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We had a nice breakfast with our new lemur friends Charlie the Ringtail and Gaston the Common Brown. Charlie really needs to be named Julian. Dave got a few good cuddles with Gaston. He was the friendly one. Apparently Charlie sometimes bites. He liked Kris, or at least the pool water on her arm yesterday. Here is Charlie watching us eat breakfast.

Then it was off to airport, say good bye to Carl and board our flight to Tana. Turns out it was a small Embraier 145 regional jet.  Not a turbo prop or smaller. Dave has flown in those a bunch while flying domestically in the US.

The flight was just over an hour and we effectively retraced our steps back to Tana. Except this time in an hour instead of 6 days. We flew over the Isalo massif that we visited a few days ago. Nice to see from the air. You can see how long it is from up here.

We were picked up by Fidi our driver for this portion and a short 15 minutes later arrived at the Relais des Plateaux. We settled in a bit, had a nice relaxing lunch. This is the outdoor eating area next to the pool.

Then walked 1km into town to scope out the Shoprite for chocolate and maybe some local rum. We bought a little chocolate and will buy more when we come back to Tana later in the trip. No need to haul it around now when there is a Shoprite so close to our last hotel here. We will have some time at the end as we need to ensure we are back in town with enough buffer for the possibility of canceled flights. While the air industry is improving Air Madagascar is known for less than reliable scheduling. Even today, our flight said 1015 but we took off a little before 1000. Close enough.

Pool time. While it is a bit frustrating to have to have all this down time just to get places it is kind of nice to have down time to relax and do nothing on vacation. That is unusual for us on these kind of trips.

During our walk in town we were scouting for a place to eat. Nothing really spoke to us so we had dinner at the hotel restaurant. We had had a late lunch so shared an appetizer and main. A nice mustard and vinaigrette dressing salad. You’re not really supposed to eat anything that isn’t peeled or cooked but we’ve been here long enough and felt we could risk it. The main was Zebu steak and a “Trilogy of Tubercles” – meaning taro, sweet potato gnocchi and cassava. Tasty but starchy. Portions here are huge – not what you’d expect with a French influence. We really struggle to finish most meals and feel guilty about wasting food (we have learned how to say ‘we will share’ in French!)

Dave also noticed a house rum on the menu. It was in a vat on the bar and infused with a lemon, ginger and some less identifiable items. The waiter’s English was decent but neither of us fully understood what either was saying. Regardless it was worth trying. Once.

While we are doing our part to help the economy we do feel a little guilty and overly privileged to stay where we are while we see the locals with so much less. But our vacation money (and many other travelers’) is what is helping Madagascar grow it’s economy.

A bit of a tangent but we’ve been meaning to mention it. It is encouraging to see a lot of solar panels deployed. Some are very small, a handheld 4×6″ and some are much larger, 24″x36″. But many of the huts and houses we see have them. I guess when you bypass all the infrastructure we built in the 50’s and 60’s and jump right to modern day power options you can benefit. Silver linings? We still see lots of people smiling and going about their day. So while life must be hard here it’s not bad.

Tomorrow morning we head back to the airport to fly off to Morondava.

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