Friday, 16 September 2016

Leaving Madagascar

September 15

We had a wonderful lazy day at the hotel.  At breakfast I was offered an egg (in French). So I asked (in my French) if I was really allowed to have it with my continental breakfast. Oui. So I ordered an omelette. Po did not want one but asked for a croissant. That was going to cost more. Po being Po, refused to pay.

We did a little walk around the grounds. It is a big place with, as I mentioned yesterday, just amazing grounds. We found that the wifi for the rooms worked if we were sitting outside, so after our little walk we just just sat there for a few hours enjoying the atmosphere of the woods. I had no desire to venture outside the gates.  I talked to our neighbours. They were finishing a two week group tour of Madagascar and are off to Namibia and Botswana for three weeks. I have to get that trip planned.

José took us to the airport. It was a short ride. We said our goodbyes to José. He had been a major part of our life these past weeks. We gave him two envelopes, one with the money for the basketball and the other a tip. We based the amount of the tip on the advice of Espace Mada and paid more. We felt that it was generous. We hope that José will agree.

Po still had 90,000 Ariary. When she tried to exchange, they did not have the correct number of dollars or Euros so we still ended up with 15,900 Ariary, about 5 Euros.

Check in and passport control were quick. Next stop was security. When we were packing Po was trying to decide what to do with her metal baobab tree. It has a lot of branches, so sticks out quite a bit. And these are metal branches. We thought we might put it in my backpack, but we were wondering about security. Eventually I made the call on packing something (usually all packing decisions are Po’s) and showed her how she could fit it into her suitcase that was checked. She wrapped it up and that’s where it was when we got to security, heading to the plane in the checked bag. It was a very good thing that it was, because there in the display case of banned items was her baobab tree.

Once into the departure area Po looked for a way to spend our excess Ariary.  But of course everything was now priced in Euros, dollars or pounds. We went to the snack bar thinking they might take Ariary. There was not much to buy anyway. We looked at a sandwich but it was a couple of Euro, not Ariary. A lady showed Po the sign that said the currencies you could use. We really did not want the sandwich and walked away. That nice European lady then came up and offered us some Euros to get something to eat. I guess we looked kind of pitiful. If that was not bad enough, a little while later she came up again and offered Po some money. Maybe Po needs to buy some nicer clothes or something.

Other than the nice lady, it did not seem to be a happy departure lounge. First there was a man who seemed quite upset down at the snack stand. He was shouting a lot, something about being a crook. It looked like it could even get violent. Then there were the folks who were unhappy about getting their bags searched. It was a bit chaotic. There was a bit of shouting there as well.

There were no signs indicating gates. It seemed to take forever for the Turkish Air flight to Istanbul to get boarded. Then suddenly our flight got called. Then no more announcements Everyone just kind of pushed towards the gate.

There was extra security on the tarmac. As we were waiting to have our passport and boarding pass looked at, a couple of men in wheelchairs came up. We ended up following the one family to the plane and watched as two men had to carry the man up the stairs and then down the aisle to his seat.

The plane was a little late in boarding and little later for getting away, but that did not effect us. We were surprised to get a small meal on the one and one half hour flight.

The descent into Mauritius was really painful for me. I had managed to come down with a cold on my last day in Madagascar. I had taken cold tablets and had lots of cough drops to suck on. I did all the tricks of yawning, swallowing and Po’s favourite of holding your nose, closing your mouth and blowing. It was only after we reached the ground and I did Po’s thing that I could get my left ear to pop. I hope tomorrow morning in London will not be as bad.

We were off the plane quickly and in line for flight connections and passport control since we were in row 9, second row of the cheap seats. As we passed through there was a huge line behind us. We had enough time to stop at the same coffee kiosk where we had had coffee coming the other way (and ended up getting the coffee for free since their credit card machine was not working right). It worked this time.

The Mauritius airport is a totally different world. It is a very new building. There are the customary boards for showing flight information. I do not know anything about the Mauritian economy or political situation, but if the airport is an indication, it is levels above Madagacar. I am still trying to get my head around Madagascar and its level of development and will do a full blog on that.

Our flight was called and off we went towards London. We had the same number for seats, so right up front. I am not sure if it was just luck of the draw, timing or the work of the travel agency, but it is better to up front than in the back.

I was really concerned about all the flights, whether we would have any issues with delays, but so far all has gone more or less according to schedule.

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