Mapless in Madagascar

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Tiffany, Sep 19, 2013.

  1. Tiffany

    Tiffany Airhead Adventuress

    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2010
    Oddometer:
    1,125
    Location:
    Lands End, England (sometimes)
    Just to backtrack a bit, pre-sister
    I had to get back to the mainland of Madagascar and this was the boat myself and Suzi the bike were taking to the open sea in

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    To be honest there is a something that I would think of as a better ferry but my timings meant I was heading out in this. They quickly got Suzi on board

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    All was peaceful in the early morning on the beach, as I waited for more passengers to arrive; a duck seller approached and wanted to know if I was interested in his wares. I pointed out I was travelling by motorcycle and he offered to tether them, still ive, to Suzi

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    I declined.

    and then all hell let loose when the earlier cargo, a zebu (African cross between an ox and a cow) charged back onto the beach

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    with half the village either running from it or chasing it[​IMG]
    I was one of those cowering behind a tree taking these photos

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    this appeared to be the end of its adventures but it tossed its head, charged at the guy who had hold of the rope, who, quite naturally let go and ran for his life (with the rest of the village watching and roaring with laughter)

    the zebu then changed tack, having been chasing up and down the road and the beach, it headed away from the people

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    and out to sea


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    this was on full zoom - similar to those blurry Loch Ness monster photos from the 1950's. This is definitely genuine.

    At which point as it reached 1/4 mile out to sea with no sign of stopping, the boat guys ran out from the café where they were having breakfast and took to the boat in attempt to head off the zebu

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    Hmm, yes, well spotted, that IS Suzi acting as part of the Inshore Lifeboat rescue team, strapped down in the boat which is little more than a glorified rowing boat.

    They reached the zebu, grabbed its trailing rope

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    and brought it back to shore at a forced march version of a swim

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    however, as its feet reached solid ground once more, it took off, lowered its head

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    even angrier than before and we had the Pamplona Running of the Bulls on a tropical beach again

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    Until finally, after a lot more bull charging, it was finally caught and tethered to a tree on the beach to calm down

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    #61
  2. nunoajc

    nunoajc Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2013
    Oddometer:
    40
    Location:
    Faro - Portugal
    :d
    #62
  3. Tiffany

    Tiffany Airhead Adventuress

    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2010
    Oddometer:
    1,125
    Location:
    Lands End, England (sometimes)
    There is a lot to catch up on after just a week without internet, so here we go

    With all the zebu drama, I hadn't noticed how many people had gathered on the beach for the boat to the mainland. They quickly climbed aboard and I squeezed in between a granddad and a 10 year old. In total there were 20 people and about 10 kids ont he boat plus a lot of luggage and of course, Suzi the motorbike.
    It looked something like this

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    yes, the eight year old is fast asleep against the bike.

    It was a relatively short journey, around 40 mins to the mainland and we soon found ourselves surfing in on the waves, landing on a sandy beach

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    children were passed off the boat first and it was all hands to help out

    this was the sleepy head and her baby brother

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    Bags were passed off next, and then they all heaved the boat up the beach. Except there wasn't much movement. It wouldn't budge and the waves were breaking over the stern, swamping the boat. a shout went out, now I'm not much of a Malagasy speaker, but even I could tell that the yell was "Get the bike off or we lose the boat" - I'm sure there are shadows of Jonah in this somewhere.
    I couldn't protest, they undid the ropes, grabbed Suzi and hauled her overboard in almost waist deep water.
    I admit I panicked a bit, but there was nothing I could do, but the guys did well and hauled her quickly up the shore.

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    This woman in the foreground was more concerned with her charcoal brazier. They pulled and hauled Suzi up the beach.


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    and then everyone helped to get the boat up high beyond the reach of the waves

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    I stayed to make sure all was well and to pay my fare.
    I looked around, I had absolutely no idea where I was, I'd been landed ont he coastline of Eastern Madagascar somewhere north of Soaneirana ivongo (bit of a mouthful that one). It was just a beach, no jetty or anything, they had been unable to show me on my map where I was - it was too small to be graced with a name.
    So I took off, heading south, heading inland a bit to find a track. The track soon petered out into water

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    which I managed to cross, the next part had a thoughtful bridge of sorts, for pedestrians and bikes

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    In this part of the world, this is major infrastructure.

