Friday, October 26, 2012

Mud, Muck and lots of Fun in Madagascar - by Zeke

As we sailed into Honey River we were immediately greeted by the site of our good friends on Emily Grace.  Once our anchor was down we were hailed by VHF, “Mojombo, Mojombo, this is Emily Grace”.  We replied and Tom suggested we go with them up a river for half an hour in a dinghy, then on a four hour walk through some villages.

 Next morning at 7 o’clock Nina, Dad and I piled into the dingy.  Mum was not coming because she had not been too well.  We motored over in the dingy to Emily Grace where we had decided to meet.  At Emily Grace we suggested that Emily ride with us in our dinghy.  We formed up a convoy of three dinghies.

Poling over a sandbar.

The first stage of our trip was easy.

With everyone now ready we were off up the river.  The first ten minutes of the trip was nice as we semi-planed along.  Then our guide told us to slow down as we needed to avoid sand bars.  As we made our way further up river we were continuously lifting up the outboard to avoid rocks.  At one stage we had to man handle the dinghies over a bar of rocks.  As the river got smaller we had to just stop motoring and paddle.  Eventually the dinghies would go no further and our guide told us that we would have to walk the rest of the way.  Later someone from the village would bring the dinghies up to the town when the tide came in.

But then the mud! River bank ascending.

The thing we did not realize was that we had to wade straight up the river bed itself.  At one stage the mud was so thick that I could not move my feet, so I pulled my feet out of my shoes and made some head way in bare feet.  Several times I all most toppled side ways and the others were not having much luck either.  After ten minutes in the river we got to climb up a river bank which made lovely fart like noises. From there it was on to a track, but that was not the last of it.  Five minutes later we had to re-cross the river to the village.  After trying various techniques when climbing the river banks the most successful one was to run up the slope and believe me it works.

 Click above to see my developed technique

Our guide for the trip.

As we set off on our walk our guide asked us in broken English how long we would like to walk for.  We replied that four hours would be good, so off we went.  On this walk we crossed three rivers twice. The wildlife consisted of six zebu, one snake and a couple of kingfishers.  We saw many houses and one village that had no one living there - our guide explained that these houses were occupied in the wet season when they grew rice.  The one ‘lived in’ village where we went to was our turning point.  At that village our friends gave out some clothes they had brought to give away.  We too had brought some clothes but Nina had failed to screw on the water bottle lid properly.  We could not bring ourselves to give away wet, soggy clothes.  We arrived back at the first village hot, tired and sweaty as there had been no clouds and hardly a breath of wind.  One of the villagers showed us to the dinghies.

A bus stop??

Two of the six zebu we saw.

We were not surprised at first to see water in our dinghy as we had climbed in and out many times.  Now that the tide was in we were able to set a good steady pace down river.  It soon became obvious that the water in the dinghy was getting in through a hole.  As it was only a slow leak we were not in any danger it was simply annoying.  As we were arriving back at the boat heavy clouds started to move in and it looked like rain.  It did rain and thunder and lightning joined the equation.

Me at the helm of our slowly sinking dinghy.

What a fun and adventurous life!

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