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Day 14 - Ifaty to Tana

MADAGASCAR | Friday, 14 May 2010 | Views [569]

Oh no, where has the time gone! It’s my last day in Madagascar, and I truly am sad to see this adventure end.

Where did I break off last?

The morning in Ifaty was perfect. We headed out on a snorkelling trip on one of the pirogue boats owned by two brothers Tan-tan and Stephen (15,000Ar). The area is a protected marine park and the reef, the 3rd largest in the world. There is a 2000Ar fee which is paid directly to the marine guard who paddles around in the lagoon watching over the day’s activities. Without a doubt, he must have one of the best jobs in the world.


Our boat was big and sturdy so it was ok for me to bring my camera J. The day was beautiful, the water crystal clear, and I now have a perfect tan to boot. It was my first time snorkelling and I was a little apprehensive when we first jumped in. Maybe it’s just me, but isn’t it a little odd being able to breathe with your head under water? “Just calm down Tran... breathe...1...2...3...” I was well rewarded when I finally let go of the boat and followed my companions into the open sea. Too bad my camera isn’t waterproof because words just can’t describe how amazing the reef was. Giant coral formations that looked like roses, big black urchins, fish of all shapes, sizes and colours. I even caught a couple of brightly adorned parrot-fish nibbling at the coral.  

We set sail for shore at 10.30am. It’s quite a skill but the locals can tell the time just by looking at the sun to at least 5-10mins of the actual time (in my and Arno’s experiences).

The brothers are normally fishermen but told us that when they first started, fishing was the most interesting job around, but now due to declining fish numbers accompanied by more and more fishermen in the area, they would much rather work with tourists and take every opportunity for guide work.

On return we were welcomed by the most amazing grilled lobster and fish stew lunch on the beach, prepared by friends of our guides. We’d passed the lobsters for sale in the morning which the fisherman had literally just brought off the boat, and Tan-tan offered to prepare the catch. It was amongst the best meals of my life.. and for those who know me, food is my life!


We had to hurry to catch a taxi brousse to Tulear in time for our departure to Tana. But being in Madagascar we were both stranded and saved by the mora-mora (“slow and calm”) time of the island. We waited almost two hours for a taxi-brousse to pass and still made our ride in Tulear two and a half hours late. Imagine a place like New York running like this.

The ride back was nothing special. The first couple of hours we had to stop every few kilometers, disembark, fill the radiator, wait for the engine to cool and explode in a burst of steam, refill the radiator again and then hop back on. Our van was quite new though and the seats much more comfy than my initial taxi brousse experience to Antsirabe.

Now, I’m back in Tana. Another day through the markets, some more funky food, a cab ride where the driver stopped to buy exactly one litre of petrol and watching as the attendant dispensed exactly one litre by a regular hand pump. This place is fun. I know I’m going to miss it already. Some places you leave ready to go on to the next adventure, but here I feel there is still so much to see and do. Two weeks, not enough... but there’s always next time! And then I’ll be armed with French!



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