Saturday, October 24, 2015

Majunga/Mahajanga Oct 2015

A cropped shot of the zoomed in photo of the red and white sculptured sandstone cliffs on the way to Majunga/Mahajanga.  They were gorgeous and I really wished I had a big zoom on a fancy camera for these.  
But you can get the idea.  Some cliffs were white sandstone.

 Another view of some red and white cliffs.  They remind me of the Anazazi cliff dwelling sites.
Pretty amazing natural formations, I think.  Looking through the binoculars, they looked stunning!
I would've loved to stop and explore the area, but there was no bay to anchor in and we were pushed for time to reach a safe anchorage in the daylight.

One last view of another section of coastline.
In Majunga, there were dozens of the local dhows that went out in the morning and returned in the afternoon with the alternating winds.  We were in the center of the parade most of the day.  Great entertainment to watch these guys sail these boats.
A bigger dhow or gullet with three sails.  He went into the small craft harbor that we were anchored outside of and the little guys go further down the bay and sit on the mud when the tide goes out.
Even the big boats have some old sails that always seem to need mending.  But they keep on sailing.
Some need a bit more mending than others!  I wonder how they even sail without shredding.  Note the guy way out on the outrigger to keep the boat flat in the water.  Probably a nice place to ride back on, too.

The view of Majunga from our anchorage in the bay outside the local boat harbour.
A big intersection in Majunga.  The sticks on the roof of the building are scaffolding for work being done on the roof.  The town is old but not much of it is in use.  Notice there is no traffic really.  Lots of abandoned buildings here.
These man-powered rickshaws are still used to transport goods around town.
A nice old building that has been taken car of and is now in use as a hotel, but not many people here visiting just now.
Jason walking by an old building that hasn't been taken care of or restored.
Jason on a cannon in a park with a monument.
An old Citroen car sitting waiting to be repaired.
Another old building that has been abandoned in Mahajanga.
And another that has been kept as a hotel.
Karen and a spiny baobab planted outside a hotel.
The colored rickshaws are for carrying people.
The local boat harbor at low tide.  All the boats just sit on the mud until the tide comes back in .  Very colorful boats and they seemed to string lines across the harbor so we had to be very careful coming in with the dinghy not to catch one of them as we crossed over it.
With the low tide, everyone sits in the mud.  We could only use the dinghy landing space for a couple of hours before and after high tide each day.  Otherwise, we had to step into the muck and trash at the edge and dodge concrete blocks and rebar sticking out of the shallows with our dinghy motor.  And since the water was orange with mud, that could be tricky.
Bundles of raffia hanging on a fence to dry in the sun.
A bundle of raffia tied up to dry on the shore.  They use the stuff to weave and make many handicrafts like baskets and cute little animals.
The dinghy sitting on the landing.  A boat boy (one recommended by other cruisers) would help us drag the boat up and back to/from the water and he expected payment for his help and for watching over our dinghies.  We gave him ten DVDs and a case to hold them and he still wanted money to eat.  All the dinghies on our last day discovered their gasoline had been stolen from the dinghies while they were on shore and we decided not to go back in and pay the guy.  He obviously was part of the theft event and we think his friend acted as lookout to make sure no yachties were coming down the road.  We found him sleeping in the shade of the big boat one day.  Since the dinghies were well hidden from sight behind this boat on the left, it was an easy opportunistic theft.  The pilfering through the dinghy compartments was evident in another dink and we decided we were leaving the next day and just pulled ours out of the water to ready it for passage.  Too bad the guys we paid to watch them were also thieves.  We'd been warned of thefts and beatings experienced by other yachts here earlier, but we'd felt pretty safe here.  It's an interesting town with some great bargains on really excellent souvenirs, but we used up all our Ariary money and are heading south to await a weather window to head to South Africa.
While the men took care of the business with the Port Captain/Harbor Master and got us new clearance papers, the women went shopping and photo taking.  I loved the intricate carving down the center of the door and the molding on this entry way.
 Karen next to a bale of raffia coming or going on one of the boats.
 The pile of raffia bales and the boats in harbor.
 Notice the tilt with the boats sitting in the mud at low tide.  There is actually a man under that bale of raffia coming off the boat int he center.  We had a beer crate like the ones shown here, but that too was stolen from our dinghy on our last day in town.
 Coconut vendors across from the boats.
 These are crates of tomatoes going to the market vendors.  No wonder some of them get smashed.  But I did buy nice tomatoes at the market this day.
 A lady making and selling charcoal just across the street from the harbor.
 An old abandoned building from 1917, with small children playing by the wooden rickshaws.
 Ever seen a cement toilet before??  They had cement sinks, too.
 A man grinding beef into hamburger behind a fruit stand in the market.  Note the flies on the cabbage.
 One of the beef butcher stands in the market.
 A colorful souvenir stand with lots of woven and wrapped raffia items.  The animals are made from raffia wrapped many times around to form layers.
 More tough, muscle-bound guys grinding meat into hamburger.  They were showing off with how fast they could turn the grinder.
 These women headed towards us in the middle of the street in front of one of the big supermarkets here in Mahajanga.  They carried bananas, mangoes, pineapples and melons in the tubs on their heads.  We bought a bit from them before moving on.
 The 'makeup' on their faces may indicate which tribe they are from.  It may also be a way to keep the sun off.
 Once we were done, they put their wares back on their heads and crossed the road to carry on with their selling.
A sunken ship at the wharf in Mahajanga.  We think one of its lines must've broken when the wind blew and it just rolled at the wharf, tipped and sunk.  Men were working to cut it up while we were there.  We had to move out of the protection of the breakwater when a cargo ship came in so they could use tugs and barges to offload the containers of stuff.  They didn't want the barges weaving between yachts, so we all moved out of the way.

