Mapless in Madagascar

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

  1. sion

    sion sigh-own

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    ha! I love the sideways look he's giving you in this pic :lol3

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    #81
  2. Tiffany

    Tiffany Airhead Adventuress

    Joined:
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    Location:
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    View from the Tent

    As night fell, I was still outside looking at the stars- they are incredible out here where there's no artificial light.

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    It's a perfect temperature, warm but breezy so there is no problem with the mosquitoes.

    Sunrise and I looked over towards the guide's tent

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    They were busy


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    Suzi was still there as well- no bike rustlers had sneaked up on us in the night, although there had been a lot of animal noises coming from the bushes around us.
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    breakfast was soon ready

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    We felt like Victorian Lady Explorers having this sort of service, something I could quite get used to!

    6.30am and off we paddle

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    Spectators are sparse

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    another sandbank to push the boat past

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    watched by various pedestrians (yes, they are STILL just wading across the river!)

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    Others are using zebu carts to collect water

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    A passing piroguier knows Fali and he paddles alongside us for 40 minutes chatting to our guys

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    There is a relaxed pace of life on the river.

    We spot some people panning for gold and pull up in the shade of a large tree beside them

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    I check that Henny Penny is still Ok

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    she's got the bottom bunk underneath Suzi. Abi gives her a comforting hug

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    #82
  3. Tiffany

    Tiffany Airhead Adventuress

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    Lunch was being prepared, and it was a scene of tranquillity, we were sat under the tree with the children staring at us while their mothers and older sisters panned for gold.

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    When some people appeared on the opposite bank,

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    Behind them more people were emerging from amongst the trees. We asked Nasulah what was going on, he shrugged and said "It's people from the taxi boat"
    this is an overcrowded motor boat which runs a bus service for settlements on the river. We'd spotted it earlier but it had then stopped and taken a different channel of the river from us. While we'd been sat under the tree, we had heard its engine as it made its way along the river.

    The people started calling over to us, Nasulah looked up, what was more interesting was the reaction of the gold panners (women and girls) as they looked up

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    They called out some questions, which were answered and suddenly looking extremely alarmed, they threw down their pans, grabbed the babies and small children and then rushed away.
    We asked what was happening, and Nasulah said
    "It's bandits, they have attacked the taxi boat and now they are coming this way"

    He agreed with us that we had to go and straightaway. The charcoal burner was doused, the saucepans grabbed and we rushed back into the boat pushing off from the bank and the guys paddled hard.

    Nasulah asked to borrow my binoculars and scanned the river bank on the opposite side

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    You'll be pleased to hear that the bandits did not appear and we escaped safely.
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    #83
  4. Tiffany

    Tiffany Airhead Adventuress

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    I knew I had a better picture of it somewhere

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    and it's true the eyes follow you round - they're incredible to get close to.
    #84
  5. Tiffany

    Tiffany Airhead Adventuress

    Joined:
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    There's a lot of blogging today, I'm in the unusual situation of having good Internet connection whilst not being able to travel as I'm waiting to pick up the extra capacity fuel tank for Suzi from the bike shop. But as it's Election Day today in Madagascar, it turns out that most places are closed so I'll have to pick it up tomorrow, in the meantime I'm catching up on a couple of weeks blogging and photo uploads

    Our delayed lunch took place almost two hours downstream (bearing in mind that the bandits have hijacked the taxi boat and so potentially have an engine while we just have paddle (and brolly) power.

    We pulled up at a sandbank with little shade, a few huts with people outside watched us get out and Nasulah directed us to a shady area at the side. we were both hot and so had a swim with the kids joining in

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    with more kids following

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    Despite the muddy brown colour of th river,t he locals wash, cook and even drink the water.
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    This child was using the cup to drink with and then just playing with the water.

