4 WD Tour from Belo sur Mer to Andavadoka

Stumpy Baobab trees

Stumpy Baobab trees

We left Belo sur Mer early as we had long and dusty way ahead of us. Just outside of this little fishing village are large salt pans, some dry, some muddy. It’s best to drive around, or when going thru the mud, not to follow a previous track. Anyhow, I was still in early morning dose and only had one coffee,when I noticed that Odilon went thru the middle, the muddy bit and followed a track, which wasn’t straight, due to slippery surface. My eyes widened quickly, and I said no no no no noooooo…
Too late… we were stuck… in salty mud, we haven’t even driven 10 minutes. Odilon of course tried it with power, backwards and forwards, twisting and turning the steering wheel, which had become a stirring wheel by now.  Mud, thick salty mud covered the whole car.
I just thought, I don’t need this! I just got up, had one coffee,and not even started on breakfast, there is absolutely no way I am getting out of this car.
Meanwhile, about 20 young local men arrived to the scene, some laughing,some yelling and soon enough the palaver started with Ninah and Odilon. ‘Cool’ I thought, ‘thats that sorted’. I was pouring a well needed coffee, when I realised  that the young men had all walked of…??? I looked at Ninah,and didn’t even have to ask…? too much money she said!!!  I said ok, and sipped on my coffee. When I finished it, I turned around again and said that there is no way in hell that we get out of here without them. Please bear in mind, that we don’t speak much of each other’s language. Shortly after, the young men returned and after some more haggling, the pushing can begin. ‘This will be interesting’ I thought, ‘I hope they know what they are in too’…I couldn’t wait to see this.

First, we tried to go forward…all men behind the car, pushing. Odilon revving up the engine, not keeping the wheel straight… and they got absolutely covered in mud and we didn’t get anywhere. The commotion following, after the men realised what they were in too was quite amusing, it was very, very hard not to crack up laughing. Then it was decided that going backwards was best… and it was, because I had a better view! We even got away for 3 meters, but got stuck again as Odilon swerving the wheel tried to follow the track. Those young men already covered in mud, kept on going. Ok, one more round. This time, I poured myself another coffee,t rying to hide the fact, that I was about pissing myself laughing…and again… 3 meters, and down again! I couldn’t take this anymore, not for those poor souls pushing…and the car steaming. Next thing we have engine failure and then I would have to get out of the car. I told Odilon to keep the wheel straight, at all cost, and not to follow those tracks. When he started swerving again, I grabbed the steering wheel and kept it straight… and guess what? It worked. The only thing I regret was not having taken any photos… these would have been incredible shots. The car was literally covered in thick salty mud, who knows how much went on the chassis and engine room.

A mud covered Kat Kat, Ninah Clara using the mud for some face painting

A mud covered Kat Kat, Ninah Clara using the mud for some face painting

Apart from spending an hour stabilising the suspension, the rest of the day was spent in the car, until we arrived in Morombe, another fishing village.

Pirogue fishermen

Pirogue fishermen

Fishing is the main income and food source for most, in these remote villages along the west coast.

Youngster in pirogue

Youngster in pirogue

Lots and lots of fishing pirogues are nestled along the beach, using any kind of material for the sails. Quite colourful.

Pirogue line up

Pirogue line up

We were back at mora mora time, and the atmosphere was back to usual happy.

Baobab tree In spiky environment

Baobab tree In spiky environment

We passed thru another large congregation of baobab trees, which were more impressive and spectacular then the ‘alley’, due to the fact that no tourists were to be found anywhere. These were a different kind of the 7 species of Baobab tree. Shorter and stumpier, but still in impressive size.

Stumpy baobab tree

Stumpy baobab tree

They sure looked like an alien kind of some sort. Perfect spot for coffee and picnic.

Coffee break, Ninah Clara made the best coffee

Coffee break, Ninah Clara made the best coffee

We arrived early in Andavadoka, which means hole in the rock, which is hard to miss.

Hole in the rock

Hole in the rock

This little town, even more remote then other villages, was quite busy with lots of other Wassa.
There are lots of volunteers in marine environments here, trying to save this reef, the largest of Madagascar.

Afternoon pirogue tour over shattered reef

Afternoon pirogue tour over shattered reef

I paddled out with a piroguist to go snorkeling, which was a rather frustrating experience. A lot, and I do mean a lot of coral was destroyed, covering the ocean floor. So sad to see. I just hope the outer reef is in better shape.

Coral and sea shells

Coral and sea shells

At late afternoon, the guide from the other 4 WD, who had followed us for the last few days, came up to me and offered some barrak and rum while we were watching the sunset.

Sunset over Andavadoka

Sunset over Andavadoka

He spoke very good English and I could finally have a conversation about life on Madagascar.
I told him that I was truly amazed by this country and it’s people. Always friendly and happy, with almost no possessions and money. If only their government would think like that.
We had a very similar mindset and therefore got on very well. I showed him some of my photos I had taken so far and transferred on the iPad. He was clearly stunned, he kept staring at the photos in awe. In particular the Baobab photos, when he told me all about the Baobab trees.

Ninah Clara’s Version of a Baobab tree

Ninah Clara’s Version of a Baobab tree

We later decided to have a drink at the local bar, where they played traditional Malagasy folk music, this time I was in awe; the way they move their bodies to this uplifting beat, the passion about their music, almost in Trance. Wow, very proud young men. Very impressive and great to watch.
We decided to take a roadie ( beer ) home and have a chat under their stars in front of my tent, with one last barrak. What an incredible unexpected experience this whole night was. Being a Tour guide for many years, he hoped that more tourists would be as understanding and passionate about this country, like I am. I felt very humble.
I gazed at the stars for a while before falling asleep, what a day, what a night, what an adventure so far. Misotta Malagasy.

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