Wednesday, November 9, 2011
We tried to sleep in, somewhat successfully. On the way to breakfast, a big group of ringtail lemurs nonchalantly walked by and stopped right next to us. At breakfast, we fended off the lemurs yet again (presumably not the ones that we just encountered on the path), and the staff was appreciative that we part of the solution, not part of the problem. We also wished Debo a happy birthday, as it was still the 8th back in California. After breakfast, we hung around for 15 minutes or so watching sifakas trying to cross the road. But since we were near a parking lot, all of the trucks driving around made them unwilling to move. Eventually a couple of them did their deal, and then we got on our way.
Not surprisingly, the drive back was like the drive in, but with better weather - not that it helped the roads. We did see hillsides full of Triangle Palms. Apparently this is a big thing with most tourists, but we have several large Triangle Palms at both our homes, so while cool, it wasn't earth-shattering. We got to the hotel in Fort Dauphin just before 11am. At the hotel (which was owned by the same folks who owned Berenty), we had wi-fi for the first time in awhile, so that was good. We checked in on what was going on in the world, checked our email, and made sure nothing major warranted our attention. At lunch, we ate outside, and there were a lot of flies. Justin tried to maintain his cool, but then kept swatting at the flies, eventually (and not surprisingly) inadvertently breaking a glass in the process. Flies 1, Justin 0. We came back to the hotel for a bit, then got picked up at 1:50 by a couple of people from the Manafiafy Lodge.
They told us the drive would be about 2 hours, which we were ecstatic to hear. We had no idea how good the road would would be, but feared the worst. Ironically, it was much better, because Rio Tinto (a major mining company) was doing mining in the area and wanted good roads for its vehicles. The road was fairly similar to the road from Morondava to Belo Tsiribihina (which was the good part of the road to the Tsingy). Right near the end, we veered off onto a smaller road, which had many ups and downs through sandy soil and a lot of stream and creek crossings. We didn't know we were that close when we heard "Welcome to the Lodge."
We got out of the vehicle and met the manager, Simon, who showed us around the main areas and told us there would be only one other guest at the entire lodge. We were walking around for a bit when we heard the ocean, then saw it. There were big granite rocks right on the water, like in the Seychelles, and the hotel was set on a nice half-moon bay. We were ecstatic to be somewhere more relaxed, not that we didn't enjoy the other parts of our trip too. Simon told us that he had expected us the night before, and that he had us down for one night, which brought up all the crap from a couple nights' previous. We explained the situation and told him we thought it had been rectified, and asked him to see if he could track down our travel agency and see if things had been worked out. We were glad to hear about 30 minutes later that they had.
We went down the beach, which was a 5 second walk from our back door, and set foot in the Indian Ocean for the first time. It was much colder than we expected, especially after how warm the Mozambique Channel had been. We walked down to the western edge of the beach and looked back over the grounds. Crystal said she really liked being at the ocean, to which Justin reminded her that she has not one but two homes within 10 miles of the ocean which she never uses. Crystal's response was "Yeah, but it's not this ocean." We went back and got a drink at the bar, then went onto the rocks and watched the sunset. When we got up on the rocks, we realized that there was another bay over the rocks to the northeast, with more rocks all over the place.
At dinner, we ate with Simon and the only other guest, Patricia, from Germany. We talked about our respective trips (we were both almost done), the area, trying to avoid people from our own country (who knew that was a thing) when on holiday. We wrapped up around 9:30, headed back to the room, hoping the surf would help us get a good night's sleep.