For our last morning in Manompana we planned to get up at 4am, pack, have a nice last breakfast at our terrace with Tchitcho (and bread with litchis jam). In fact we woke up at 4.45am and it was not the rooster but the rain falling on our hut that woke us up. Tchitcho packed in 5min and jumped into the jeep waiting for him outside. On our side we packed and went to our meeting with one hour and a half delay. Good for us the captain was still waiting for us...
We were not yet out of Manompana bay that Mira was already sea sick: it will be 2hours of nightmare for her to join the island of St Marie. There we stayed 5 days on a small piece of land, Nosy Natto. This small island was a paradise few years ago. We were afraid to go there and our first feeling when we arrived in the main city of St Marie was that we went to the wrong place: after 3 weeks in Manompana we were not prepared to face a tourist place – the guys were too pushy, the taxi men too persistent. But in fact we quickly got charmed by the island: the natural swimming pool with deep green-blue water, natural aquarium with rainbow colored fishes, the small tiny quiet villages, the rice fields, the litchis, mangos and other fruit trees. We had nice time on this tiny island and didn’t meet so many vazahas (white people) on the muddy path or on the white sandy beach at the coast.
Leaving Nosy Natto and St Marie was not easy. It was tricky to find a boat to reach the north side of Mada. But after a few days we finally managed to get on board of a small ship for 20 hours cruise (see our message on this topic).
From St Marie we had to travel almost a week to achieve Ankify on the North West coast of Mada. There we were supposed to study the specific animals and plants of the tropical forest. It was not an easy travel; it was quite tiring but very interesting: first we had to navigate on the Indian ocean for 20 hours, and then we had a hard day of walk under the tropical weather – 30km carrying all our luggage and 4 days by taxi brousse; crossing rivers by pirogue or by foot on a devastated bridge or even on a wooden raft with our taxi brousse on it, doing some times by car 40 km in 5 hours and the following day 70km in one hour; being 11 people in a peugeot 205 – 6 at the back and 5 in front: the driver was almost sitting outside the car; 28 people in a Peugeot 404 pick-up (Nina and the kids were in front with 2 other people and Damien was smashed at the back with other 22 people). Don’t worry – we were not going so fast and we were able to enjoy the landscape. The good thing for Damien is that the cyclone of 2006 destroyed several bridges on the way and a couple of time we had to get out of the car to stretch our legs but also to cross the small rivers by foot on plank of wood, by pirogue or on a raft for the larger ones.
There will be no lemurs exploiration. We were supposed to work for a guy in Ankify but when Damien managed to talk with him he informed us he changed his plans. He had a terrible tourist season and decided to go on holiday until mid Dec. So there will be no way for us to work for him. We met him a few days later and it was in fact better like that – it would have not been possible to work with such guy (it is strange that even for the nicest cause you can find disgusting people).