Sunday, September 19, 2010
Today I headed to the beach. I’m abuzz with anticipation to see what passes for a resort town in Madagascar. In order to get there we need a high clearance vehicle because .. Surprise…the roads ar bad .. Whoda thunk it! So since I am trying to scheme up a dive and want to make sure I make it we are on the road again at 6am..what IS it with this early morning stuff!
Anyway Pat and his pet tape worm Junior need something to eat before we get on the road so we ask our French speaking driver if we can stop for a baguette..who knows if he understood me! Well he most certainly did and took us to the BEST french pastry shop I have been into in years.. This place would knock your socks off. So after getting a couple of sweet pastries such as my chocolate chip marscapone creation and a sugar coated sweet bun, were on our way.
Well the road is bad but this time not so much craters, ravines and potholes, but rather and early Daytona 500 experience whizzing along 6-10″ of sand without four wheel drive dodging zebu, people and chickens… I swear we were sideways one at about 45 MPH!
Then suddenly we turn left over what passes for grass and it looks like were going to drive over the dune.. But it turns out to be a gap in the sand and up to the Mangily Hotel & bungalow we arrive.
THIS is what I’m talking about. Thatched roofs, up on the dunes sweeping views of the MASSIVE waves crashing on the reef….wait.. Did I say massive waves? I’m supposed to dive, I’m getting a bad vibe here.
Well we check in and Aura couldn’t be more helpful and again, just like Costa Rica, Pat and I check into our romantic seaside bungalow as the gay couple .. LOL.. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that!)
It turns out that Jean Pierre, the owner of the dive shop down the beach did indeed get the message and was on his way over. It is all I can do to not laugh thinking of one of the opening scenes from the movie Along Came Polly when “Jean, the unofficial SCUBA King of St. Barts” arrives. Jean Pierre has the same heavy but friendly french accent and it his very relaxing.
However. Remember the waves? Yeah, he soon informs me we can’t get outside the reef today due to swell and visibility so the only place he can take me is in 3-8M of water on a reef that died from a bacteria infection 5 months ago but there are “buku poission” (many fish!). I admire his honesty but I’m here I’m diving no matter what. So Pat decides he’s going to join me and snorkel so off we go. With a boat full of a French family who’s daughter is a SCUBA instructor in Chicago and Stephan my dive master off we go.
It turns out I have a very pleasant dive. I can only imagine what this reef looked like when alive. The fish population is still fairly impressive and now I can say I’ve dived Madagascar!
After our dive Stephan tips us off to a little lunch place down the beach. So after dropping some stuff at the room we head back with Pat to have lunch. We have a leisurely the and a half hour lunch of two lobsters for me, three glasses of wine and a shot of the local lemon rum all for $12 USD!!!
After lunch while walking back we run into Jans whom we had met the previous day with his girlfriend Regula in I’Isalo. After some shooting the shit we find he’s going snorkeling the next day in a local dugout canoe and including beach side fresh fish lunch for $15, so we decide to join him for some more activity the next day. We go to arrange the tour and I even managed to get a THB beer per person included in the price.
Well when we reach the swank Dunes hotel that Jans (German by the way) and Regula (swiss) are staying at we like them so well we decide some beers are in order, then more, then more at our hotel at sunset, then dinner then more beers. Well it was about this time that I was on my way home and twisted the same ankle I twisted in Nairobi two weeks earlier. Thankfully for the beer I didn’t feel it as much as I should and I was able to hobble home.
Day 1 in Ifaty FAR exceeds expectations… Beautiful beaches, great food, good friends, ocean waves, yummy cocktails and sunshine..what more could a guy ask for …. Careful Gino!