 Crystal Blues silhouetted in the sunset as we enjoyed sundowners on YOLO our last night in Majunga.

Moramba Bay Oct 2015

We tacked up into this bay, across the shallow, narrow channel.  We had to go in past the karst islands to find the other boats anchored back in the back bay.  On the islands were lots of baobab trees.  These giant trees, aka bottle trees or upside down trees because their branches look like a root system in the air were scattered on the islands.  Here is Karen showing the size of one of the big ones on the beach.
These baobabs are growing right out of the rocks!
A canoe on the beach where we went for a walk.
These baobabs remind me of the angry apple trees in The Wizard of Oz movie.
The cool squiggly marks in the bark were interesting on this tree.

What a gnarly growth pattern these things have.
They come in different colors and textures, too.
The karst/limestone islands seem to hang above the water at low tide, creating overhangs of sharp rock.
The islands look like mushrooms.
Lots of holes , arches, and crevices in the porous rock creates interesting designs up close.
A hole in the rock of one of the islands we passed coming in to anchor.
You could look right under the ledges of rock and see out the other side.
The water washes away the rock underneath until the island collapses.
This one looks ready to topple sometime soon.
This one has a cave that you can get into at high tide.  It's supposedly a burial cave.
A skull of a zebu cow has been placed at the entry to the cave.  We won't go in it.  Rumor has it there may be human remains further into the cave, but we don't know anyone who went in to validate that rumor.
Up a small river tributary to see what is up there.
More baobabs on the beach.
Jason and the crew from Sage help a local carry his dugout canoe up above the high water line.
A spiny baobab growing right next to another kind of baobab tree.  The light grey one has spines all over it.
A local left his knife hanging in the tree and his workstaion sitting on the sand.  The shell on the right is a huge oyster.  They have very thick shells here.
Some of the big shells laid around th ebase of a spiny baobab.
The flower blossom at the top of a spiny baobab.
Mangrove mud with roots growing up out of the ooze.  They remind me of soldiers marching across a field.
The 'resort' on one of the islands around Moramba Bay.  It had a pretty low roof.  I like the twisted topknot of thatching on the roof.
Inside the central room in the resort. Lots of VHS video tapes and a few books in different languages.
A big turtle shell in one corner of the room.  They still eat turtle here once in a while.  I've seen several shells recently taken from a turtle.
The resort has a solar oven!
This is Zaree.  She and her son, Eddie, came to the beach in their canoe to take the fish out of their net.  She had a bit of fruit and veges and told us she was from Village #3 and to come there if we wanted produce.
More big baobab trees.  They are just so unusual.
Eddie, Zaree and their canoe.  YOLO is anchored in the background.
We're off on a dinghy tour of the islands.
The river edge is rocks and trees and changes to mangroves.

