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Published: July 23rd 2017
Wow, so a lot has happened since the last update...
We decided we were well enough to head out on the bikes. We had asked a local guy who reportedly knew the roads very well and he assured us that our selected route could be done in a day by bikes. So feeling confident and ready to ride, we headed out of Morondava in the direction of Belo sur Mer around 6:30am. We caught the sunrise outside of town and really enjoyed the first 15 miles. Some of it on the highway with lots of other bikes and zebu carts, some of it dirt road through local villages and farms and a supersweet 'this is biking in Madagascar' river crossing. After the river crossing the next 10 miles or so were okay. Mostly rideable with short sections about every mile where we had to push our bikes through pretty deep sand. We stopped for lunch around 12:30pm, found some shade and checked our progress. Crap, only 25 miles of 62 completed. And it gets dark just after 5:30pm and vazihas should not be out alone in rural Madagascar much past dark...not really sure what to do, so we pushed on.
Over the next couple of miles the track became more and more sandy and we were moving slower than a walking pace. We took a break around 2:30pm realized we had only covered about 5 miles in 2 hours and we just felt defeated. We had a local contact in Morondava that may be able to help us, but without phone service that was null. We asked a couple passing local boys about using their phones, no service... dang. So Andrew decided to just give his phone a try and holy cow it worked! The amazingly helpful Gary (Remote River Expeditions) arranged a local guy to come to our rescue. We trudged on another couple miles to a meeting point near a dry river - the last 200 yard push 10" deep sand in the good spots - and we collapsed in the shade. Andrew was out of water, we'd spent 9 hours riding/pushing fully loaded bikes, we were salty, stinky and visibly dirty. While we were waiting for our rescue, Andrew decided (after 10 years), that this was the right moment. So sitting there next to the dried up riverbed after a grueling "ride," he proposed to me with
a reed tied together to form a ring. So romantic. Minutes later we were whisked away in our chariot (a completely stripped down 4x4 complete with shotgun, bullet rounds on a leather sling and 4 questionable local men). We arrived to Belo sur Mer just after sunset, found a lovely little beachfront bungalow and settled in.
We spent the next 3 days in Belo sur Mer. We read, wandered the quiet village, swam, coughed (still on the mend), kayaked, encountered a very crazy expat, watched the fisherman come in at sunset - amazing. On July 18th we headed out early in the morning on a motor pirogue - bikes loaded in the front of the boat and returned to Morondava. It was a salty, windy and chilly ride, but really lovely watching the surrounding sea and sand and fisherman. We met up with our new travel friend, Jason, back in Morondava and enjoyed a pretty chilled out day, sunset and night.
It was evident after all the struggle getting our bikes after their delayed arrival, the failed bike ride and added expenses that this trip just really did not want to be a bike trip. So we gave
in the the travel gods and bid adieu to our bikes. Our friend Jason happened upon a local driver headed in our direction, so we scored a super cheap ride to our next destination - Antsirabe. The ride was comfortable, quick (8 hours - would have been 14 by public transport), and cheap! We found a local hotel with a cute little roof top terrace and made ourselves at home.
We've spent the last 3 days here eating really good food, relaxing, wandering and taking in the local culture. Andrew and I rented bikes (felt weird spending money on bikes) and visited a couple nearby lakes, riding through villages and rural farmland. On a couple of occasions I was pretty bummed that this didn't work out to be a bike trip, but then again a lot of amazing things have happened and everything is working out just fine. We went to the big Saturday market and browsed the endless rows of stalls selling anything and everything. I never get tired of big local markets. It's Sunday morning and we are packing up our bags, the church music on the field below our room to entertain us, getting ready to head
back to Antananarivo.
This will be the last Madagascar post. We don't return stateside until August 4th, but are headed somewhere else for the last little bit...
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