(the misadventures of an expatriate corporate dropout)

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

on to Madagascar.

we arrived at Kenya airport without incident. We thought it was funny to see the very same truck JY just sold on the streets of Nairobi! We tracked down the Kenya Airlines cashier and received reimbursement for our visas (we had to buy $40 visas for our one night at the hotel). We were then checked in to Madagascar Airlines with anticipation. The attendant chided Monsieur for not speaking English ... imagine me in the role of interpreter! it is a good thing he is a patient person and is entertained by my foul french, eh?!

we wandered through Kenya airport, noting all the little shops and the cheap items on sale ... great deals on ciggies, liquor and African trinkets. we decided to wait until our return before shopping much.

as we wandered, we stumbled across our gate! and they were checking folks in! we were surprised and somewhat confused about times, etc. not long after we went through security, they began boarding so we were grateful about our coincidental discovery of the gate.
Our flight was over 3 hours, so we were fed again! the food was actually tasty and actually REAL food vs. the food we are served these days on airlines. Yes the food was in foil but it wasn't the frozen stuff you get now. It was fresh chicken, potatoes and carrots ... a real dessert ... none of it tasted industrialized like the common airline fare.

We made good seatmates with much goofing off and giggling. I'm not sure our fellow passengers would vote the same ... but c'est la vie! life is much more enjoyable spent laughing ... trust me.

We arrived at Antananarivo (Tana) and it was a very familiar reception. I remember arriving my first time in Mexico and having the feeling of running the 'gauntlet'. In Tana, an onslaught of men pressed upon us...offering their services - taxis, guides, etc. They were friendly and not too overbearing. One set of three stuck with us despite JY's 'merci, nons' ... and actually pointed us to several spots in the airport we needed to be. I think they thought that helpfulness might convince us in the end.

We arrived knowing we still needed ANOTHER flight to get to our desired destination, Ile. Ste. Marie, a small island in the northeast of Madagascar. So it was monsieur's turn to navigate, we were in frenchland again. He sorted it out, we plunked down more money and he left with the name of the hotel we were to go to.

Okay. now we exited to fairly oppressive heat (I'd guess high 80s/low 90s and high humidity) laden with our full backpacks. I mustered up my internal zen and we began walking. As soon as we left airport grounds, we were in the midst of various cottages, huts and shanties as we trudged the road. Supposedly, our hotel was nearby. A few cars stopped and offered taxi services, but monsieur declined thinking our hotel was just ahead.

finally, we stopped and chatted with a fairly friendly guy who had a car who took us to a hotel in the center of the village. we took showers to revive and headed out to the neighborhood. where we discovered a curfew was in effect due to the political troubles.

Yes, we chose a spot where the mayor of the capital and the president of the country have been embroiled in a power struggle for a few months now. After a few tense weeks of protests, shootings and the like, a curfew was imposed and the military rolled in.

This hotel was located in a residential area, very poor and apparently slightly surprised to see our white faces! ha, we walked up and down a few blocks at dusk, realized no bar of any sort was to be found. So we returned direction the hotel and ate at a very simple restaurant ... (some sort of chicken/rice dish and beer).

We rose the next day and decided to move closer to the airport, since we were flying out the next day. The atmosphere was tense and we elected just to remain at our new hotel ... which wasn't half bad. It could have been in old New Orleans, or somewhere in Latin America ... or where we were. Kind of tropical old world charm. Terraced and gardens and walled in, you could almost forget there were political skirmishes underway ... we lounged around and sipped beer and played cards and laughed a bit. In between mosquito spray and goofin' off!

Dinner was hilarious. For JY. Why? well because I let him order for me from the local specialties. So pork and manioc it was. He on the other hand selected a "3 Viandes" dish which looked quite tasty. Mine looked like this ... and tasted just about the same ... I longed for my Air Madagascar chicken, I did. The only things that saved the night were the rhum punch and the father/son guitar duo who played so well through dinner. Oh. and the laughing till I cried. that helped too!


Michelle said...

Wow, I was watching world news while you were away and that place was on it. I had a brief moment wondering if that was where you were, then thought, "nah, of course not."

That food makes me ill just looking at it. It looks like some sort of animal waste.

La Framéricaine said...

Michelle was polite. I was thinking human waste. But, if it was just bland, you were probably ahead of the game.

You are much braver than I. In that I will not move without knowing exactly how far I have to walk to get wherever!

I love the way you are doing the voyage in installments. It's so Arsène Lupin! I'm glad you are back, I missed you.

BTW, your home looks beautiful. I showed the photos to Le F and said I hoped we could do as well. Can we borrow JY? Without him, I feel we are doomed. We can offer a busman's holiday to you and your jack-of-all-trades! You'll have to visit us before we commence the work and then afterwards so that we will have knowledgeable witnesses to our labor!

Utah Savage said...

I could never forget you for a second. But you've been traveling. I like the simple, small, stay at home life. When I come to live with you I'll stay home and take care of the kitchen garden and the dogs.

amy said...

I love these installments! What an adventure. It looks like the "no food photography" rule that some restaurants have started hasn't taken effect in some places just yet... In the case of your blue plate special I'm not sure if that's a good thing!

Randal Graves said...

For anyone wondering what compost tastes like, thank our esteemed hostess for doing the dirty work.

Non Je Ne Regrette Rien said...

michelle~ we are gypsies at heart, what can I say? (hey, my security word is nomerard ... I just KNOW that is a form of nomad, somewhere!)

LaF~it tasted like what I imagine a cow's cud tastes like ... and that WOULDN'T be bland! thanks for the warm welcome and I would love to be your before and after witness!

Utah~careful, I'll hold you to that. And thanks for not forgetting...

Amy~I think I embarrassed JY by pulling out my camera, but it was a moment that screamed 'CAPTURE ME' ... and besides, like I CARED he was embarrassed after selecting that. and chiding me that if I didn't eat it, I would insult our hosts (of course, he was joking ... but I am easily moved by guilt).

RG~I'm here to help anyway I can!

Jonathon G said...

Thanks for posting these installments. It was a fascinating trip.