    But then things went downhill when I had to follow this stream

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    Unbelievably, I came across another bike with a couple of local blokes wearing some sort of hunting gear.

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    They could only reply yes to everything I asked them. So I continued south with the sea on my left, until suddenly I came out onto the local equivalent of the M5, complete with a lorry blocking the way

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    That sandy track may not look much but it was the best chance of a main road I had seen for almost a couple of hours.

    I reached a river, with a vehicle barge [​IMG]ging past

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    I took a pirogue with the welcome sight at the other end of Madame and the lunch table

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    I selected the veggie options - the meal is called compose, and you choose what you want. My eal looked something like this

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    Madame was able to confirm that I was ont he correct road and shortly after I saw this welcome sight

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    For the uninitiated, that is a Malagasy kilometre post, set at intervals on major routes (it may take a slight stretch of the imagination to see this as being a major route)

    Even better, the S/Ivongo 8 potentially means I am just 8 kms from the town with the very long name and where rumours have it, there is tarmac.

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    I was thrilled, but then it doesn't take much to please me[​IMG]
    and so I promptly fell over

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    I've mastered the picking up with your back tot he bike, so not such a problem this time.

    and I was a bit more careful with the next section

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    a note to self to maybe not bring pillion riders this way.

    hotly pursued by something that looks like it should be in a horror movie

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    I made it to the safety of yet another pirogue

    where Suzi was loaded in some quite stagnant water, made to look prettier by some floating plants -believe me, it was stinking and I was almost knee deep in it as I helped the blokes to lift her up and into the pirogue.

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    at the other end we had a bit of a problem, I thought the shore looked odd, it turned out we had a longish haul to more solid ground

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    and then when I reached the village entrance, it was completely underwater, early rains had caused flooding

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    The next 20 minutes were spent trying to find a route between the thatched huts and up onto solid ground.
    #63
  4. Tiffany

    Tiffany Airhead Adventuress

    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2010
    Oddometer:
    1,125
    Location:
    Lands End, England (sometimes)
    Yes, I found the tarmac and yes, I made it to civilisation, though if you can call this civilisation

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    They've got wings and to give you a sense of size...

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    Nearly the size of my hand. I had entered the land of the giant cockroaches. To add to my problems

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    It had started to rain, this is the view from my room at the best hotel in town looking towards the shared toilet. And to prove it's a proper hotel, here are the rules...

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    if you can read Malagasy.

    However I was more concerned with the rain, this is supposed to be the dry season in Madagascar[​IMG]

    I put all my layers of clothes on and headed out, things were not much prettier on the roads. Looking at this picture, you may be surprised to hear that they are actually supposed to drive on the right in Madagascar

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    This was one of those situations where it's every man (or woman) for him/herself, and I was quick to take advantage with the off-road capabilities of the bike.

    And so to Tana and the house of Thom and his family who had heard about my travels and kindly offered to host me (and my dirty washing!). What lovely, fantastic people. Clothes in the washing machine and I sat down
    to a sumptuous meal

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    Thai food with a great wine and great company

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    I felt completely spoilt.
    As a total contrast, my next 24 hours were spent in very normal pastimes, such as going for a bike ride with the kids and Thom

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    Even this close to the city centre, there are paddy fields

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    Playing landrover games
    an old play structure which is rotting and dangerous, it needs demolishing

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    Enter the Landrover and girls who know how to use all the attachments



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    It might not have been pretty but it didn't take long and it was very satisfying.

