I was up bright and early again, going to my local cafe stall. A coffee and three viera viera (not sure how they are spelled, but that’s how they are pronounced) like donuts deep fried dough balls, just without jam, were served, before I sat down. The same friendly, happy owners and customers. I just like sitting down in these cafes watching people in or around the cafe. Everyone is so friendly.
Odilon greeted me friendly back at the hotel, he was feeling much better today. A few shopping stops in town, before we were on our way to Parc National D’ankarafinktsa. Camping for two days, with Ninah’s cooking, surrounded by scrub and lemurs, I just couldn’t wait.
We were greeted by a group of Sifaka lemurs, hanging in a tree close by. I got a few good close up shots.We set up camp and I was introduced to local guide Gabriel. Shortly after we went for a stroll thru the forest, which looked very similar to the one in Kirindi.
His English was very good,and we had a good chat about Madagascar’s future and current situation. We agreed on a lot of issues about Madagascar. An amazing man, who is the mayor of the next village south. He runs an English school for local kids in the evening, free classes of course. I have the deepest respect for him and people like him. Caring for the country and its people for a brighter future. I asked him to go to the area, where the baobab trees are standing, for sunset photos. The two baobab trees were surrounded by forest. I couldn’t take the photos I hoped for.
I sat next to him, as he explained, that these two trees are the last of their kind in Madagascar and in the world. The seeds are only fertile when digested by bats. The main food source for those bats was removed and cleared for agricultural reasons over time. Without their staple diet, the bats moved on and left this species of baobab tree to extinction. Imagine looking at two towering giants, knowing,that once they are gone, there will be no more. There used to be 4 trees here, but two of them fell victim to cyclones over the last few years. A sad, sad thought.
Back at camp, Ninah and Odilon were busy cooking, and it smelled delish. Ninah gave me a sad happy smile, but wouldn’t tell what troubled her. There’s always been an issue from home in Miandrivazo, whether it is the cheating husband, the baby had malaria, or just generally money, money, money. Shame to see her not happy. I de-dusted under a cooling shower and joined Ninah and Odilon for dinner – grilled zebu,vegetables and sweet potato. Yumm.
Good soul, Ninah was busy rolling barrak again and poured some pineapple infused rum. Not long after the infusion of alcohol and barrak, Odilon spoke for himself and Ninah, that the reason they weren’t their happy self at times, is the fact of knowing that this magical mystery tour will come to an end very soon. I will always be remembered and they are hoping for my return some day. I was deeply touched and knew we had a very strong bond. We took a few photos, a reminder of a great night and a fantastic journey.
We were supposed to stay two nights, but I was asked to leave for Tana tomorrow, so we could have a great time in Tana. Plenty of food, rum, barrak and happiness. They know I don’t like Tana and prefer camping out bush at any time, but that doesn’t sound too bad. And we had a few things to organise. Getting eaten alive by mozzies, Ninah disappeared in her tent and we heard her snoring shortly after. I finished my drink and sat outside my tent for a while star gazing.
I woke up early to a strange sound coming from the trees around me. Sifaka Lemurs were having breakfast, jumping from tree to tree. How cool is that? Ninah was up already firing up the portable charcoal burner and shortly after coffee was served. Creamy, strong, great coffee. Ninah coffee.
And this is how the circle closes again. Camping, great food,drinks, barrak, lemurs and baobabs. But most importantly, great company, just like how this magical mystery tour started.
Guide Gabriel came over, as we were supposed to go for a walk around the National Park. He understood our change of plan and joined us for breakfast. A few kids from the surrounded village came over too, really cool. It was time to pack up and get going, as it’s another long drive.
Gabriel was playing ‘botcher’ with a few others. A very popular game on this island, I noticed. I exchanged email addresses and farewell Gabriel and the rest of this very friendly and happy community.