beach. I decided to try the shower. Surely this place would have hot water. I let the water run for a long time. Finally I went with a cold shower. Po got in and within moments had a nice hot shower. I was just not patient enough.

We had grilled seafood for supper. I had doubted my selection all afternoon (of course we selected our supper at lunch time) since pizza was the other option. It seemed like a nice change. But I did not regret having the grilled seafood. One of the selections was some type of lobster tail. It seemed different than our Newfoundland kind. It was very good. The staff and owner were dressed for dinner. The ladies served our standard 1.5 litre bottle of water as if it was wine.

After dinner we retired to our little cottage, Po read a little, I did some blog notes as we settled under our mosquito net and went to sleep to the sound of the waves.

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