Wednesday, September 8, 2010
Well my friends, here we are.. Madagascar.. Antananarivo to be exact. For those who do not know this is the capital of this lovely island nation. The trip here as usual, is no piece of baklava.
With Mr. Peabody’s assistance again, young William will take you through the past several days.
First we awoke in the morning for our early morning Safari in teh Mara which had us staring down giraffe who were peaking over the ridge of the trees.. then it was taking an extra long wide circle walk to make sure we did not spook the elephant by being upwind of him.. finally the beautiful sunrise with our Masai guides leading the way and nothing was amiss. But as I have said before .. TIA.
So what happens.. well, James “the man” our driver had been slowly helping every disabled land rover on the way back from the JK Mara camp. This included identifying a broken leaf spring for one driver and picking up a local school girl and giving her a ride from another broken axel’ed land rover. Somehow over all the bumps, washboard and potholes, we finally get onto the good smooth pavement…. only to have us blow our right rear tire. So out on the pavement we go putting rocks out in the road to get the insane Kenyan drivers to actually move over. James must have been practicing at indy becuase I think he had the tired changed in under 15 minutes which to my mind is no small feat give the heat, the angle of the car and the enormous weight of the vehicle and wheel.
Back on the road I arrive at Kenya Comfort Hotel in Nairobi safe and sound. So off on a quest for a souvinerI go.. I really wanted a Massai spear as it was the most unique attribute of the trip that I wanted to take home. Unfortunately everyone out on safari wanted $100-$200 USD for them which I was not going to pay. so since the city market was just two blocks from my hotel I decided to go and try my barganinig skills at a local shop. WEll again they wanted $150.. I managed to actually get them down to $25.. so I bought the dang thing. Now I have to figure out how to get it home. I knew that the Kenya post office would ship to the US for about $25 US so I had to figure out how to pack the item.
In the morning I managed to convince the local carpet dealer to give me the cardboard tube his carpet was rolled in.. but then I had to cut the thing so I went to the hardward store and bought a hacksaw blade and I was in business. After getting everything cut, packed and in the mail I was walking home and of course .. just cause I was in a really good mood.. decided to step on a crack and completely ROLL my right ankle.. a really good sprain. So while I’m on the ground in pain a respectable looking man in a suite came to help me up and claimed to be a teacher.. dang it all if it didn’t all turn out to be a scam to try and get me to give him money.. really.. I’m on the ground .. hurt.. and he’s gonna hustle me.. I am SO done with nairobi.. if I never come back it will be too soon.
Well I finally make it to the airport.. my leg is feeling better and I get on the plane to Tana. While on the plane I sit next to the Anglican Bishop for the southern half of Madagascar. We have a great conversation and he invites me to stay at his place in a couple of days when we reach his location in Tuliar in the south. So at the airport, His holiness todd 😛 helps me through customs and points out a place for me to wait for Pat at the airport. In the meantime I meet Sergi the Barcelona Air Traffic Controller who is on a layover and he hangs with me to have a beer and wait for pat so we can all share a taxi downtown.
Finally.. I’m at the hotel Sakamanga in Tana and it is a nice place. But Pat is hungry and the only place open in this city at 11:30pm is 800m up the street that we should not walk in teh dark as we WILL get robbed. So finally we go to get some food and lo and behold. its a hooker joint. so while we fend off not so subtle advances we eat some really good kababs and I have a beer and some fries. Finally we make it to bed!
The next day we decide to just wander aimlessley the streets of Tana and I truly enjoy the place. The hills and friendly people and low hassel of the street vendors is a refreshing departure from nasty Nairobi. I buy Joey and Katelyn a little something, get my chocolate fix in by the Hotel Cobert around the corner from the Presidents Office and then relax in the sun with a fresh orange juice. Back at the hotel again, Pat and I plan out some thoughts for our tour and end up getting connected with Albert from GAM travel he helps us out connecting us with a driver and car for the next 9 days and then a tour into the Tsingy’s for the last 4 days.. doing tana Costa Rica style ala Neel so I’m feeling good!.
Finally we close the night out with Wassim who Pat met in Paris on the plane who is a Lebaneese guy who is doing IT work in Tana. He takes us out for a fantasitc meal with his girlfriend and I”m feeling on top of the world. Tomorrow morning we embark on our southern tour of Ramananfana, Andrigata, I’lasola and Tulier.