    The story of our near brush with the bandits was told to the villagers who were very interested.
    Then a motor boat came past

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    They were regaled with the story and warned about the bandits

    Other motor boats appeared and we realised that the "real tourists" had caught us up in their motorised boats - something we had aspired to,

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    but after a day and a half on the river in our quiet pirogue, we realised we actually preferred our boat. we waved as the tourists on the other boats took pictures of us

    I can't think why they thought we were so odd looking...

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    Further on it was time for a break, the lemurs were calling to us

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    and we went ashore to get more photos of them

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    and to find the waterfall we'd heard about

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    The water was crystal clear and so jumped in for a swim and a bathe

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    We couldn't linger, we'd lost time today and so we headed on and as dusk was falling stopped at - yep, you've guessed it, a sand bank.

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    The guys quickly got the charcoal burners going as they prepared some food for us

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    With usual speed in the tropics, it quickly got dark and still the burners were going

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    while they were cooking, I seized the opportunity to upload some of my photos onto the computer

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    I think the photo was better without the flash, as you can't see how untidy our tent area is!!

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    This was the best night so far for jungle noises, the birds, frogs and lemurs were making a racket and adding to the exotic feel of the river.
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    #85
  6. Tiffany

    Tiffany Airhead Adventuress

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    An even earlier start the final morning on the river, I'm a bit bleary eyed and crumpled as we set off

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    The scenery makes up for it, we've entered a gorge and the rocks look amazing as the sunrise reflects off them

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    To our surprise we saw bats hanging from the cliff face, out in the open
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    We had an early stop at a bustling village on...dare I say it a sandbank. The guys seemed a bit shifty and went of towards the huts saying they were going to get a coffee- very unusual behaviour we thought. They left us at the edge of the water, where we found a randomly placed bench to sit on

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    The morning wore on
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    and we realised Henny Penny was being a bit quiet- in fact we couldn't see her. We questioned the guys and the admitted she'd been despatched during the night. We hadn't smelt any meat cooking and I suspect that our unexplained and rather odd stop at the village earlier had been their attempt at selling her body parts. There's a lot of fish on the river but very few chickens we'd noticed. It was not a subject to discuss but we were subdued.

    It was a warm day with little shade until the guys hailed a bloke under a thatched shade. we pulled up and joined him and the two boys
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    The bloke pulled some birds (!) out of a bag

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    Sparrows, baby budgies and other small birds, all apparently destined for the cooking pot.

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    all alive and desperate to escape.

    At least the puppy looked happy
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    We didn't realise but this was the final meal break, as at the next stop, we got out to walk for a while along the river bank and at the end of the walk were told the trip was over and we were at our destination.
    Except that the actual contracted destination (remember that "business meeting") was 6kms down the track after some river crossings.
    We were given the opportunity to off-load our luggage which I wasted no time in doing, the bags went into the zebu cart and I also took advantage to off-load my passenger, after all she's not going to enjoy river crossings

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    We said goodbye to Marietta and Fali. Nasulah was continuing on with us and fancied himself as the next Lewis Hamilton of the zebu world and picked up the reins

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    The guy in front with the white T-shirt?? Well he announced he would come on the bike with me and be my guide- why not I thought as he jumped on in his barefeet.

    The zebu cart took off at a gallop while I was still getting my helmet on and making introductions with my "guide" - John the Baptist, OK it's actually Jean Batiste, but that is what it means.

    We soon caught up with the cart, Abi was in the back barely able cling onto the sides and so she did well to take these photos as we followed

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    Abi's view from the back looking forwards
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    I finally had to hop up onto a footpath at the side to get past

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    I got to the village quite a time before them, found a hotel/bungalow place and grabbed a room, Their zebu cart came trotting along, with Abi now smiling as she realised her life was no longer in danger.

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    John the Baptist had been great as a pillion rider, cackling away as we sped along and ploughed through a river. He just clung onto the rack at the back and I didn't even notice he was there.

    A cold [​IMG] as the sun set finished the day off nicely for me.


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    #86
  7. Tiffany

    Tiffany Airhead Adventuress

    Joined:
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    Location:
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    So many adventures, so many pictures and so little time to post it all up...

