Suitcase and World: July 2015

Friday, July 10, 2015

Roadtrip Back to Tana....Again.

My view.  With those glasses, he looks like a creature from Madagascar :-)

It took us almost 14 hours from the time we left our hotel in Morondava to the time we arrived at our hotel in Tana. Yes, we had a few breaks - especially as we were making our way out of Morondava but for the most part, it was driving, driving, driving. Ugh!

A Few Hours in Morondava.

Early morning in Morondava.

For us, Morondava was just a place to spend the night, on our way back to Tana. But that didn't mean we didn't have some fun while we were here. The highlights of our short stay was an amazing dinner and an impromptu and very memorable performance by Jean Claude.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Sunset at the Avenue of the Baobabs. Wow!

Sunset at the Avenue of the Baobabs.  You can see a faint image of the rising moon, just above the setting sun.

After getting off the ferry that brought us down the Tsiribihina River, it was a 3.5 hour drive before we would arrive back at the Avenue of Baobabs - well ahead of sunset.

We were all pretty quiet on the drive - not much to talk about really.  The scenery was also pretty ho-hum.

Backtracking to the Avenue of the Baobabs.

Two of the men working the ferry.

I woke up so refreshed this morning. Yesterday's hike through the Big and Little Tsingy's no doubt tired me out but also last night, I slept outside the mosquito tent with the window opened.  It was the perfect sleeping temperature for me.  George insisted I go under the tent (No, George, the tent is NOT my friend) so I wouldn't get bitten by mosquitoes but it's been so cold at night, I figured mosquitoes are nowhere to be found. I was bite free this morning.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Bekopaka Village and Little Tsingy.

At Little Tsingy.  From left to right:  Zara, George, and Jean Claude.

Our reward for climbing up and back down Big Tsingy was lunch!  I was hungry!  From Big Tsingy, we drove back to the small village of Bekopaka.  It was about an hour's drive.

Earlier in the day, we had passed through the village.  We briefly stopped outside a local restaurant so that Jean Claude could speak with the owner and pre-order our lunch for us.  Jean Claude had asked if we would be interested in having some coconut chicken for lunch and of course, we were both up for it even though neither George nor I had any clue what coconut chicken was exactly but we were game to try it.

Rock Climbing Adventure. The Big Tsingy.

Rock climbing in Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park.  We did it!!

Wow! What a great day we had today! We both tackled something that was completely out of our comfort zones and not only did we survive, we rocked!

Our day started bright at early.  We were back at the main lodge building at 6a.  Before sitting down and having breakfast, we dropped our our laundry.  By 6:30, I was standing next to our SUV, waiting for George and Jean Claude to show up.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

On The Way to Bekopaka. Part 2.

Taking in the sunset at HĂ´tel L'Olympe du Bemaraha, Bekopaka.

Continuing from the previous blog post.  After lunch, Jean Claude wanted to go the town's market and I was more than happy to go again.  This time George came along.  We entered the same way I had except this time, we walked into the produce section.  This may be one of the poorest countries in the world but they can grow enough produce, of good quality, to feed themselves.

On the Way to Bekopaka. Part 1.

On the ferry ride up the Tsiribihina River.

The unexpected highlight of today were two ferry rides.

Althought t was another long road trip today, it was a day that we got to see a lot of local life.  We left our lodge, in the Kirindy Forest, around 10a.  We started out on a really rough road - that would be a road that is unpaved and full of ruts.  Our driver, Faly, took it very slow.

Spotting Wildlife in Kirindy Forest.

Verreaux's sifaka (Propithecus verreauxi)

Brrr....It was cold when I got out of bed this morning.  In fact,  sometime in the middle of the night, I woke up to close, though not all the way, the window above my bed.  After getting out of bed, I stepped outside and blowing through my mouth, I could see my breath.  It seemed colder than yesterday morning.  I don't have any warm clothing with me so I hope the temperatures would rise as the morning progresses.   Just in case, I went ahead and layered on two t-shirts underneath my long sleeved shirt.

