Diego Suarez sits in a gigantic deep water harbor and gets its name from the Portuguese sailor who discovered it almost 500 years ago. It’s one of the main commercial harbors in Madagascar and is probably the biggest city in northern Madagascar. It has a main corridor with a couple bars and probably 10 restaurants. There were some Westerners around but it’s definitely not a tourist hub. It had a slight cosmopolitan but there were still plenty of reminders that we were in a small African city; random cows walking around, burned out buildings, and people walking around the streets with no shoes.
The day we arrived, Halloween, Kady and I checked in to a small hotel and we four all took turns in the shower. The lobby had a small bar and we met some other travelers and got recommendations for food and sites around town.
After everyone was cleaned up we headed out for dinner and were shocked at how cheap the taxis were. You can jump in a three-wheel tuk tuk and go anywhere in town for 500 Ariary per person (about $.15).
All fares are per person though and they will cram in as many people as possible. All four of us were crammed in to one and the the driver was still honking at other people along the way to see of they needed a ride.
We were also pleasantly surprised by the food; tasty Zebu steaks, the dominant cattle breed here, with a side of potatoes or rice for 10,000 Ariary ($3.00). And they were proper filets, not cheap cuts of meat.
The next day Kady and I ate some breakfast and then went exploring the local Sunday market. It was enormous and they sold pretty much everything you could imagine. Unfortunately my phone died so I didn’t get any pictures, but they had everything from fruits and livestock to kitchen utensils and house plants. I even found a live turkey, something you almost never see outside of the US, and almost bought it for $30. If we had a freezer on board we could have saved it for Thanksgiving, but we don’t so I decided to pass on the Turkey.
That evening we went out for steaks again and Kady and I stayed the night back on the boat. We felt pretty safe and decided to chain the dinghy to the boat with the engine on rather than pulling the engine in board. Bad idea. Natalia woke up at 2am and found that the chain, dinghy, and engine were all gone. Someone had stealthily rowed up to our boat, cut the chain, and took off with our only way to get to shore. In the morning Jesse hitched a ride with a local ferry to shore to search for it but no luck. Luckily Conny was sailing with us and arrived from Reunion later that afternoon. It was looking like we would be sharing his small dinghy for the rest of our Madagascar trip. This incident soured us on Diego Suarez and we sailed for Nose Hara, an island off the northwest tip of Madagascar, the next morning.