I woke up to a Facebook message from Ninah, just saying Misotta (thank you). When we met a little while later, she looked tired, but relieved. She hadn’t slept much, neither had Odilon, and neither had I.
A lot to think about, but we’re on the right track. We stopped in town, Ninah went shopping. But what she bought surprised me. Some sort of bible. I didn’t expect that.
We were on our way to Andasibe, where the elusive Indri, Madagascar’s largest lemur, lives. Their howling is heard for miles through thick forest. If there was something planned before my arrival on Madagascar, this would be part of it. Fortunately, there are a quite a few national parks and reserves in that area, a sign of ecological preservation and protection. And we were going to a few of them. I can’t wait!
A bright sunny day for a cruisy drive. The atmosphere was electric, one could feel a very content and happy vibe. Ninah and Odilon were jamming to Odilon’s Malagasy music collection, which I almost know by heart meanwhile. Really cool tunes. I stuck my head out the window, like I do so often, watching and greeting locals, who always return a hand wave and smile. I felt like a puppy, that sticks the head out the car window, excited for what’s to come.
We arrived Andasibe just before dark and I went straight on a nocturnal tour with local guide Everest. He found a liking for my strong head lamp and raced off, passing fellow tour groups.
We saw the elusive and cute mouse lemur, poor thing got blinded by flash lights, a few chameleons and some tiny frogs. Very cute indeed.
We checked in to our hotel, had dinner and an early night.
I woke up early to a chilly morning. What an amazing sight.
The village and nearby forest was covered in thick fog. With the sun breaking through it is a photographer’s delight.
Normally invisible spiderwebs were covered in water drops, stuck out like paintings in between flowers and trees.
Roads seem to disappear in to clouds, train tracks led to nowhere fast. We could hear the Indri howling through the mist in not so far distance. Just wow, a great setting for a spooky movie. Guide Everest arrived at 7 am and after getting my hiking ticket for the National Park, we drove for a while through thick bush on a washed out muddy track.
I asked Odilon to stop randomly to make the most of this unusual spectacle at nature’s best. What a start to the day and I can feel this will continue.
It wasn’t long till the sun had broken through to another bright, sunny day. Ninah and Odilon had a wee chuckle about it, as it has become an insider joke, that weather clears up when I was around. Lucky me. We arrived at Parc National Mantadida, after pushing through some serious mud puddles. The ground was soft and soaked from previous rainy days, not too long ago. Everest was on a mission, just like last night. In thick forest, we lost track of his tracks a few times.
The three of us were imitating Tarzan and Jane, whilst he was side tracked. He was out to find the colourful, golden Sifaka, which we never did. We came across a family of bamboo lemurs, which are rather small, but oh so cute.
This thick rainforest is covered in colourful lush plants.
Around lunch time, Everest gave up his search for the sifakas and guided us to a waterfall, which was nice but didn’t give me much to ‘work’ with my camera.
He still had an ace up his sleeve, another lush waterfall. The hiking trail followed the creek with moss covered rocks and tree stumps in bright blue skies. A colourful nature paradise.
These waterfalls are one of the prettiest ones I have ever seen.
One could see through the waterfall like a window, showing moss covered rocks behind. I was right in my element again, trying to capture colours and shapes of nature.
We strolled back to our 4 WD and drove back to the hotel. I waited for Ninah and Odilon, who came a fair while later. They had something to tell me.‘Ben, you know…’ Odilon started the conversation, which always means something isn’t right. Ninah was sitting rather shy or submissive on the edge of the bed. It took me a while to work out what he wanted to say, communication is still slow going. He spoke for Ninah and said that her 5 year old girl kept calling her, asking for her mummy to return home. Since we have one more night in Andasibe and two scheduled nights in Antananarivo, he asked if I would mind, if Ninah goes back to Miandrivazo for two nights, per taxi Brousse. Ninah has gotten homesick and wanted to stay a night with family and friends, before rejoining us a few days later before we leave for Mahajunga.
We have traveled together for the last 6 weeks, she hadn’t been home once. She looked hopeful, with a hint of doubt that I wouldn’t agree. Of course I did, I was very happy for her to take that opportunity and urged her to go. I gave her my back up camera, and said that when she returns, I want to see happy photos of her and her baby, family and friends. This is a long journey via taxi Bruce, doing that twice, just to see her baby and family, was an impressive task. We had a group hug and I wished her a safe journey. I will miss her though.