Well, what a trip I was in for… from Morondava south towards Toliar, along Madagascar’s South Western coastline.
First planned stop was at Belo sur Mer. When Ninah told me we’re traveling by boat, I thought of a sailing ship or so… and it was, but not quite what I expected… an outrigger pirogue, with sails, 3 piroguistes, Ninah and me. I was a bit worried about my electrical stuff and OM-D, so that was put in plastic bags and I was assured that it will be safe.
Obviously no navigation utensils, or safety gear like life jackets etc. I wasn’t worried, as they are really stable and was looking forward to a new adventure.
We set sail at sunrise and once we passed the breaking reef, we cruised for a while with little wind and swell. Just like the last few days, the wind picked up around lunch time and got quite strong. Unfortunately, but as expected, the trade winds this time of year are southerlies, our direction. And with that the swell picked up to white caps. One of the piroguist stood on the outrigger, to keep the balance of wind and sail.
Salt water kept on lashing over and into our pirogue, which is not wider then 60 cm’s. I really enjoyed that and not once felt in danger. I even helped changing sail angle and this was great and I loved it! I don’t know exactly the distance between Morondava and Belo sur Mer, but it would take all day. As the swell gotten larger and the wind gotten too strong, the skipper then decided to take shelter in a large bay. Unfortunately, it was low tide and waters were shallow. I helped pushing and paddling and had a fab ol’ time… until we got to the beach and I realised, that all my stuff was drenched. The plastic bags were holey and my stuff was on the bottom of the boat, without elevation. Which means the water in the pirogue literally washed my electrical gear! It really is hard to explain what I thought at that moment… my adventure, literally my life washed out!!!
Ninah had a devastated look on her face but got in to action to dry everything off. She was looking almost more terrified then I was. Everything was spread out on the sail on the sand, which was kinda dry. Saltwater and sand, no need to explain. Fortunately, I put my stuff in plastic bags before which prevented a fair bit of damage. My camera was on top of my backpack and safe, lots of other stuff wasn’t. Even half of my diary was soaked. This clearly dampened the atmosphere for everyone. I was mainly frustrated and annoyed with myself; to not have checked the state of plastic bags and location of my stuff.. me, the worldly traveler, always organised, forward thinking etc…
But try to explain that to the locals and kids that swarmed me with their happy smiles. They don’t get many visitors around here, they are quite remote. These people have absolutely no possessions apart from a house and a pirogue to go fishing… puts life in to perspective right?
I had a rather quite night gazing at the stars, while Ninah was busy discussing our situation with the rest of the team. She then told me of a change in plans to continue our journey.
Early morning high tide and we took the pirogue over to the other side of the bay.
A porter, to carry oven and supplies and so on, Ninah who carried my tent and sleeping bag on her head and I, carrying my stuff, got out and started walking…….…a good 10 km’s, along a dried river bed in already hot temperatures.
We met some locals at the pick up point for the Kat Kat (4WD), who were very friendly, as always. Not long after, the Kat Kat arrived and I met the driver, Odilon. We were on our way to Belo sur Mer, which still took a few more hours. We were still a way off our target.
I set up my tent and dried out my gear, then had a closer look on saltwater damage;
I lost 3 OM-D batteries,and my original charger for them, lucky I brought a back up one.
my phone, I only used twice,and mostly as an alarm clock……. my diary will need to dry out for weeks.
The atmosphere was still a bit low, but that was expected. After dinner by myself under the stars, I had a beer and a bit of barrak which survived the water and listened to Pink Floyd’s ‘The Wall’ album…. Which was an amazing night…
The small things that make the big difference, clearly obvious at that moment.