MADAGASCAR & COMOROS ISLANDS
NOSY BE, MADAGASCAR (visited 12/99, written circa 10/00)
This is a place that I used to look at on the map and dream about. Well, I made it there, although it was only for about 4 hours. Madagascar is a massive island off of the eastern coast of Africa, and it is famous for an array of unusual wildlife, although much of the habitat necessary for the survival of many of it's unique species is quickly vanishing.
The human cannonball of Nosy Be ?
Nosy Be is a small village on the northwest part of the island. The people here are a mixture of many races with predominantly African features. Women here like to paint their faces with elaborate geometric patterns made from some type of white paint.
This girl was selling souvenirs by the pier
This town is extremely laid back. Lush tropical foliage intermingles with old run-down structures that are covered in some type of dark green moldy moss. There's not much to see here in the way of tourist attractions, but I met a couple of nice local people who traded a big bottle of pure Ylang Ylang (an essential oil native to Madagascar that is supposedly known for it's aphrodisiac powers among other qualities) for a copy of my CD "Live at the Museum". It was a very good deal for me!
They also hooked me up with a guy who had a small pick-up truck and agreed to take me on a sightseeing jaunt out through the countryside to a very sleepy seaside beach "resort" and fishing area. At the beach, local people were napping underneath palm trees. There were no tourists anywhere in sight. Maybe it was the off-season!
Napping at the beach - not a bad way to spend the afternoon
It was a picturesque and relaxing ride down mostly smooth dirt roads. The trip was predominantly through farmland, maybe sugarcane fields, with little hills here and there. I wondered if this area was all rainforest at one time. All of it was very green, and the roundtrip journey took about one and a half hours.
Back in the town, the driver took some ship friends (who had hopped on for the ride) and I to see someone who had a pet lemur, since the chances of seeing a lemur in the wild was almost non-existent. Lemurs are little monkey-like creatures indigenous to Madagascar who have a very distinctive howl, but this one made no sounds while we were there. They also had a baby lemur as well. The lemur's eyes are very intense!
Do you like my lemur?
On the way back to the ship, I crossed paths with an elderly lady who very sweetly stopped walking and smiled at me. We didn't share any words, as we didn't speak the same language, however I could tell by her warm smile that she was offering me a welcome and her blessings. She agreed to pose for a picture for me in front of an old church where a wedding was to be held later that afternoon. What a nice lady! The picture came out OK, but unfortunately for some reason the flash wasn't working. Oh well, next time I'm in the neighborhood of Madagascar I'll have to ask for her picture again!
Get me to the church on time
MAYOTTE, COMOROS ISLANDS (visited 12/99; written circa 10/00)
This was yet another place where there was literally only about 2 hours to go ashore, which doesn't leave much time to do anything besides find a place to check e-mail and have something cool to drink. When you are on a ship for so long, believe me, ANY time ashore becomes golden!
Coming from the marketplace in Comoros
Mayotte was similar to Nosy Be in that the people are a mixture of several cultures, although the French cultural/colonial influence is predominant in the Comoros Islands. Here as in Madagascar the women wear a white substance on their face, designed in a multitude of patterns. I'm not sure if the individual patterns have any significance or not.
Talk about a superficial overview! I guess this was better than not visiting at all, right?
to the next PhotoJournal page - "SEYCHELLES and MALDIVES"
all text and photos Copyright (C) 1999-2000 Harry Miller