Madagascar diary, day 15. August 11, 2010

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Today I am the only one to get up early, because I will be doing the second whale spotting trip alone. At breakfast I get my tablet against motion sickness, but it is much more quiet at sea than yesterday. All of the 9 people that are going on the trip this morning have been on a trip before, so the briefing can be quick. One of the tourists gets a quick training with the GPS unit, because Maria is the only whale scientist on board. The sun is strong. The advantage of this weather is that one can see much further, so it is much easier to see the whales and take pictures; disadvantage seems to be that the whales don't show themselves as much. We spend a bit of time looking for whales. The first two whales we encounter are solitary males that are playing hide and seek with the boat. The second disappears for quite a while, and then suddenly appears right next to the boat. A little later the same happens with a female with baby. In the far distance, some of the people in the boat see some whale jumps, but they are single jumps, not an event that we could go towards.

Mother and baby humpback whale

While I am at sea, Maxim and Anne take bicycles from the hotel and visit the small zoo 2km north of the hotel. They see the different local animals, among which a very, very slow chameleon that they feed a grasshopper.

Nice road for bicycling to ambodifotatraDirt road on the way to Ambodifotatra

After our lunch together we take the bicycles for the trip to Ambodifotatra, the capital of the Ile Ste Marie, at 12km north of the hotel. The first 8km the roads are good, but after that it turns largely into a mud ride. There are deep holes in the road, for some of them it is difficult to gauge the depth because they are full of muddy water. We quickly try a scenic route, but when it appears to be not only muddy and irregular but also steep uphill, we decide to continue along the main road.

Street in Ambodifotatra, Ste Marie.

It is a great experience to cycle through the small city. The contact with the local culture is much stronger like this than when passing by car or walking with a tour guide.

Pirate island in the pirate lagoon

On the way back to the hotel we visit the pirate cemetary. Because of the high tide, the local guide (without any teeth, but with lots of humor) brings us to the cemetary in a pirogue over the lake.The view from the cemetary over the lagoon and the old pirate island is gorgeous.

Back in the hotel we drink something and write the postcards in our hotel room. Then it is time for dinner and sleep.

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