    A farewell to our floppy hats, they had served us well
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    we gave them to the cleaner who took this photo for us

    off to catch a ferry
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    where they insisted that I would not be allowed to ride my bike along the ramp and the blokes then spent ages wrestling the bike onto the barge

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    we sat at the front away from the engines
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    at the other end I was allowed to ride off

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    #87
  8. Tiffany

    Tiffany Airhead Adventuress

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Lands End, England (sometimes)
    Leaving the ferry and tearing ourselves away from the riverside scenes, such as boys collecting water

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    We head into ton and stopped at the first shaded place we saw, my sister is getting quite comfortable in her bike gear as you can see

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    We bumped into Nasulah - our river guide
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    who was so pleased to see us he did one of his mega watt smiles for the camera- he usually prefers to have a straight face for photos.

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    We seemed to be spending a lot of time on boats, we now needed to take yet another one

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    This one then sat there for an hour with us on it waiting to fill up with passengers before it will go.
    Never mind, this is Africa and there's always plenty to watch, today it was the zebu washing competition
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    with particular emphasis being paid to the bums

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    I'm sitting comfortably, writing my journal

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    other boats are off-loading, they don't worry about niceties like a quay here!

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    car ferries are packed

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    Our boat was full, but the bloke in charge decided there was room for more, and a Suzuki 125 was passed in

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    Things got pretty cramped

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    You can see Suzi on the left side with the guy leaning over her - he's having to sit on the edge of the boat.
    #88
  9. Tiffany

    Tiffany Airhead Adventuress

    Joined:
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    Oddometer:
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    Location:
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    You guys are going to enjoy this one

    I know of some people who pay good money to do obstacle course races through deep mud- as I reminded my sister, she gets to do it for free!

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    We'd arrived and under the deceptive surface of the water is deep sucking mud- we didn't want to lose our boots in it, so went barefoot to get us, our gear and Suzi to dry land- and it was a long haul as you will see

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    I wasn't just watching, I was supervising the bike unloading...

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    Come on boys, lets see if we can keep the momentum going...
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    Don't slow down now...

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    and yes, that IS our bike lying in the dry (ish) mud

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    sorting out the side stand
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    Luggage on, sister slogged through mud to a better vantage point, now I've just got to get out off here
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    this bit is very wet and slippery
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    and onto dry land

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    #89
  10. TemeculaRider

    TemeculaRider Been here awhile

    Joined:
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    Location:
    La Paz, Baja California Sur
    You gals know how to have fun! :rofl

    Wow, wow, wow. Enjoyed every word and pic, Tiffany. And am counting the seconds for more! This is easily one of the most enjoyable reports I've read here.

    I saw a Ken Follet book packed. Wilbur Smith is my favorite all-time author and his best stuff takes place on the other side of the Agulhas Current.

    Subscribed! :freaky
    #90
  11. Tiffany

    Tiffany Airhead Adventuress

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    I had to look up Temecula - wasn't sure if it would be a drink, a game or a place! Good to hear you're enjoying the RR, lots more to follow, just a bit tricky at times doing the travelling whilst also blogging. My sister is a bit embarrassed about having brought a Ken Follett book with her - the theory being that you bring something that you might not enjoy reading and then it lasts longer, because there's only room for one book each. But actually we both enjoyed it.
    #91
  12. Tiffany

    Tiffany Airhead Adventuress

    Joined:
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    Location:
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    I promise, no more boats for a while

    we're now back on the road with a vengeance, except it's not much of a road, lots of sand and it's often rutted which is not fun, I drop the bike - one of those slow motion drops, my sister is more surprised than anything and she's also surprised at how tricky it is to pick up a bike in sand. I didn't take a picture as:
    a) It was swelteringly hot
    b) her foot was trapped under the bike
    c) I didn't want to damage sisterly relations as we've got to spend a couple more weeks together on the bike

    the tracks are pretty empty, we start to see our first Baobab trees

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    there are few other road users

    we spot another motorcyclist but quicly agree he probably is NOT another overlander unless he's an Action Man role player
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    I love the zebu carts

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    It's getting late and we stop at a forest reserve for the night, staying in the dorm. To my surprise a large cat appears at the door and then I realise it's got a very long tail and actually it turns out to be a fossa - supposed to be one of the most difficult to spot animals in Madagascar and here it is almost walking in on me getting changed.
    Grabbing my camera I follow it into the woods
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    It looks a bit fierce so I don't try to get too close.

