Our driver in Morondava unfortunately shows up late, and by the time we have done our shopping and taken our gasoline for the next days, the sun is already well on its way down. Soon after we leave town, we turn onto a piste, knowing we will not see asphalt for the next five days. The going gets tough quickly, and before we know it, we are driving through rivers, over sandy roads, and through small villages. On one occasion, we get stuck in the mud. The driver does what he can to get us out, but the wheels keep spinning without finding a grip. A passer-by with an axe helps us out by cutting some wood, while others stand by to watch what will happen. They even have the nerve to ask for money when we finally make it, our white car full of mud. The sun sets, and we are driving through flats, past clusters of baobabs we find more beautiful than the over-hyped Baobab Alley, and when we finally reach the shoreline of Belo sur Mer, the sky is deep purple, about to turn black.
After a very pleasant night, we start out early the next morning, and see that the tide is low. Fishermen carry their colourful handmade pirogues to the water, and start rowing where the water is deep enough. We start out for a walk, cross shallow water to reach a sandbank, where we take a closer look at the brightly painted pirogues. The fishermen proudly pose. Some of them lift a pirogue, and carry it down to the water. Further out in the sea, we see square sails above the pirogues. We continue to walk along the shore. On the way, we meet villagers: a woman with tabaky, a protective layer of the bark of masonjoany tree and water, kids playing in the low tide, some equipped with fishing nets, some looking for a catch with their bare hands. Low tide is the best time for scavenging the exposed sand. When we walk through the water back to shore, we see a few tall ships aground, tilting with their masts, reflected in the little water left. The difference between low and high tide must be big.
We see several new ships in the making: wooden skeletons on the sand, carpenters hammering away at this early hour. Given the raw material they use, and the limited utensils they must have, we admire the craft of these people to produce such beautiful ships. We hear singing from the little white church while we continue our walk on the beach. During our breakfast, we enjoy the view of pirogues coming by, while we notice that tide is coming up fast. Afterwards, on our way south, we pay a visit to the salt pans, where people work hard to extract salt from the earth that is seasonally flooded by the sea. Their black bodies are in stark contrast to the blinding white of the salt. Neat heaps of salt wait for collection, and while doing so, reflect perfectly in the shallow water of the pans. Men are digging small canals to guide the water to dry pans. Small dykes have been built to contain water, let the sun do its work, and evaporate the sea water to extract the prized salt. When we drive away and leave Belo sur Mer behind, we are very happy to have stopped here on our way south.
Around the World in 80 Clicks
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Belo sur Mer (Madagascar). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Belo sur Mer. Read more about this site.