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    Playing board games is also one of my favourites, though I well and truly lost at Fibber

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    And so goodbye to this life of comfort and back to the road this time with my sister in tow as pillion rider.
    #64
  5. Tiffany

    Tiffany Airhead Adventuress

    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2010
    Oddometer:
    1,125
    Location:
    Lands End, England (sometimes)
    She arrived with a smile and sense of adventure, more importantly, she arrived with very little luggage[​IMG][​IMG]
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    Day one on the road and she's got the hang of the picnic lunches

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    Accommodation-wise we started off gently, just take a look at this place or should I say palace?!

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    It cost us about £10 between us for the night. We're up on the second floor so I'm hoping that the flying cockroaches won't reach us!!

    We're using the local rickshaws to get around, no bike, just a bloke on foot running through the streets in his barefeet.

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    she's got a good sense of humour and enjoyed it all.

    A chameleon was spotted in the road

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    He tried to leg it, but we were onto him with our cameras

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    She (sister NOT chameleon) likes bird watching, and spotted a Madagascar Hawk

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    Meanwhile I'm riding around enjoying a bit of off-roading

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    #65
  6. Motorrev

    Motorrev Semi-Adventurer

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2010
    Oddometer:
    53
    Location:
    Texas Panhandle
    Tiffany--
    Great report!! Hello to your sister too. I've been following your stuff for a long time, just don't usually check in, but it the best and most interesting of them all.
    Take care and let us know how things are going.
    Bob
    #66
  7. lukeman

    lukeman Cool Hand

    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2008
    Oddometer:
    463
    Location:
    Washington DC
    Looks like you two are enjoying yourselves. I don't think I'd be able to last 10 minutes with my sister traveling :)
    #67
  8. FotoTEX

    FotoTEX Long timer

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2007
    Oddometer:
    2,862
    Location:
    Granbury Texas
    Enjoying, once again, your epic adventures.Travel safe...
    #68
  9. Lacedaemon

    Lacedaemon Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2007
    Oddometer:
    628
    Location:
    Northern Virginia
    #69
  10. Tiffany

    Tiffany Airhead Adventuress

    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2010
    Oddometer:
    1,125
    Location:
    Lands End, England (sometimes)
    Thanks for that, I enjoyed reading the report as I scratched at the numerous bites on my back - bitten through my shirt and vest last night- now wondering if it's Bubonic Plague and will be checking out the symptoms shortly.
    Funnily enough as soon as my pics are online, one of the first to be posted in the next few days is from my recent encounter with the Madgascan Giant Jumping Rat - yes, it's for real and YES It's BIG:eek1
    #70
  11. TheReaper!

    TheReaper! Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2009
    Oddometer:
    654
    Location:
    S.E. Michigan
    Just curious , would these be alright for vegetarians :D
    (sister is cute:evil)
    TheReaper!


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    #71
  12. rockydog

    rockydog just a guy

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2007
    Oddometer:
    1,050
    Location:
    okieland
    Hi Tiffany and the cool Librarian, enjoying the journey and pics of beaches, palm trees, sarongs, and good food as we march toward frost on the pumpkins time back here. I'm curious about the range of local produce available and the methods of cooking, it all looks tasty.

    Have lots more fun, Stephen
    #72
  13. 8lives

    8lives Dharma Bum

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2012
    Oddometer:
    2,027
    Location:
    Shasta County,Calif
    Hey Tiffany that picture of you and your young friend playing Fibber is price less,it makes me smile every time I look at it,good times.Hope you get to feeling better!
    #73
  14. Franck B

    Franck B Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2012
    Oddometer:
    118
    Location:
    French living in Munich, Germany
    #74
  15. Tiffany

    Tiffany Airhead Adventuress

    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2010
    Oddometer:
    1,125
    Location:
    Lands End, England (sometimes)
    You know my motto as far as eating goes Reaper - Nothing With a Face
    and this little creepy crawly definitely has a face:D
    #75
  16. Tiffany

    Tiffany Airhead Adventuress

    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2010
    Oddometer:
    1,125
    Location:
    Lands End, England (sometimes)
    Hey Stephen, the food is great out here, having travelled a lot in other parts of Africa and lived at times on quite a monotonous diet of mealy maize/nshima and beans, I'm enjoying the wide variety here. Lots of produce, cooked with rice or spaghetti, chips (french fries to you) and fritters including veggie and sweet ones.
    More food stuff to follow.
    #76
  17. Tiffany

    Tiffany Airhead Adventuress

    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2010
    Oddometer:
    1,125
    Location:
    Lands End, England (sometimes)
    Hello Tiffany,

    I just came back from an off-road trip in Mada. I´m posting it there :
    http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=928633
    Do not hesitate to contact me should you need information on any of the stretches I did.

