News from Madagascar on “SO BASIC” (1)

By – Hemraj Gokal

Since my last email it would appear that we too have unwittingly adopted the Malagash lifestyle attitude of “morė morė” (slowly-slowly). Adherence to lifestyle seems to be more important than work to the locals!!
We spent a few days at Mimoko – a secluded island with no infrastructure and only one small fishing village. Typical of isolated places, it gave one the impression of requiring a good clean-up. The locals, however, were friendly. Instead of the headman, the reconnaissance party found a really old guy who requested some fishing line, hooks. Needless to say Stuart rose to the occasion and added some clothing to the package. The following day the old guy ventured forth with fish which we politely declined.
Warm beer was the order of the day in what passed for the village pub (there is seriously no infrastructure here).
Unfortunately we did not find any local brewery and so had to forgo the pleasures of high-octane rum. Much of the time was spent just chilling, and fishing off the deserted beaches.
Dependant on wind direction, they light fires at dusk to see-off the mozzies and other noo-noos. This is easily understandable when one considers that Mimoko is the Malgash reference for Mosquito Bay. The anchorage is superb, which contributes to making it a great place to get away from the ‘madding crowd’.
The visit to Tany Kely was quite the opposite. It is a marine reserve bustling with tourists. No one is allowed overnight on the island. The area is well policed by the local gendarmerie and conservation department staff. An entry fee is charged with locals paying 25% of the tourist amount – a policy that we need to adopt quite rapidly in good old RSA.
The crystal clear water, beautiful coral, and magnificent sea life made this trip very worthwhile. The beach is superb and regularly cleaned. Splendid picnic lunches are laid on by the hotels and tourist companies for their guests – made our picnic lunch look a bit ‘spare’!!
Unfortunately we didn’t get to see much of the advertised wildlife. The walks were excellent with spectacular views from the hilltop and the abandoned lighthouse.
We are currently in Crater Bay preparing the boat for the voyage back to Durban on Saturday 28th. Our original preparation plans needed to be modified due to Independence Day holiday (26th June) which started around lunch time the day before. The joyous Wednesday night celebrations could be heard till very late at night.
Today (Thursday) we will be attending the beach party laid on by one of the beach pubs. Acceding to prior warnings, we have girded our livers accordingly. Tomorrow (Friday) will see us completing formalities, doing final shopping and preparation for an early Saturday departure. The current GRIB file promises fetching and reaching weather for the first two days. However, given your very recent experience with forecasts during Vasco, you will understand that we are not getting excited as yet.
We are budgeting twelve to thirteen days for the voyage back. All things being equal we hope to see you and the rest of the crowd early July.
Warm regards to all
Crew of So Basic