Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Cashews, cacao and a coastline

We woke early the next day, and hit the road again with Marshall and Zeze. Fairly quickly, though, we hit some pretty heavy traffic.

Along the road, we encountered families selling roasted cashews. We stopped to get some, and if I did not mention it in my Mozambique posts, I mention it here: Freshly roasted cashews - I mean "freshly" as in they are still warm and not long off the tree - are absolutely heavenly!

These kind folks were making them, and from them we purchased a quantity that turned out to be woefully inadequate. They demonstrated the art to us, and I only wish I had asked if I could try! I also wish I had gotten all of Zeze's explanation instead of turning the camera away from him... (oops).

At the repeated risk of repetition, as it were, the sights along the way were splendidly spectacular...

Have I mentioned that much of the Madagascar countryside is lush beyond belief?

We even visited a plantation where they grow vanilla, cinnamon, cacao and other spices and fruits.

Here is what cacao looks like on the tree (yes, that is the bginning of chocolate):

Zeze even got one of the cacao fruits for us, cut it open, and let us try the inside. Each seed is encased in a bit of really tart fruit that is enjoyable to suck on (not much flesh to it to eat). Who knew? This is bread fruit:

Bread fruit gets absolutely huge on the trees. And the plantations themselves, where all these wonderful things grow, are perfectly green and shady...

And, of course, we were not done chameleon spotting!

I do not know if I was more entertained by the chameleon, or these kids who were watching from across the street were more entertained by me...

We eventually came to the end of our time with Zeze and Marshall as we arrived in Ankify (an-KIFF-ee), a small town on the western coast:

In Ankify, we transferred from our vehicle to the taxi station:

Here is one of the taxi "drivers", catching a brief rest during an otherwise hectic day. And I do mean hectic. The taxi station was chaos. Various "porters" trying to "help" people get their bags to various boats, which sit until they are full (over full, really) before they leave, with no set schedule at all...

Eventually, though, we set off to our next destination:

Along the way, we occasionally slowed, apparently just to admire the view:

At one point, though, we actually picked up some passengers who had to wade out to the boat... A whole different style of public transportation, to be sure!

Eventually, we landed in Hell-ville (ehl-VEEY), the largest town on the island of Nosy Be (noh-SEE BAY). We had even more trouble with "porters" here, fighting to hold onto our bags (and not always winning - we had to take them back by force at one point) until we reached the cab that had been sent to meet us. Nonetheless, Hell-ville seemed a colorful place and could have been worth exploring if we had had the time:

But, alas, we had another place to be, so off in our taxi we went, traversing the island on our way to Anjiamarango:

When we arrived at Anjiamarango, we were greeted by the owner, Monique, and some of her staff, with glasses of freshly squeezed fruit juice and damp cloths to wipe off the travel. (No, really.)

Then we were escorted to our private bungalow. The view from it looked like this:

The view into it looked like this:

And moving about a bit, it looked like this:

Unfortunately, the video recording was interrupted when Roger (roh-ZHAY), the on site chef, came to take our dinner order. (No, really.) In fact, one of the dishes he prepared for me was a banana curry I enjoyed so much I have since duplicated it here at home. He also baked a special batch of vegan bread just so I could have some with my meals like everyone else...

Anyway, back to the view. Looking down the beach from our bungalow:

Or just out across the water:

That afternoon and evening, we just relaxed and enjoyed a marvelous meal and a stunningly beautiful sunset:

We had found our own little paradise, just off the coast of Madagascar, where the waves are a quiet constant symphony, the breeze never completely stops, and even time seems to relax...

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