    Good ride
    Franck

    Thanks for that Franck, I'll take a closer look- sounds like you had a great time.
    #77
  18. Tiffany

    Tiffany Airhead Adventuress

    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2010
    Oddometer:
    1,125
    Location:
    Lands End, England (sometimes)
    We rode through a market trying to find our hotel,

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    but even I had to admit defeat at this point and turn around, not even the cyclists were going through

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    We found out the hotel had closed down and so we headed tot he bungalows on offer and had one that looked like a honeymoon place

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    Abi decided to go for that scary travel experience where you get someone to cut your hair and the person does not share a common word of language with you!

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    The flicks and layers I ended up with in Georgia still come back to haunt me[​IMG]

    Elections are brewing, the first in many years, pick up trucks with large sound systems in the back are trawling the streets playing political speeches and distorted music at ear splitting volumes, and the walls are covered in election posters - we've picked out favourites

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    We met another bike traveller, this is Kim from Korea who has hired a Honda for 25 days.

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    I do have a picture of his bike somewhere but that will have to appear later.

    We'd been heading west and reached the end of the tarmac/dirt or any sign of further tracks and so went in search of a boat to continue. We had visions of something like this

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    We spread the word in town, and soon had a "business meeting" to sort out getting down the river.

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    Due to our incredible negotiating skills and low budget, the actual boat we ended up with was this

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    without the washerwomen I hasten to add.
    #78
  19. Tiffany

    Tiffany Airhead Adventuress

    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2010
    Oddometer:
    1,125
    Location:
    Lands End, England (sometimes)
    Sitting on the river bank watching as the boat guys decide how to load.

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    They did it- got Suzi onto the pirogue.

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    A pirogue is basically a tree trunk which has been scraped out to create a dug out canoe. They are very plentiful on the rivers and sea around Madagascar and most parts of Africa.

    Everything is ready
    We have Suzi the bike securely [​IMG] tied on the pirogue

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    We've got comfortable seats for Abi and me, I'll also be using my BMS Ergo seat, which adds further to my Princess and the Pea reputation. All our bike gear and luggage is safely stowed.

    We've been shopping and got floppy hats and umbrellas to protect us from the sun.

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    Abi looks a bit more Ladies Day at Ascot than me!!

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    And off we go (never mind that the river is only ankle deep at this point!!)

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    Yes, SHE got the flowery umbrella[​IMG]

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    The crew...
    this is Marietta

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    Fali - the main paddle guy is on the left and Nasulah the guide on the right

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    Together we've got three days of rivers to navigate before we reach a dirt track.

    Whoops almost forget, one other passenger, this is Henny Penny who sat in the shade under Suzi most of the time

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    Henny Penny's motives for travelling seem a bit unclear, but actually she's destined for the stew pot - just don't tell her.
    #79
  20. Tiffany

    Tiffany Airhead Adventuress

    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2010
    Oddometer:
    1,125
    Location:
    Lands End, England (sometimes)
    We pass small riverside settlements

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    Getting regular opportunities to swim

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    Helping to push when we grounded on sandbanks - this happened quite a bit on the first day as we're at the end of the dry season and the river is low. It's a welcome opportunity to cool down in the water.
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    Other river users
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    Other boats
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    and a chance to see the wildlife up close

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    Moored for the evening on a sandbank

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    The locals come over to for a closer look at these strange foreigners and their motorbike.
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    Nasulah breaks out the Rum[​IMG]

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    and we set up our tent as the sun goes down
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    #80