October 30, 2016
We were doing something different today, a boat trip to Anakao for a two-night stay at the beach. We were supposed to cut our baggage down to “an overnight bag”, which was easy for us because we didn’t have much baggage in the first place. And sandals were the preferred footwear because we would have to wade from the boat to the beach.
So breakfast at 8 am, followed by a quick bus ride to the Safari Veza boat launch. The tide was quite far out so in order to get to the boat we were taken out there by zebu carts, three or four people to a cart. A very interesting ride with Rachel, Wendy, and the two of us all in one cart. Our driver was told “muramura”, which means “slowly”, and our two zebus seemed to have a mind of their own, but we did get to the boat. Although most of the other carts passed ours on the way!
Our boat was a speedboat which could carry about 20 passengers, and the trip took over an hour to reach the fishing village of Anakao. During the trip we passed a lot of small boats with square sails, as seen all around this part of the Indian Ocean, and there were also canoe-like boats from which men were diving, perhaps for lobsters or shellfish. And at the other end we did have to wade to the beach, but the water was warm and not even knee-deep.
Our hotel, Safari Veza, was located next-door to the village but had its own private beach above the water-line. The bungalows were very lovely, with a shower and toilet area apart from the sink. There was no running water, so instead we had three buckets of water to use. And instead of glass windows there were wooden shutters which we could lock from inside while away, otherwise we left them open. In the evening we could pull fabric curtains across them for privacy.
Shortly after we arrived we had lunch, very nice omelette sandwiches on cassava bread, and then had the rest of the day to ourselves. To start with we used up half our water allocation to do laundry; there was a lot of dust in our clothes from all the driving, but they dried very quickly after we hung them up in the warm breeze.
The view was very spectacular looking across to the low island of Nosy Ve. We could watch the fishing boats going by but other than them there was very little activity on this part of the ocean. In the late afternoon we went for a walk along the beach, looking at shell fragments, watching the crabs, and wading in the warm water.
Dinner tonight was at 7:30 pm, starting with a prawn salad which unfortunately had beetroot in it. Who would have guessed? So Hery got a new salad for Rosemary, sans beetroot. The main course was tuna with roasted vegetables. The tuna was really tasty and was very fresh, having been caught today. And finally dessert was a chocolate roll.
October 31, 2016
We’d left some of our shutters open last night so that outside air could circulate through the bungalow. As a result we woke up when it got light outside, sometime before 6 am. Paul got up early to go birding, out towards the back of the property. Surprisingly the commonest bird was the Littoral Rock Thrush, of which we had seen one in her nest next to the bar yesterday afternoon. Meanwhile Rosemary was kept awake by birds walking on the roof, so she got up and sat outside on the porch, enjoying the view and the quiet.
Breakfast was at 8 am this morning. Some of the others were going out to the island offshore, Nosy Ve, to snorkel around the reef, but we didn’t want to snorkel and we didn’t want to sit on the island for several hours. So after breakfast we walked the short distance along the beach to the small open-air market. One of the stalls had cut-work curtains which had Malagasy designs on them, and Rosemary bought a long curtain with a baobab and two tortoises and also a shawl which had lemurs cut out on one edge. After some bargaining they settled on 95,000 ariary for both pieces, which amounted to only about $40 CDN. She gave us them and we walked back to the bungalow to get the money to pay for them.
Once done with that we then walked along the beach past the village. It was still early in the morning so the villagers were going about their business. Fishing was the main activity but we also saw a freight catamaran picking up sacks of produce from the village to be sold elsewhere. The children were having a great time playing in the water, most of them just splashing around. But a couple of the boys had replicas of the boats used by the adults and they were sailing them, practicing with the waves and winds.
We had been told horror stories of people who went to the beach and were swarmed by kids demanding “cadeau”. But there was none of that. A couple of people came to offer us goods or services, but when we said no they didn’t persist. And the kids were too busy playing.
After lunch we went back to the bungalow to stay out of the sun. Paul felt a bit sick, maybe from dehydration or heat stroke, so we rested for the remainder of the afternoon.
Dinner was not until 7:30 pm, but at 6:30 pm we had a concert. There were two guys singing, one playing the guitar and the other one a drum. It was a nice way to finish off this part of our holiday. Dinner was also good but neither of us ate all of the food.
Our bed had a complete frame of mosquito netting over it, and last night Rosemary had noticed a big spider on top of it, on her side. But we poked it with a stick and jiggled it and it didn’t move, so we decided it was dead. We just left it there because it was too hard to climb up and remove it.
So, tonight the spider was gone. Hmm, we thought, maybe the staff took it away when they made the bed? But no, there it was running along the top of the frame! This clearly couldn’t be allowed to continue. So Paul had to knock it down onto the floor and whack it with a sandal.
Next: Return to Tana