    Hot on the heels of doing my David Attenborough impression we head into the woods properly for a night walk with a guide

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    the guide proves excellent at listening to the forest noises and pointing his torch in the right direction

    however my camera skills and the distance from the animals as they either hide or move quickly means that I haven't got much worth showing here but I do have a lot of good memories from the fat-tailed lemur tot he little mouse lemur and even this mongoose

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    followed by these little fellows
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    The Giant Jumping Rat- it looks fine from the front - like a rabbit, but then it turns and its got the scaly tail of a rat - yuck and yes they DO jump and they move very quickly.

    Lemurs next...
    #92
  13. TemeculaRider

    TemeculaRider Been here awhile

    Joined:
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    Oddometer:
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    Location:
    La Paz, Baja California Sur
    Yes, Temecula is the town I was in for 13 yrs in Southern California. I have now been in La Paz, Baja California Sur, Mexico for the last couple of years.

    I literally LOLed at your sis's theory with books! :lol3 That is so true. I've spent 3x longer reading a lousy 300 page book than a 1,200 page great one! I have spent many hours reading Follet books and enjoyed them all.

    Anyway, you have a friend in Baja! :D

    And now I see a new update. :clap
    #93
  14. Tiffany

    Tiffany Airhead Adventuress

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    <HR style="COLOR: #d1d1e1; BACKGROUND-COLOR: #d1d1e1" SIZE=1> <!-- / icon and title --><!-- message -->
    What can I say - this is one of the reasons we're here

    first the juveniles arrive and have a good look at us

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    and these guys like getting close
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    a bit of banana works wonders
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    The Loud Librarian gets in on the act

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    Mum comes over to check us out, she is the Alpha female of this group

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    a sleepy baby on her back

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    then the look out guy called the alarm
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    and off they went

    Thanks for letting me be self-indulgent with the lemur pictures!!
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    #94
  15. Lacedaemon

    Lacedaemon Been here awhile

    Joined:
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    Northern Virginia
    Really enjoying this report!

    I think you did pretty darn well on the nighttime nature photos. There's not much that's harder to pull off.
    #95
  16. 8lives

    8lives Dharma Bum

    Joined:
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    Location:
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    Your ride reports just get better all the time,thanks for taking us all along again Tiffany::clap
    #96
  17. Tiffany

    Tiffany Airhead Adventuress

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    Thank you, kind words from you are much appreciated.
    #97
  18. Tiffany

    Tiffany Airhead Adventuress

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Lands End, England (sometimes)
    More sand and more Baobabs
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    the mad African bus lives on in Madagascar

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    I didn't manage to get the chickens and ducks on the roof in this shot.

    and then suddenly we were surrounded by greenery and paddy fields.

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    Time to head to the beach, and a reasonably nice place to stay as well
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    this is a view of our room - from the outside because in my usual fashion within five minutes of arriving at a hotel room, it resembles a war zone with stuff scattered everywhere.

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    I get acquainted with the neighbours
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    The Librarian couldn't wait to hit the beach
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    Tourists may be few and far between but there's always a friendly dog

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    and a sundowner drink as we watched the sun set

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    #98
  19. Paddygfw

    Paddygfw Adventurer

    Joined:
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    Newfoundland
    Great pictures:clap........look forward to your posts:ear
    #99
  20. tundradirtbiker

    tundradirtbiker Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2009
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    Location:
    Oregon City
    Great RR, Thank you!