We came down to have our breakfast. We were placed at a table (every hotel outside of Antananarivo has reserved a place for us) in the courtyard between the restaurant building and the accommodation block. A few minutes later a couple wearing backpacks came up to us and asked if we were going to Belo sur Mer and if so, could we give them a lift. They had planned to take the taxi brousse, but it did not run everyday and they had reservations in Belo sur Mer. We agreed to help them.
I asked them how they found us. They had contacted all the hotels in town looking for anybody headed to Belo sur Mer.
They are Polish. She is a medical student. He works with computer software. They came out to Madagascar as part of a volunteer program. They had spent some weeks in Antisirabe at a hospital. They were now doing a quick tour before heading back home. Their names (as they wanted them listed for the blog) are Przemek Blasiak and Magda Pawica.
We headed towards our room to finish packing. José, as usual, was waiting at the bottom of the stairs next to his vehicle. He said it was totally up to us as to whether we were willing to share the vehicle. He said he had received inquiries along the way but had deflected them. We said we were okay with taking these folks.
Before leaving town we had to exchange some money. While Po went in, I quickly took some photographs of the area near the bank. It turned out that I could have done a major walk, as it took a long time for Po and Przemek to get their money. Before leaving town José stopped at a little convenience store for us to get some bottled water. He then took me next door to a little market to for me to buy my bananas.
Off we went. We were to cross two large rivers. In the rainy season they are impassable. But in the dry season you can just drive across. After crossing the first one, Kabotomena, there was a log barrier blocking the road. A man came over and José gave him some money. We could pass through. Later we passed through a village. There was another barrier. A lady came out, José gave her money, she removed the barrier so we could pass through. We drove over the second river, the Maharivo. Again there was a barrier and money paid.
José’s explanation was that these people do some maintenance on the paths. For the river they put markers and branches to help with traction. The village moved the road to make passage easier. The government does nothing to maintain the roads. The locals do something and want to get paid, it provides a little money for their villages.
There was very little traffic on this road. We did not see vehicles, only zebu and people.
We came to a big pool of water. José expertly drove the 4 x 4 through. The water came almost over the hood but we made it easily. Later at the hotel a group of new arrivals came. We learned that one group had to be rescued by the other when the one vehicle did not make it.
We arrived at our hotel, the Entremer. We thought we had arrived in heaven. It is just an amazing place. It is right on the channel. There was a beautiful breeze blowing off the water. Our bungalow has only one room (some have two). It is right up front facing the beach. I think we got the best room in the place.
We went to the dining room for lunch. The owner, Laurence, explained some activities we could do tomorrow, everything from going snorkelling to visiting a local village. The Polish couple bought us lunch. A lot of salads were brought out. Laurence explained their meticulous method of cleaning the vegetables so that we were comfortable eating them. We are warned against eating uncooked items, which can be quite frustrating. We enjoyed a feast of bread and salads. Then we were surprised with some fish, lots of fish, delicious fish, a fish called Carangue. Laurence buys her fish straight from the local fishermen.
We enjoyed the company of our new friends. It was nice to be able to comfortably speak English with some other tourists. You do not realize how much you miss that until you do not have it for several days.
After lunch we wanted to visit the village of Belo sur Mer. It is a short distance away, but in order to get there, you could do a long walk, or be sent across the lagoon in a pirogue. We accepted the lift.
Belo sur Mer is a big boat building centre. They specialize in large dhows known as boutres. There were partially built boutres everywhere. We watched men at work on their boutres. There was a boutre being unloaded next to shore with men were carrying large sacks to shore.
We wandered along the beach checking out the activities. We were surrounded by children doing the usual “ waza bon bon” or most often “waza photo”. We walked into the interior of the town, past some of their small stores and a couple of bars and returned to the shore. Laurence had told us just to walk back to where we were left, that we would be seen, “a couple of white people” and a pirogue would come and get us. So after a few minutes a pirogue came to get us.
It was getting late in the afternoon. It was time for another sunset photo and then get cleaned up for supper. In order to conserve energy, the lodge does not provide hot water from the tap. In order to get a nice hot “shower” they have set up solar heating. Used water bottles are filled and put into this box. It is closed and the sun going through the glass heats the water to a high temperature. You take a few bottles of this back to your bathroom and mix it with cold water. You then take the result and pour cups of this over your body. It provides a very nice bath, certainly better than simply having a cold shower.
We went in for supper at 7:30. We had a place setting for ourselves. When our new Polish friends arrived, I suggested that they could dine with us. We had no idea the confusion this was going to cause but finally we sorted out with a larger table for the four of us. The food was marvellous, just like lunch. We had a couple of different types of fish including barracuda.
After supper we walked over to our bungalow. We gazed at the millions of stars. We have been admiring the night sky at most of our stops. The sky was truly amazing when we were camping and was equally so here in Belo sur Mer. The night had really cooled so our bungalow was quite comfortable for a good night’s sleep with our heavenly thoughts.