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    • Day 91

      Nosy Be, Madagascar - 2 of 3

      April 15, 2023 in Madagascar ⋅ ☀️ 84 °F

      Then we drove to the Eastern end of the Island to see Lemuria Land where we took a tour of the jungle habitat and saw many lemurs. The male lemurs are black and female are rust color. We observed these incredibly fast and strange looking “monkeys”. There are many varieties but they all seemed “friendly” even when you were not feeding them. In this habitat we also saw tortoises, reptiles and chameleons, orchids, and tamarind trees. The sacred 200 year old Ficus Tree is a cultural site for Malagasy people.

      The flora in this area was incredible and there were hundreds of ylang ylang trees that produce fragrant flowers. Then we experienced a “different” type of distillery tour. We learned and saw how perfumes and lotions are made from the ylang ylang flowers. The oil is extracted from flowers, frangipani, and vanilla and made into many products for export and sale.

      Note: the two videos are additional from our village stop in the prior post (don’t miss the expressions on the children’s faces).
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    • Day 91

      Nosy Be, Madagascar - 1 of 3

      April 15, 2023 in Madagascar ⋅ ☀️ 84 °F

      Nosy Be, Madagascar

      In 2005 the World first heard about Madagascar, from the Movie. It is located on the opposite side of the world from California. Remember Alex the Lion from Central Park who ended up in Madagascar when their raft ran aground? That’s how the original plants and animals ended up there in real life due to storms in mainland Africa and the vegetation created rafts that brought animals to the barren Madagascar. Just like the movie, they landed on an island that is a tropical forest with the strange baobab trees and palms. How about dancing lemurs? Yes they do since their long femurs allow them to jump from tree to tree and it is hard to walk on the ground so it looks like dancing. And the fosa is the enemy of the lemur in the movie and in life (and they live in a rock formation of spikes called tsingy). In the movie, you can see dozens of lemurs of all shapes, colors, and sizes including other dwarf lemurs, ruffed lemurs, and a red fronted lemur. This is a wonderful sample of the nearly 100 species of lemur currently recognized on the island. In the movie, we are also introduced to chameleons and leaf-tailed geckos. Madagascar has the largest number of chameleons in the world including the largest and smallest. ALL TRUE.

      Madagascar is located 250-400 miles off the eastern coast of Africa, just south of the equator. At 980 miles long and 389 miles wide, Madagascar is the world's fourth largest island. Nosy Be ("Big Island" in the Malagasy culture) is the busiest island in Madagascar with 123 square miles and a population of 207,000. Most of the island was inhabited by the Sakalava ethnic group (later joined by Comorians, Indians and Antandroy). These were the first inhabitants and settlements (500 BC - 700 CE), then explorers and immigration (700–1500), the“feudal” era (1500 - 1895) and then in 1848 slavery was abolished when the Sakalava revolted against the French. French colonization followed (1947-1960) and they received their Independence from the French in 1960.

      We went on a tour that included a ghost house, a visit to a traditional Sakalava village and a ylang ylang distillery with a lemur preserve. What an interesting day. The island produces avocado, oranges, lychee, mango, papaya and apples. , With more than 10,000 varieties of plants, this tropical paradise is covered with a large collection of flora, including 1,000 different species of orchids and 6 different species of baobab trees.

      We had to take a tender from the ship to the dock at Port of Hell Ville, since it is not a deep ports and once we arrived we were greeted by music and traditional dance, we got on a van that took us past many areas with piles of sand and rock and boats filled with sand, used for construction and actually one of the biggest money producing activities for locals. Sadly, there are few opportunities here for jobs and many work on roads and other government projects for minimal salaries (less than $10 a week) or drive tuk tuks where they occasionally can make a good days wage after paying the owner. The income is often a few hundred to $2000 per year, not enough to live on in any conditions.

      We made a stop at the “ghost house”, an abandoned mansion of a rich local trader from India in the 18th century Karim Djikak. It is thought to have ghosts because of the strange things occurrences while living here. He lived with ghosts who had the task to ensure his protection from people that tried to rob him.

      Our next stop after driving through a very busy town covered in tuk tuks (little cars that are used as taxis), was the village of Marodoka which still operates as an original Sakalava community. The 17th century Arab-Indian village of Sakalava’s were the first inhabitants of Ambanoro (today called Marodoka). The village was established by the first Arab and Indian migrants in the 15th century who were traders for gold, spices, turtle shells, but also slaves. The colonial architecture has Indian influences. Here we learned about the various dances that are hundreds of years old and each has deep religious meaning and purpose. Welcome dance, Sticks or “the mew”, Chichi dance, Crocodile dance and the Lemur dance. The women were very friendly and had some of us join them in dance as they served us their traditional breakfast of Malagasy cake (a very moist spiced cake & tea). The children were so happy, playful and loving and we had a great time communicating with them through song and dance and “patty cake”.
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    • Day 11

      Sole mare arrrriviamoo ☀️

      May 15 in Madagascar ⋅ ☀️ 30 °C

      Oggi prendiamo l'ultimo volo interno per raggiungere l'incantevole isola di Nosy Be. 🏝️ Inizia la parte della vacanza che entusiasma particolarmente Giuseppe: sole, mare ed emozionanti escursioni acquatiche nelle piccole isole circostanti. ☀️

      Arriviamo a destinazione nel primo pomeriggio e, considerando che il sole tramonta presto, decidiamo di trascorrere le ultime ore della giornata in spiaggia per goderci un po' di relax, fare qualche tuffo in piscina e partecipare a una sessione di acqua gym. 🏊‍♂️

      Dopo una cena leggera, ci ritiriamo presto in camera, pronti per alzarci presto la mattina seguente. La sveglia suonerà alle 06:30 e ci aspetta un'emozionante giornata in barca alla scoperta della prima isola del nostro tour. Non vediamo l'ora di immergerci nelle acque cristalline e di esplorare le meraviglie di queste isole paradisiache.
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