Day 13: the weekend at last

Evening all! I think I need to start blogging more often, it’s been at least a week since my last update and too much has happened to put in one post. So I may break this one into a few instalments.

I’ll start off with last weekend. After a hard week’s work (environmental modelling can be painful work!), we ventured further south than the Sarodrano day-trip of the previous weekend, to a town called Sainte Augustine. It is the furthest south the coastal road goes before it is met by a monster of a river estuary:

Approaching an “end of the world”

Sainte Augustine, Madagascar

The trip over was immense fun. Zo and I rode at the back of the jeep for much of the way, to the backdrop of the ocean to our right and the open desert and hills to our left. Cliffs would appear out of nowhere, not great for vertigo sufferers such as myself but a hell of a ride! Climbing to the hilltop from where the above photo was taken, we passed a boy riding up on his bicycle. Anyone who can do that every day can surely tackle the Tour de France. Zo and I clambered back to the seats and along came the boy with his bike at the back. Great being a Good Samaritan!

We approached the town of Sainte Augustine, Zo once again proving his worth by occasionally leaping off the jeep in search of much-needed directions. We were after a very specific hotel (not that there were any in sight anyway). Lonely Planet provides an exclusive list of just nine hotels in Madagascar they refer to as the ends of the world:

Isolation, natural beauty, the sea, and a distant horizon, forming a distant place where the world appears to stop, and the spirit deepens.

Longamamy is one of them. Perched along the banks of the Onilahy River estuary, we were given a pair of bungalows for 18,000Ar (a fiver) each. Complete with candles, a rock to “lock” the front door and of course mosquito coils. And the French owner (he’s been here for 28 years now) was overjoyed at seeing his hotel feature as a highlight in Lonely Planet!

At his Lonely Planet shout out: “Oui oui, this is errrrrrrrrrr very nice to see!”

The sign says “no pooing on the beach”. So they poo’d on the sign!

A quick beach walk by sunset turned into a bit of a team show for the camera, but it wasn’t long before the label end of the world really gained meaning. To the south of us was nothing but the Antarctic, and around us no one but a lone fisherman cleaning his pirogue for tomorrow’s open ocean outing.

Moves for the camera

An End of the World…

Lonely Planet also recommends the fish supper here. Fresh from the day’s catch, the menu was crab, shrimp, or prawns, with rice and beans. Oddly enough, when the Malagasy serve beans on rice, it literally comes as a plate of baked beans on rice. And it tastes really really good! (maybe it’s just a tasty reminder of home?). The seafood was equally appetising, and made going to straight to sleep (it was only 8.30pm) easy, despite the crickets in acapella mode.

Day 15 to come…

Blog word-count: 2,500
Disso word-count: 0 (one month until deadline!)

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