Sunday, March 23, 2008

Day 43 – Easter

Happy Easter everyone! I miss you all, and wish I could be with you at Owl Creek.

Today we went down to the coast. It was a long descent, with lots of curves in the road. Floriel is an excellent driver but there is a dash of speedster in him, so he enjoyed cutting across curves, screeching tires, and making sharp changes in gears.

The countryside changes slowly from the pines of the high mountains to a lower but much more luxuriant vegetation of palms and bushes. They have a rather funny-looking palm here, in which the fronds grow on a plane, effectively creating the effect of a giant ladies fan. It is called the Tree of the Traveller, and is the symbol of the Malagache hospitality.

To get to the coast we left the route national at Brickaville (an old French sugar cane plantation) and took a bumpy dirt road to the little town of Ambila-Lemaitso. Before we could get there, however, we had to cross the Canal des Pangalanes, a very long coastal lagoon formed between the mainland and the barrier island where Ambila-Lemaitso is located. I had imagined some type of a ferry, but was not ready for the old barge that the locals use for crossing. It is basically an old pontoon, to which an offboard motor has been attached (a recent innovation, because up until last year they moved the pontoon with poles), and which is continuously bailed so it doesn’t sink. Floriel was a little hesitant, but finally gathered the courage and loaded our precious vehicle onto the barge. We have since baptized the car “Le Petit Brav” because it has taken us everywhere.

Ambila-Lemaitso is the dinkiest coastal resort town I have ever seen! In comparison Tecolutla (the sleepy little town where my parents took the family for a yearly vacation at the seaside) is the grand resort. We luckily secured a small bungalow for the night (the bottom of the barrel), and found a small restaurant for lunch and dinner (the cook was pretty good).

I spent the afternoon bathing in the Indian Ocean, which was a first for me (in India we couldn’t get in the sea because Mumbai bay is too dirty). This part of Madagascar is open coast, so the waves were huge. The jewel came at night, when a full moon reflected merrily on the ever changing seascape. Pretty!

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