Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Vacation, Part 3: Living the Dream in Ifaty/Mangily & Tulear

The final bit of our vacation was spent on the beach. After 6 days of pretty intense hiking, we figured we should let ourselves relax a bit. We completely lucked out as some of the other travelers we met--Fabrice & Serge, 2 French brothers--had hired a driver & 4x4 and had 2 extra seats in their car. Rather than braving the always unpredictable taxi-brousse, we hitched a ride since we were all headed to the same destination: the beaches at Ifaty & Mangily, about 25km north of Tulear. (Thanks again, guys! You really saved us a miserable day of traveling!) We met a lot of other interesting travelers on this trip, and it was one of the first times in Madagascar that I did much socializing with other "vazaha" that weren't PCV's. Most of the time I've been in remote villages where vazaha tourists don't frequent, but even when I'm in town I'm usually so focused on getting work done/using internet/watching movies while I have electricity, or even just catching up with PCV friends, and I don't make much time to socialize. Part of why I like traveling is meeting people from all over the world--not just the locals of wherever I am. I realized I've really done a terrible job of keeping up my French language skills here in my attempt to learn Malagasy. I can still understand almost all of what is spoken to me, but I have a very hard time speaking French out loud myself; Malagasy comes so much more easily and I keep mixing up vocab and expressions. I should try to practice it more here, since it is widely spoken.
Anyway, we got to the beach Tisa and I settled into a cozy bungalow. The next morning we went snorkeling along with a pair of American tourists at some coral reef not too far from the beach. We hired a pirogue to take us about 45 minutes out into the water and snorkeled for a while. We saw all kinds of different fish (including some that looked like Gill from "Finding Nemo" (the guy with the scar in the dentist's tank) and some eels. It was very cool. I don't think I've ever actually been snorkeling in the ocean--only in middle school when I learned in the pool during phys ed. I'm not sure that really counts. For the rest of the day, we hung out in lawn chairs, drank cold beer, got our hair braided by Malagasy girls, and got 30-minute massages for $2.00. Pretty sweet deal. That night we watched a beautiful sunset and then went out for dinner. We both ordered crab--Tisa's sauteed in parsley, mine in a pimento sauce. DELICIOUS!!
The day after that we headed back to Tulear. After finding a hotel and booking taxi-brousse reservations for our journey back to Fianar the following day, we wandered around town. There wasn't much we actually wanted to do in Tulear, so we got very cheap massages again and ate absolutely DELICIOUS food. Tulear definitely had some of the best restaurants I've been to in Madagascar. In fact, lunch that day just may be the best meal I've had on the island: calamari steak in a mushroom cream sauce, along with garlic bread, sauteed veggies, a slice of avocado, and an absolutely delicious, GIGANTIC glass of ice cold natural fruit juice. It was really more like a smoothie. And all of it for the grand total of $7.00.
One of the things I have come to love about Madagascar is that it has so much to offer; it truly has something for every kind of traveler. If you've looked over all 3 posts from this vacation, you can see just how many things there are to see and do. There's very tough trekking for the truly adventurous, lots of fun wildlife, and great beaches/luxurious spots, and incredible food. While I've certainly had my share of frustrations trying to live and work on this island, it's certainly full of fun adventures while on vacation. I still have lots more I could post about recent adventures and work, but I'm not sure I'm going to have time to get anything else up before I need to head out of the city. I'll try to update things again soon! Love love.

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