We've now spent one and a half months in Madagascar but it really has not been enough. Even though it is one of the poorest countries in the world, we really liked it and especially the people very much.
When you are sailing along the coast during the night you hardly see any lights, everything is dark. A lot of people actually live on the coast but there is no electricity and of course now water pipes with running drinking water. But most of the villages have at least a well with drinking water. If you talk about a village here it means a bunch of houses made of wood or sometimes corrugated iron. The people live very simply. We have spent some time next to Nosy Hara on the mainland and also beached the boat there, to do some cleaning. Guillome, a french guy who lives there with his family and takes care of visiting yachts, helped us with everything and we made two trips to Diego Suarez, the main town in this area, with him. So if you need a short stop over and want to get some fresh vegetable and fruits it is the place to go.
On Thursdays there is the big weekly market close by, where people come from near and far to sell their goods and buy things they do not have. They mainly sell small dried fish, fresh meat from Cebu cattle's, living chickens transported with their bikes, and fresh bananas, tomatoes, eggplants, different kinds of potatoes as well as rice and grains. You can also buy cloth, mostly second hand because hardly anybody has the means to get new things. Most of the people come on foot or with wooden carts pulled by cattle. There are not a lot of cars around, except small buses and some small trucks to transport goods. There is some evening entertainment in form of live music and some kind of fighting sport, where especially the younger people like to go to.
Further in the south, in Baly Bay, we visited another village after some people in their outrigger canoes offered us coconuts and mangoes in exchange for things they need. They were happy to get anything from us, especially fishing lines, baits and cloth. In the afternoon we went to see the village and were met by an older man, presumably the head of the village, with good French. He was proud to show us the local Baobab tree as well as the drinking water well and the school. We brought some gifts for the 45 children, because they can hardly afford things like pencils or paper. Nevertheless they have two big blackboards and lots of tables and benches for the children. So they were very happy to get some support from us.
In the evening, after looking at the weather forecast with Tom's parents on their catamaran Felix, we decided to leave towards South Africa right away. It looks as though we will have good winds for the next few days and should be able to sail the first 600 miles towards Mozambique. Most of the other sailing yachts which already left towards South Africa did not have good or any winds for most of the time. So we hope for the best and are on our way towards South Africa at the moment. Always checking the weather on our way...
All other blogs and pictures about Madagascar and South Africa will be posted once we have fast internet connection again.