Madagascar (3): A pumpkin sun in a blue sky

Chemistry is everywhere. If you’ve been to enough places, you will certainly agree that sex tourism is nothing surprising and it is present in many, many regions, not only in Thailand. How come I was still surprised about it in Madagascar? Maybe because in my dreams it was a pure, virgin (what an irony) island for real explorers and what I’ve seen in Nosy Be couldn’t be further from that image. Again old European men with pretty, young, local ladies speaking fluent Italian or French whispering in a sexy voice: ciao bello ,tu sei pronto per il vero divertimento? They didn’t look eighteen to me. I wasn’t ready to experience that. During our two-week trip we’ve seen an endless number or mixed couples. Usually I’m super fine with that (I’ve been myself in a kind of mixed relationship for the last couple of years), but in Madagascar it just didn’t feel right. Anyway, no choice, I had to come to terms with that and focus on what the island had to offer. And it was a lot!

NOSY BE

Nosy Be is an island within the island with its own, small microcosmos, very different to whatever we experienced in a mainland Madagascar. It is connected to Italy (Milan and Rome) and France (Marseille and Paris) with a direct flight and you can really feel that. It’s so much more developed and tourism infrastructure is much more advanced. To me it had a touch of Zanzibar, even for Andreas it was a bit confusing, he kept referring to Hell-ville (the capital city of Nosy be) as Stone Town. Nosy Be is a one-stop-shop destination for all tourists, who come for few hours with a cruise liner, or all-inclusive vacationists, who don’t really bother about a real Madagascar. Nosy Be has it all: lemurs, chameleons, beaches, Cosmopolitans with an umbrella — all necessary I-will-impress-you-on-facebook accessories. I’m surprised they didn’t replant there the 800 years old baobab yet to really have it all.

Although the island has that fake touch, it can be still quite pleasant and memorable to be there. We decided to visit Lemuria Land, one of a top tourist attraction. I thought it would be an awful trap, but actually it was pretty informative and enjoyable. The contact with animals is super direct and intimate, sometimes too intimate, as I discovered holding a chameleon. During our previous travels within the country, we were specifically told, that we shouldn’t have touched chameleons. Curling the tail was an exception. We were asked to hold it on a stick as the safest way to handle them. It wasn’t that way in Nosy Be. In Nosy Be I was encouraged to hold it on my hand and believe me, my chameleon didn’t like it! The minute it was sitting on my forearm, it decided to attack my nose! Yes, my nose was bitten by chameleon and yes, I started bleeding! Ouch, it was painful! The tour guide (obligatory even there) was in shock, pale and really scared about the consequences. Nothing happened to him as I turned a blind eye on the whole incident, treating that as a funny anecdote, however I am sure he will practise more cautious next time. We gave up on a chameleon and took tons of photos with lemurs instead.

CHAMELEON MON AMOUR

Somehow in this developed island we still managed to do things off the beaten track. And we did them… by accident. One day we decided to visit Mont Passot — the highest mountain, which is surrounded by superb small lakes —  just 329 meters, a piece of cake I thought. We took off on a motorbike to pay a quick visit. After a short distance, it wasn’t on a motorbike anymore, as the road was impassable and we had to walk. The panorama was exceptional indeed, but it wasn’t just a recreational walk, we ended up in a real bush, with me having almost a panic attack. We had to slide through a slippery terrain and some unidentified plant gave me a rush all over my body, with that burning like hell sensation, which I thought would put me straight into a grave. How nice. We survived somehow that walk with no loss of lives, however I still try to figure it out how it all turned so dramatic. Funny thing is that the view of the lake itself wasn’t the most rewarding thing about that trip, instead it was a small, wild chameleon we came across while getting there. It was just in front of us, sunbathing happily, mind-blowing in colours and totally free. For me that unexpected discovery was one of the happiest moments.

NOSY IRANJA

We didn’t intend to spend so much time in Nosy Be. Andreas was about to go back home and I was about to go back to Antananarivo to fly to see the baobabs in the West. However all our plans were about to change a lot, when Air Madagascar went on strike. Both of us were stranded in Nosy Be, no matter whether we liked it or not. To make the most out of that situation, we enrolled on a day trip to a nearby island. And boy, it was a good choice! Nosy Iranja is a dream come true destination with the most amazing sand dunes and the crystal clear water. No words can describe that, just take a look at the photos and go there, if you ever have a chance!

When I heard about the strike I wasn’t worried too much yet. We were still having a good time. I was nursing Baileys while swinging on a hammock and swimming in a beautiful infinity pool. However, all good things come to an end. There was no chance for Air Madagascar to start flying again, so I had to come back to the capital by road… And that was nasty. Almost 20h journey was totally exhausting, but at least got me back on time. I haven’t seen baobabs because of the strike and I’m dreaming to come back to Madagascar to see them. Hopefully one day. It’s very sad, how unreliable Air Madagascar is, screwing people’s holidays all around the world.

Madagascar is an exceptional place, but the truth is: you can prepare for this trip as much as you want, but at the end… it’s all about the luck. If you have it — it will be a trip of your lifetime, however if you don’t have it — it will be a huge disappointment. Nevertheless, I still encourage you to go, the place is worth taking the risk! Bon chic, bon voyage.

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