Monday, July 6, 2015

The Road to Kirindy With Baobabs Along the Way.

At the Avenue of the Baobabs.

Today was a really long travel day. Distance wise, we only had to travel about 300 kilometers but the road was so bad that it took a long time to get to our final destination, our lodge inside Kirindy Metea National Park.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

On the Way to Antsirabe.

This is Madagascar!

After a quick visit to the Croc Farm, located just a short distance from Ivato Airport, we drove back to Rija's house.

Two days ago, when we arrived, he had informed us of the Air Madagascar strike which had already been going on for two weeks and did not show any sign of ending.

Croc Farm!

I can't remember exactly how I came to find out about the existence of a crocodile farm in Tana. I think it was when I was looking at a Google map of where our hotel was located - the croc farm showed up as a pin on the map and I clicked on it out of curiosity.  I do remember watching a YouTube video about the farm.  After that, I put it on our itinerary for Tana.

Roadtrip Back To Tana.

-t-r-e-t-c-h and y-a-w-n.  It was another early wake up call this morning but I slept well last night.  Not so for poor George.  My snoring kept him up :-(

Shortly after 6a, we were back in the restaurant for breakfast.  George had a simple continental breakfast and I broke down and had coconut pie and a cup of tea.  Yes, coconut is a fruit and the crust is starch....same thing as jam on toast.  So....there.  My pie was quite delicious.

Our Andasibe Home. Hotel Feon'ny Ala.

We stayed at the Feon' ny Ala Hotel for two nights when we were in Andasibe.  Nothing fancy but perfectly comfortable.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

More Animals (Yay!) and Andasibe Village.

Awww......A pair of adorable and super friendly brown lemurs.  I wanted to bring them both home with me.

Our afternoon kicked off with having to jumpstart our car!  When Beeo turned the ignition and we all heard the familiar clicking sound of a dead battery.  My first instinct was to get the jumper cables out and find someone who would help us jumpstart the car.  Of course, this is not the US and jumper cables are not a common item.  So, to get the car going, Beeo enlisted the help of his fellow drivers and George to push the car to get it going.

In Search of Lemurs. Andasibe-Mantadia National Park.

Waiting for breakfast.

Today was our first full day in Madagascar and we kicked it off bright and early!   There really is no rest for the weary traveler.  Luckily, neither George suffer from jetlag!

It was cool when I woke up and when I opened the front door of our bungalow, I could see it that it was raining but it was so gentle that it was more of a mist.

We had a quick breakfast in the hotel restaurant.  The usual tourist fare as I would call it - some sort of bread/pastry things with a serving of eggs, cooked whatever way you prefer.  George washed down his meal with a cup of coffee and as usual, I had tea.  Our meal started with two glasses of milky colored liquid.  Both George and I had the same reaction when we saw the waiter bringing it to us - we don't want milk.  The waiter replied that it wasn't milk; that it was juice.  Hmmm.....I don't know of too many juices, except for coconut milk, that are white in color so I was definitely intrigued.  I took a sip and I was pleasantly surprised.  I took a second sip to be sure and indeed, it was custard apple juice that I was tasting.  There is no mistaking the flavor or custard apple as it is one of my favorite fruits and it is grown in Madagascar.

Friday, July 3, 2015

First Views of Antananarivo.

There is no rest for the weary traveler, at least for George and I.  Our original plan was to spend our first night in Madagascar at a hotel in Tana which is how locals refer to Antananarivo.  The next day, we would embark on a 3 hour drive to Andasibe-Mantadia National Park and spend a day and night there.   But, when I sent a reminder to Rija that we would be arriving into Tana shortly after 2p, he suggested that we head straight to the park instead of spending the night in Tana.  That way, we would have more time in the park.  I thought that was a good idea so I agreed.

Madagascar, Here We Come!

At O. R. Tambo Airport, Johannesburg, South Africa

Yesterday, George and I finally left home and began our long journey to Madagascar! I couldn't believe this day had finally come around - it's been months since we both decided to go on this trip.