We discovered this morning that last night’s stomping party was for a family in the village next door to our hotel who had twins. Apparently a birth celebration is common. Local rum is consumed. Apparently drinking as a parent is universal. It did shut down around 10 ish. Also a sign of parenthood, early nights.
Breakfast at the Relais du Kirindy was limited but good. Eggs to order and a fruit plate. Of course a ton of breads, that seems mandatory.
After breakfast we headed over to the National Park to look for more lemurs. And Fossa. Fossa are the natural predator of lemurs. And lizards and garbage. They are like raccoons or black bears in that way. Whatever fits in their mouth is good to eat. Even tourists. As we arrived in the park there is a research area which has a kitchen and lodging area. As such there are two Fossa that hang out and look for human leftovers. You know, chicken bones, leftover Zebu bones. Great for us as we really wanted to see a Fossa. We’d seen many lemurs but had yet to see a Fossa. We saw two. And older one who sleeps a lot and a younger more aggressive one.
The older one asleep in the shade (he looks almost like a hyena)
And the younger one. Kinda cat like, sorta dog like and a little otter thrown in for fun. He was bigger than we expected.
Nice mini Mohawk. Check out those claws.
The younger one started to make a bit of a move to taste Kris. She was facing away from him and listening to our guide. As the young fossa was starting to stalk Kris, our guide told her to turn around. Fossa then stopped because they know the guides won’t let the fossa taste the tourists. It’s bad for business you know.
The fossa is a part of the mongoose family. They are about 50 pounds and around as big as a medium size dog.
On our way into the park we got lucky and saw a very hard to see Narrow Stripe Mongoose. Miffy our driver has only ever seen it once before and our guide (whom we showed the photo to identify) was very excited for us to have seen one.
Crappy iPhone shots. Had we known Dave would have pulled out the big lenses. Oh well, it looked like a squirrel.
We hiked for about 2 hours on a nice flat sandy trail system. We saw no more fossa. There are only 40 fossa in the 12 000 hectare park and are mostly nocturnal, but we did see more lemurs.
The first lemurs we saw were the nocturnal Sportive. They hide for the day in tree holes. The guides know where to look. They have huge eyes and huge ears. Makes sense since they hunt insects at night.
We also saw some more Verroux Sifaka. They were very high up in trees and we are glad we’d seen them closer up before at other parks. Still very cool to see them and when they leap from tree to tree it is quite a show.
On our walk there was one Baobob with an interesting out growth. Kris was either excited or fearful. It will eventually grow into a large branch or a second trunk.
We returned to the Relais to grab our suitcases and check out. All over Madagascar there are totems. This one had a lemur on top. We had to stop and snag a quick photo.
We drove on those tough roads for about an hour and a half to reach the Baobob Amoureux. It’s a very very old tree that split early into two branches and then wove itself together.
We bought a carving there from the local craftsman and they were also selling Baobob fruit. They are about the size of coconuts but soft inside like guava.
We also took a couple shots of the retreating watering holes. Water lilys and Baobab make for an interesting combo.
Very shortly thereafter we had to drive back via the Baobob Alley. Most tourists visit at sunrise or sunset so we had the place to ourselves. We had great light and nobody there.
This is the Taxi Brousse – the local version of Uber. They are always full of cargo and people. Yes that compact pickup frame is really that bent. The bed is full of people of course. Cargo goes on the roof rack. Silly us we thought cargo beds were for cargo. Check out that rear tire, overloaded much?
Before we checked into our hotel in Morondava we had to do a couple errands. First was find a bank machine. We have run out of cash and needed more. Our last two villages didn’t have a bank. Period. No wonder it is primarily a cash society. Our very nice Soleil de Tsingy lodge was cash only for extras. They had tried Visa but apparently the signal was too weak. We weren’t expecting that and it drained us of cash more than we felt comfortable with. So on our way in we stopped and a Bank of Madagascar and drained its ATM of it’s cash. It really does feel weird to have a stack of 10 000 MGA bills several inches high and it’s only couple hundred CAD. We also wanted to recharge our data plan. We had chosen Orange (big Euro mobile provider here) which has kiosks everywhere. Mobile companies are also getting into micro cash transactions in a big way too. You basically load your phone account with cash like a prepaid debit card and small merchants will get paid via text from you. I say this because I wanted to e-recharge my account but the kiosk girl didn’t understand and gave me 110 000 MGA worth of Orange Money. Because I’d never set up my account I hadn’t created a PIN. So now I have money on my phone but no way to pay anybody (including Orange themselves for a data plan). Oops. There was an Orange store in town but it was closed till 230. Some stores do a siesta type thing from 12-230. So we checked into our hotel, had lunch and Dave went back with Miffy to get it sorted. Miffy didn’t really understand what we needed and between his Malagasy to English skills, Dave’s bad French and the Orange Tech in store we got it fixed. I had to create a PIN but the Orange Tech had to initiate a reset, ie a “forgot password” type of process. Now Dave can pay in Orange Money. Except we spent it all on our data plan as we had originally intended. Fun with new country processes. We have to say it was much better than our experience in Peru a few years ago. We’ve slowly learned the way prepaid mobile is done in this type of country. And since we bought a cheap Android phone in Ecuador two years ago it’s been much easier. You have to text and you can’t do that from the devices I’ve bought in the past. Cheap phones solve the text problem and then you can share the data via a wifi hot spot you create via the phone.
Once that was done, we finally had time to relax by the pool. Cote du Pallisandre is a major upgrade over the Chez Maggie where we stayed a few days ago.
Our bungalow patio.
The pool area.
The restaurant by the pool.
The soft sand beach overlooking the Mozambique Channel.
Our peekaboo beach view. Amazing place.
Just before we heading back to the bungalow to shower and clean up we watched an amazing sunset. Magical.
Tomorrow we head up river to meet some Village Elders. Should be an interesting experience.