Friday, September 25, 2015

Seychelles to Comoros to Madagascar: An Epic Voyage

Hello people who read my blog! Sorry it’s been awhile since my last post. We left the Seychelles for Comoros, a small, extremely poor group of islands located near Madagascar. The passage was dreadful. Huge lumpy seas and quite a lot of wind made for an uncomfortable sail. By the time we arrived in Comoros, we were tired, the boat was a mess, and we were missing the entirety of our wooden slatted deck. After we lost our ‘patio’, Charlie the cat would crawl up to the window and gaze out worriedly at the void of empty space. My reaction was similar. While in Comoros, we would have to find wood for the deck, a facet after our water tap snapped off and food, in a country where we spoke only a small amount of French, and none of the local dialect. Most people spoke high school level French, no English, but mostly the local dialect.
Comoros was definitely not a destination for inexperienced travellers. To find the market, you had to weave through a maze of ally-ways and dead ends, eventually coming out on a steep hillside where women swathed in brightly coloured sarongs balanced tubs of fruit and rice on their heads and men displayed cinnamon and cloves at their small stalls. There was an abundance of carrots, cucumbers and lettuce, but not much in the way of fruit, except for bananas. Lots of bananas. Also available at the market, but only at some stalls, were tiny bottles of a pale golden liquid. It was ylang-ylang, a very special perfume. The flowers were grown and distilled into a florally, fruity perfume that to me, smelt like roses and pears, which sounds kinda weird, but actually smells amazing.
We absolutely loved Comoros. Besides the language difficulties, everyone was incredibly warm and welcoming. My mum accidently crashed a wedding with some ladies from the other boats, and was invited to join in the dancing. All too soon, it was on to Madagascar.
Probably more of you have heard of Madagascar. We arrived in Hellville, (I giggle whenever I hear the name) and checked in pretty quickly. Hellville was much more touristy, and the streets were filled with cafes, shops and bijouterie. We had a lovely lunch at one of the many restaurants, and continued on to the Super Marché. Compared to a Western grocery store, it was nothing. But for us, it was freaking heaven. I found affordable strawberries (sadly we later found out that the strawberries had parasites). And tic-tacs. My parents found nice, cheap rum. Happiness all around!
We hung out with the other kid boats in a nearby anchorage called Crater Bay, while we waited for our friend Allison to arrive from the U.S. She arrived in due course, bearing the wealth of Trader Joe’s in her giant suitcase. We all got rather giddy. After snorkelling and hiking our way through the islands, we arrived at Nosy Komba, where we could go on the hunt for King Julian. We were led up the path by our guide, who called out to the lemurs, ‘makimakimakimakimakimaki’. Maki is Malagasy for lemurs. The lemurs leapt through the trees, making funny little snuffling noises as they sped toward the bananas held in our outstretched hands. Without any signs of fear, they leapt to our shoulders where they sat contentedly eating the morsel of banana that we offered them. They were incredibly gentle, soft, and light, and very cuddly. All too soon, it was over, and the lemurs hopped back through the jungle.
We’ve had an amazing time in Madagascar so far, and I’m looking forward to further exploring this wonderful country.