Monday, 5 September 2016

On to Morombe

September 2

We did not need the alarm as the rooster made sure we were awake. We packed our things and got ready to go down to breakfast. We opened the door and found two men outside waiting to take our suitcases down to the vehicle. We followed them down. It was a couple of minutes after six, but the dining room was already busy. There are about six vehicles headed the same way as us today.  Everyone was trying to get an early start.

Breakfast was not bad. The coffee was good and the bread fresh. Considering the quality of the establishment, the food was quite okay.

Actually for a place that I was dreading so much, it was not all that bad. It was not dirty. We did not see any bugs (just a gecko or two). The bed was okay and the fan (and the time of year) made the room temperature comfortable for sleeping with the windows closed. I even had to get up and get the top sheet (it was folded with along with a blanket for possible use, not made up with the bed).  The real issue had been the noise from the town. Anyway, we will endure the next six hours and then make the final determination if the decision to stop was good, but I suspect at this point that it was.

We finished our breakfast quickly and found José waiting outside. He was trying to get our vehicle out. There were about 12 vehicles parked within the gates of the hotel, four rows of three. Our truck was in the last row. We went outside the gate to wait. Vehicle after vehicle came out to let ours out. I took a few photographs. It was busy for 6:30 but of course nothing like yesterday afternoon.

Everyone was bundled up for the cooler morning temperatures. A young boy was walking with his mother to the market. She had a basket of tomatoes on her head. He was carrying their bench. I asked to take his photograph and then snapped them as they walked away. He caught me in the act and smiled. I also asked mother with her children, all bundled up, if I could take their photo. They posed nicely.

José got the vehicle out and we were on our way. The road was bad. For awhile it very rocky. We went through some areas with baobabs. We crossed several irrigation ditches for rice fields and some deep water. The only motorized vehicles on the road seemed to be the tourist ones heading for the ferry. I was taking some baobab photos when the number three vehicle caught up to us. We wanted to keep our place in the front to make the first ferry. I scurried back to the truck to keep our place.

We got to the Mangoky River. It was not a hustling place like the Tsiribihina. There is only one ferry. It was on the other side of the water. Much of the river was dry at this point. The ferry made its way over. We loaded as the second vehicle, on came the third and we chugged over to the other shore. It was not far, but we did save about 45 minutes as the three remaining tourist vehicles would have to wait for our ferry to get to the far side and then for the ferry to return.

Now all the vehicles on the south side had to face the issue of the sandy river bed. I had walked off the ferry but was called back. José needed to gun it into the sand. He did not want to have to stop and pick me up. The first vehicle chose a path headed upstream. The one in front went straight ahead. It was getting bogged down and a large group of local men and boys raced to give it a push. Their help seemed a bit dubious as more seemed to be riding on the back than pushing. José wanted none of that and keep our vehicle running until we made to the top of the river bank.

We carried on towards Morombe and the coast. We passed many baobabs. I could delay us now as the race to the ferry was over so asked a few times to stop to get some shots. In one area there were huge rice fields. The area appeared more prosperous than where we have been travelling for some time. The drive seemed to go on and on, and up and down. The road was like a roller coaster with its eroded dips. It was hot and dusty. Finally we pulled into Morombe. We were glad that we did not try to do the drive from Belo sur Mer in one day.

We pulled into our home for one night, Chez Katia. It was next to the beach. Everyone was arriving at the same time. We were shown our room and then sat down to lunch. The dining room is a raised platform looking out on the water with beach umbrellas for cover. Not surprisingly, we had fish. These were barbecued kebabs.

Po had been trying to get José to have a meal with us. He finally agreed. He enjoyed our fish, shared a beer with me, and had his Malagasy style fish with rice as well. He added some hot chilli from a jar to liven things up. Johnny had done the same on the boat.

After lunch we walked along the beach. It was a busy place with all the sailing pirogues coming in from fishing. There were some young men mending their fishing nets. A lady asked me to take her photograph with her three young boys.

When the boats land people help to pull them away from the water. The catch is given to the women as they will sell it in the market. They sort the fish by size into two piles. We saw few large fish. One man had caught a barracuda. His wife posed for me with the catch.

I took many of the obligatory photographs of the children. Again, many wanted to see themselves on the camera. Others just wanted to pose and seemed content at that. On the way back towards the hotel a man asked me some questions in French. When he realized I spoke English, the switched and told us that he taught English in the local secondary school and really like to practice as he does not have any English speaking people to talk to.

We returned to the hotel and wanted to shower before supper. I wondered about the fact that the hot water heater was not plugged in. I thought that maybe the electric heater was for backup only since there were solar panels on the roof across the way and that we would have solar hot water. The water was not hot. We did quick sponge baths and got clean. We did not think too much about it until later when a German lady guest started yelling at everyone. Apparently we should have been informed that the heaters should be plugged in an hour before use. No one was so informed. The lady kept yelling at everyone for about 15 minutes.

Supper was tuna steaks. I had asked for my pomme frites. A somewhat exotic thing combined with a common thing. Both were tasty.

José told us that we needed to get another early start in the morning. We wanted to hit the sandy track before it got too hot. So another 6 am breakfast with a 6:30 start.

I wrote some blog notes for a few minutes but could not keep my eyes open, so went to sleep about 10.

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