Thursday, 7 October 2010

Madagascar: part 4

Sur la route du nord de Nosy Be
After having slept in my bungalow on the beach in Ankify, i departed with a good breakfast in my belly for the port. There i took a motor boat for Nosy Be. The boat was chartered for me alone, but the "driver" asked me if there was any problem if he took two other persons, a girl and a child. I told him: tsis problem (no problem). The transfer to the island took us past Nosy Komba, and took approximatively 45 minutes to complete.

Once on the island, a driver got hold of me as i stepped ashore. He told me he was to bring me to my hotel, which was La Maison des Parfums, which i didn't remember at this time. The initial tour finished with my transfer to Nosy Be, this part i have organised later on. But always with the same travel agency (Evasion sans Frontières, if you ask for Asimbola you'll be sure to get quick answers). So i asked the driver how far the hotel was from Hell Ville, which is Nosy Be's primary town. He told me about 12km (or that's what i remember), which was approximatively right. So i asked him about renting a scooter or a small motorbike to get around freely and easily, because taxis would not be easy on some hours, and quite a pain if you wanted to be quickly somewhere. So there i went renting my small motorbike in Ambatoloaka. It was actually more of a scooter, but needed changing gear (without débrayer). So i followed my driver to the hotel on my scooter.

Once there i learned the manager was away, so i would have to wait until he arrived. I began reading, and some time later, the girl at the desk gave me my room anyway. When the manager, Mamy, arrived, i presented myself to him. He's a nice fellow who always smiles and always is ready to laugh. I asked him about diving and he told me he would ask the diving club Madaplouf, which is 50m left on the beach, to come by the same evening. As i had already planned to see another guy from Evasion sans Frontière, the same evening, this was fine. He then told me the beach at Madirokely always has something on on sunday afternoons, so i took a shower, and went on away on my scooter.

Boa dans le PN de Lokobe sur Nosy Be
I missed the turn to the village because there is no sign. So i arrived in the next town, which happens to be Ambatoloaka. There i thought, maybe i could eat something, and i drove slowly to get a look at a place where i could spot sakafe (food). I drove by a bar, and a guy named Gülüt or something like this, hailed me and wanted me to take him with me so he could show me the island. I told him i didn't want, but that i was hungry, so he showed me a little place where i ate a lot of rice and a bit of meat for 2000 Ariarys (~ chf 1.10). When i finished i went back to the bar, and we spent some time drinking THB and talking about stuff. A bit later we went to the beach at Madirokely and drank some THB there until it was time for me to get back to the hotel to prepare for my tours and divings.

The travel agent offered me to go visit Lokobe National Park, which is on the south eastern tip of Nosy Be. This is a one day trip for people who want it adventurous. It begins like always, a drive over a trail ;-). From there on, we had it a bit rougher and more sportive: we had to paddle a sea pirogue through really small waves to the entry point of the park, which is a small village on a beach. The pirogue trip took about 45 minutes in time and some skin on my hands. Once there, i was in a terrible condition, because i knew we would have to paddle the whole way back. In the park we saw lots of lemurs sitting, jumping, sleeping, eating and so on. We saw small snakes, the travellers tree (so called because he has water in its leafs, it's also the symbol of Madagascar which is used by Air Madagascar too) and two boas. We were really close (we even touched them) and my dad asked me later if it wasn't dangerous so close by a snake (he saw the picture and that it was taken with a 55mm angle). I could have taken it on my shoulders if i wanted to, because the guide asked me so. I didn't want to... We scrambled a bit more through the relatively thick forest and later got back to the village to eat. We had fish, crab, thuna fish, rice and more. It was excellent food like always.

Michele, the owner of Madaplouf came by the previous evening and offered me to begin with a Discover Scuba Diving program for one day, which wouldn't get me to anything useful, but would introduce me to diving. I hadn't scuba dived since i was in Australia (on the Great Barrier Reef). This is what i did the first day, but it's actually the first PADI step to certification. My first moment under water i got a little panicky as i thought i couldn't breathe enough air, so i quickly got back up. I calmed down and down again we went. We made some exercises like letting water into the mask or losing the breathing tube and put it on again. I did well and i decided to continue. In all we were under water for about 40 minutes exercising and watching the submarine life. The second day was pretty much the same with some other exercises too. I then got my first scuba diving certificate, which allows me to dive with an instructor no more than 12m deep. The next step will be to get the PADI Open Water Scuba Diver certificate, which actually is the first level.

The rest of the time i mostly drove around, drank beer, ate banana muf (beignets à la banane). We went to Mont Passot and took the northern road to drive around Nosy Be with Gülüt as guide.

I almost forgot: it was Donia time from 20th Sept. to 3rd Oct. Donia is a celebration for life on the island. On wednesday we went to see the carnival and on thursday evening it was the first festival day. Unfortunately the band was quite unknown and there was almost nobody there. Imagine Paleo with only a few hundred people and you will get the feeling.

On friday afternoon i took my last domestic flight back to Antananarivo.