Madagascar diary, day 13. August 9, 2010

 

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We have to get up very early today. Our plane is scheduled for 06:00, and according to our guide this first plane to Ile Ste Marie is the only flight of the day that always leaves in time. I wake up 5 minutes before our 3:00 alarm call. Soon after, our breakfast arrives at the room: two hot chocolate and one cold coffee, with some energy bars. We leave the hotel with Jean-Jacques before 4:00, and arrive at the airport in far under an hour. Jean-Jacques stays with us until we get through all the checks. These are a bit more involved here than they were in Toliara; we actually have to repack some liquids and gels into our checked luggage before we can get through the lines. The closing of the checkin counters at 5:00 is announced several times, boarding the ATR-72 starts at 5:25 and the plane indeed leaves the gate in time. The flighttime to Ste Marie is 55 minutes. During that short flight we get some sweet bread and a glass of water.

Hotel zebu-cart

After landing and recovering our luggage we find the hotel car where we leave our luggage, and we take the Zebu-cart for the 500m to the hotel. It is 7:30 when we check in, and our room will be ready in an hour. Since we had breakfast already "twice" this morning, we only get ourselves a coffee in the bar, and then watch a group of tourists leave on the whale trip for the morning. We are told that our own whale-spotting trips are  planned for Tuesday and Thursday mornings, but soon after our room becomes available we are called that plans have changed: a storm is predicted for Thursday, so our second whale-watching trip is moved to Wednesday morning.

Just outside of our room, Maxim discovers a hang-mat, and immediately falls asleep, recovering some of the time lost during the night. During this time I take one of the bicycles of the hotel, and make a quick tour around until about 4km north of the hotel. Here there is a nice view of the ocean and I can see the blow-outs of whales in the distance.

Evening view over the ocean

After lunch in the hotel we check out the local reefs outside the hotel. Unfortunately the wind and waves make this a less pleasant experience, and we quickly give up. Instead, we rest on the wooden pier, and make a quick swim in the protected area of the sea ("pool") where we see a surprising number of different fish. We take a shower, make a walk in the village close to the hotel, but when we set out to make a bicycle trip together pouring rain convinces us to stay put. Instead, we read a bit in our rooms, waiting for an early dinner. A group of musicians from Toliara is in town and plays music next to the pool in the hotel. After dinner we quickly go to bed: our whale tour is tomorrow morning at 8:00.

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