We arrived in Nosy Be in the late afternoon of 11/7. The anchorage was beautiful and we were surprised at how many other cruising sail boats there were (probably around 6). We talked with an American boat and learned that the small ‘yacht club’ at the anchorage was having a pig roast that evening. There’s not many things I like more than a good meat roast so I was pretty excited to hear that news. We all got showered up and headed to shore.
The ‘yacht club’ is actually a really cool outdoor bar with a big porch where they had multiple people play live music throughout the night. We met lots of cool people, had some amazing food, and enjoyed some much needed social time with other sailors.
Later that night we went in to town to explore a little bit. The main strip of Madirokely is exactly like you would expect third world Africa; dirt roads, people living in shacks, no street lights, little stalls on the side of the road serving food, small dark bars crammed with people smoking and watching soccer. Then at the end of the street you come to a gate, and once you walk to the other side of that gate you’re in a whole different world. The streets are paved, everything is nice and brightly lit, and there are white people everywhere. This is also the first place that we saw blatent signs of sex tourism. I didn’t know this prior to coming to Madagascar, but it is pretty well known, especially to the French, as a place to come and get a pretty, young female companionship for a very reasonable price. We went to a popular bar that had live music on stage and was very lively inside. 80% of the customers were older white guys with young Malagasy girls. Outside the bar there were another 50 or so girls, most dressed in cocktail dresses, waiting for some companionship. It was an interesting scene but not my preferred drinking atmosphere so I went back to the boat after a beer.
The next morning we all went back in to town, had some food, and then rented motorbikes and a four-wheeler to go explore the island.
We were driving around with no destination and eventually we ended up at this little cove with a huge Banyan tree that is sacred to the dominant tribe in northern Madagascar (Sakalava). Everyone else wanted to keep cruising but Kady and I decided to check it out. The tree was really cool, but what we really wanted to see were lemurs. Our guide told us we probably wouldn’t see any because it’s mango season and they are off in another part of the island eating mangos. Just as we were about to exit the forrest she stopped and started making these strange calls, “keee keee, keee keee”. All of the sudden two lemur families came bounding out of the forrest. They were Black Lemurs, the females are reddish brown and the males are black, and they were really curious though still pretty cautious around us. They hung around for about 15 minutes while we fed them some bananas.
Later that night we met up with Conny for dinner. When he got back to his boat afterwards someone had come aboard and stolen everything of value from his cockpit lockers. He had everything else locked up, so they couldn’t get inside the boat, but they still made off with his spearguns, snorkeling equipment, and a bunch of lines. This was our second experience with theft in our short time in Madagascar and it was really disheartening. Everyone here has been extremely friendly and it’s a beautiful country but this definitely dampened the mood a bit.
The next day Kady and I hired a guide to explore the Lokobe nature preserve. He picked us up at our hotel and drove us out to the edge of the preserve. From there we got in to a canoe with him and two other locals and started what turned out to be a very long paddle across the bay to the heart of Lokobe. After about 30 minutes of paddling we arrived at a small village called Ampasipohy. This is the only place you can access the park from and also where Jean, our guide, was born and raised.
After we caught our breath from the paddle we ventured in to the jungle with Jean. The vegetation was super thick, as were the mosquitoes, but it was teeming with wildlife and Jean was an expert spotter. We spotted multiple types of lemurs, giant boas, leaf tailed geckos, green chameleons, lots of frogs, and all sorts of cool trees.
Both of our stomachs were feeling pretty squeamish from the previous nights dinner (we tried some ground cassava leaf and it wasn’t sitting so well), but after the hike our guides laid out a huge spread and we dug in.
It was delicious but by the time we made it back to the hotel we both had full blown skitters (I’ve been reading Grapes of Wrath and that’s what they call diarrhea, I like the term). I also had a fever and ended up in bed sleeping for the next 24 hours.
The following night, once I’d returned to life, we met up with everyone else and had a birthday dinner for Natalia’s 30th. The day after that we did some more grocery shopping and then set sail south for Nosy Lava.