It's usually pretty dry where you find baobab trees and this is no exception.
The tides go out a long ways on these shallow beaches.  Those are dinghies in the background, with Tony and Jason walking up to catch up to the rest of us .
Inland a bit is where the lemurs were found in the trees ahead.  The kids had scared them away the days before and they weren't here when we walked this far.  It was so hot we decided not to search for them.  They were probably resting somewhere in the shade like we should've been.
A smooth-barked baobab tree.
More gnarly tree growth, with lots of birds in this one.
A limestone island with exposed pillars of rock.
This green bird had sharp angles on it everywhere.  It looked like a swallow, but we don't know what it really is.
More fanciful trees on the rocky islands.
The smoke from a big fire burned for days while we were here.  Unfortunately, we see far too many forest fires burning on the mainland here.  You could see the orange glow from the burn at night and the winds in the mornings and afternoons just whipped the fire up daily.
Village #2 had the most people in it and we took bagfuls of stuff to give away.  Everyone here got something--a t-shirt, an empty bottle of container, needles, thread, soap, etc.
Even empty snack canisters were snatched up as treasures by these folks.  
A beach from one of the villages.
A baobab tree with lots of bird's nests in it.
A close up of a birds nest in a different tree.
This is Zaree and her family in Village #3.  We took more stuff to them to give away and generally got some mangoes in return.
They quick-roast these little fish on the fire and then toss them on the roof to dry in the sun.  Dried fish is a staple here.
They were building a new canoe and a new bigger dhow in the village.
The bow of the dhow.  Notice how thick the timbers are.
The inside of the dhow being built.  They will make up some concoction to try to seal the seams, but they are never waterproof and the bucket will probably go to sea when this is launched to bail the boat.
Another view of the village.  Very simple and very poor people here.
Jason with the kingfish we caught.
He tossed the carcass back out as bait but we reeled it back in shortly as we realized we wouldn't want whatever could eat that for bait!
We tucked into a small bay on the way further south and these guys were cleaning their fish at the water's edge.  They put them in big bags and hauled them up the beach.
A big dugout canoe laid on its side up on the beach here.  This beach had lots of shells and lots of smooth, rounded pebbles of quartz.  Unusual and different from most beaches we'd seen here so far.
The red color doesn't really show up well when I zoom in from sailing over a mile off the shore, but the sculptured cliffsides were stunning along this stretch of shore.
A Spanish Mackerel we caught.  We filled our freezer with fresh fish while sailing along this coast.  Our friends on Saol Eile actually had one of these fish jump onto their boat one night!  It was being chased by something big that bit its tail and made it jump ot of the water. It landed on their coachroof and they were quick enough to catch it before it flapped itself back into the water.  Catching fish without even putting a hook or line in the water is a first for us to hear about!  they'd caught so many fish that they shared the jumper around with the other boats in the anchorage at the time.  Yummy.
Some of the bits of Spanish Mackerel that were left on the carcass after a quick fillet job ended up being marinaded and hung to dry for a nibbly snack.  Bigger chunks would be called 'biltong' in South Africa, but I just made a few as Jason doesn't really like the stuff.