Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Madagascar

Madagascar, the island at the end of the earth, was for me one of these places on the map that I thought; “I’ll go there some day”. When is another question! The adventurous part of me has this need to put an imaginary flag-pin on the world map stating that “I’ve been there”. How we ended up with Madagascar as our destination this time was due to a 4 year old article in the Getaway magazine. After numbers of beers and whisky’s and brainstorming, that article came up in conversation. The concept of staying on a boat in Madagascar was such an appealing thought that we could not rid ourselves of the daydreams… so the ticket was booked!

I knew nothing about Madagascar other than that animated children’s/parent’s movie that came out a while ago. We rented that movie, so that we where familiar with King Julian and his Lemur friends on the island. I still felt obliged to find out more before going there… so I found some old National Geographic (NG) magazines in a second hand bookstore…. and dug up some of my old Getaway and Go magazines with articles on the place.

Baobab trees have quite cool shapes. Madagascar has got 6 different species although it is known as a mainland Africa tree. Only one species grow on African mainland though. If I’m lucky I might even see a Chameleon and King Julian in one of those trees… it’s an obvious attraction and an excuse to go! Ylang Ylang trees are also quite special! It’s like they suddenly start growing downwards again at about chest height. Henk and I cover the fields of botany, biology, marine biology, social anthropology and lots of other useful things, and could confirm for the ladies that these plants were trimmed to not outgrow the small and petite Malagasy people (reaching chest height)… very much like in a Japanese garden with those tiny little trees that needs constant trimming.

The people in Madagascar are Malagasy, a mix of Africans, Arabs, Malaysians and Indonesians that arrived about 1500 years ago… dugout canoe’s that drifted off maybe? Serious drifting that… from either direction!! In my October 1967 and February ’87 issue of NG I found that the population have increased from 6-10 mill people and to 19,5 mill people as per July 2007. That’s quite an increase!! President M. Philibert Tsiranana explained in an interview (1967) that he is against any form of birth control, and he said: “I want every Malagasy to have at least 12 children”. So there is an explanation to everything… It’s like the introduction of rabbits in Australia, or the Kamtchatka Crabs in Russia, or American lobsters in Norway… and drifters stranded in Madagascar.

I’m diving at Four Brothers - four rocks that look almost misplaced and funny the way they come up from the abyss. It reminds me strongly about rock shapes and islands that I’ve seen in Thailand in the Phuket/Krabi area. My theory is that those rocks where shaped millions of years ago when we still had the Pangea super continent. If you puzzle together the continents today, I’m pretty damn sure that James Bond island will be the 5th brother or so…

Madagascar is a place where they find a lot of fossils, so I bought one of those ammonite things... It’s an obvious souvenir from the place. Madagascar has some animal species that you won’t find anywhere else in the world like Lemurs and some Chameleons. They also had some prehistoric species like the Aepyornis (Elephant Bird) that was a bigger version of the Ostrich. It seems to be a place for a lot of odd creatures, live ones and fossilized ones. But imagine the diversity of the marine life around Madagascar? I’ve already caught Cuta and Sailfish whilst fishing, and seen lots of the colorful fishies whilst diving… What about that Megladon, the prehistoric big brother of the white shark? They say much of the marine life is yet to be discovered, so who knows if the Megladon is really extinct?! If it’s lurking around down there somewhere, then I’m sure Madagascar is the place! Maybe in the deeper end though, so I silently agree with the girls to stay in the calm and shallow water around the little islands. Diving and snorkeling should be safe there. With the possibility of Megladons in the water, I decide to not push “Floater” too much…


Oh, I can put another flag-pin on the world map now... but I still don't feel I have DONE Madagascar properly... only a small part of the northern tip, so I have to come back!!

4 comments:

hello, my name is danny. said...

wow! what a great adventure.

i am now truly inspired to plan a trip there myself, just to hear king julian and the lemurs sing! LOL

seriously, i've always wanted to visit the seychelles as well, so maybe i'll plan on doing some island hopping during a very, very, very extended vacation.

Louis Rossouw said...

Hi

Also took visited Madagascar. My blog post on it can be found here:
http://blog.spin.za.net/2007/08/photos-from-our-trip-to-madagascar.html

Also uploaded photos to flickr.

Cheers
Louis

Anonymous said...

ha, I am going to test my thought, your post bring me some good ideas, it's truly amazing, thanks.

- Norman

Anonymous said...

А! What a nice post. I really love reading these types or articles. I can?t wait to see what others have to say.