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.


A familiar sight.  Once a forest, now the burned tree trunks, soon to be farmland.

Then, I spotted the familiar orange colored SUV.  Indeed, it was Matthias and Trini with their driver/guide.  When we had left them at lunch, we had wished them safe journey and we said we would meet back up with them at the Avenue of the Baobabs as they were headed there as well.  I didn't expect to see them on the roadside but as it turned out, we would off and on pass each other.  This time, it was our turn to whizz by them.  At least they waved and flashed us smiles!  They are a very lovely couple.

We found out later that Trini hadn't been feeling well - vomiting a lot.  Luckily, she's in good hands as Matthias is a doctor who specializes in infectious diseases.  I'm sure he has medication with him that will help relieve her discomfort.



As the sun was starting to make it's way down, we arrived back into the land of the baobabs.  I love these trees.


We stopped to admire a particularly unique specimen - two trees that had twisted together, inseparable, like two lovers.  Hence the name they've been given - Baobab Amoureux.  These two trees also happen to belong to a rather rare species of baobab Adansonia za






Nearby was a group of souvenir vendors selling small wooden carvings of baobab trees - pretty much similar to what George had bought the day before yesterday.  After he bought his, I decided I wanted one too.  Scanning the offerings on the table, my eyes fell for a small piece carved out of a black colored wood.  When I picked it up, the man said it was ebony but I had spotted the woman, sitting on the ground behind him, rubbing what looked like clear shoe polish on a natural wood piece.  It made me wonder if the black pieces were just colored with black shoe polish.  In any event, I didn't care if it was ebony or not, I liked the piece and decided to buy it.  George negotiated a small discount - from 16,000 to 12,000 ariary which comes up to less than $4 USD.   A very nice souvenir for the price and in my mind, it wasn't worth bargaining to take away a few more pennies or even a dollar from someone who obviously needed the money more than I did.


 


On our drive, we also spotted pond.  A large group of ducklings were frolicking in the water.


We had to stop to take a look at the darling ducklings.  


We also had to get closer shots of the beautiful purple water lilies which I have never seen blooming in the wild.


Water holds food not just for animals but also for people.  I spotted a group of villagers pulling up something from the water - perhaps lily bulbs?


We often crossed paths with small herds of zebu which was made more challenging in this one instance when the road was narrow and we had an SUV approaching from the opposite direction.   Driving in Madagascar is not easy!


By around 4:30pm, we had arrived back at the Avenue of the Baobabs.   Faly and Jean Claude dropped George and I off with instructions to meet back up with them at the parking lot.  They didn't indicated when we had to get back to them so presumably, we could stay as long as we wanted to.

I started taking photos of the magnificent trees as soon as I was out of the car.  I loved the way the sun cast a faint orange glow on the enormous tree trunks.



George had already figured out where he was going to stand to take in the sunset so he immediately made a beeline for the spot.  I decided it was too early to join him so I walked around - taking in views of the trees and the village life that was taking place around them.  This may be a very popular tourist spot but many locals call it their home.  The road that cuts through the row of trees is also a pretty busy transportation route for the locals.









The sun soon dropped to a point where I decided it was time for me to get into place as well.  George had positioned himself pretty smack dab in the middle of the line of trees.  I walked towards him, pausing every few feet to take in the view.  I stopped where I thought the view would be best.  I could capture the line of trees with the sun.   There was quite a crowd all around me but everyone was respectful of not blocking the people around them.


As the sun continued to drop towards the horizon, I played around with the settings on my camera to make sure I had good settings to capture the silhouette of the trees with the setting sun.  I wanted the sun's rays to show up as a starburst.  Okay, that's a grand vision for a person who is a decent photo taker but by no stretch of anyone's imagination, an advanced level photographer.


In any event, I had plenty of time to tinker around with my camera - adjusting ISO and f-stop settings and then checking out the results.  I found that I had to keep tinkering as the sun set and with it, changing light.


I also moved a bit more towards the center of the line of trees and although the photo makes it look like I was indeed in the center, I'm actually a bit off to one side.  Not the best photo but really not bad.

I hung around until the sun almost disappeared from view.  I decided it would be a good time to beat the crowd out of the field.


It was still light enough to take more photos.  This is the light that I love to shoot in so shoot I did.


That's George leaning against this magnificent baobab.



I kept taking photos as I walked towards the parking lot.  



As it turned out, George was just a few feet behind me.  I had him pose for the obligatory photo.  We have to do something about this travel wardrobe or maybe just toss those pants :-)


When we got back on the road, the sky took on colors of yellow, orange and purple.  It was stunning!  George and I immediately had the same thought - we should have stayed at the Avenue for just a bit longer.  The silhouette of that row of trees against this sky would have been something truly special.  As we drove along, I managed to take a picture of alone tree against this stunning sky.  Even for me, this is a *wow* photo.


Soon, we left the land of the baobabs behind and continued our journey to Morondava.  Never in a million years did I ever think I would see a baobab in Madagascar. Not only did I get to see them but I saw them twice and on the second time, at sunset!  How lucky I am!