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After a noisy night at Chez Maggie, we left early for our long drive to Bekopaka. This is by far our longest drive day. In the wet season, the road is impassable and closed. Now, in the winter (although it hit 38 degrees today) the drive can take 8, 10 or 12 hours depending on the potholes and washboard in the road.

Shortly after leaving town Miffy our driver stopped. We had a flat. With these roads we are a little surprised it’s our first. Miffy ‘flatly’ refused our help, so we stood around and watched. 20 minutes later we are good to go. Miffy has done this a few times we can tell.

Speaking of Miffy, he is quite chatty where Carl was quiet. We’ve learned he has solar power at his home and when he got a fridge he had to get a second battery. Fridges are power hogs, we know this from our motorhome days. He is missing most of his upper teeth and it’s obvious to us dentists are rare here. We have seen plenty of missing teeth and overbites, and very few fillings or evidence of dental care. Makes sense, given the economy.

Miffy is a good ambassador for Morondava though. And a pretty decent guide. His English is good but with a heavy accent. We all have to speak mora mora (slowly).

The road today is like our forestry roads at home. Meaning dirt and lots of potholes. This is a shot of the RN8 – a main road. Like a highway class main road. This is a fast “good” part.

It eventually reaches Tana after about a week of driving according to Miffy. But after Bekopaka it “gets rough”. We forded a couple door-sill deep puddles and it’s already dry season. The road closes during rainy season.

We saw a small turtle crossing the road. Miffy said this was the second time ever seeing that. He wasn’t sure why it was out here in the middle of nowhere. We figure there must be a hidden water source somewhere close by.

We also crossed a river twice via barge/ferry.

This is a shot of another ferry bringing people the other way. 3 cars per load.

We were asked to get out of the car for loading and unloading (safer that way?) and sat at the bow for the 45 minute crossing.

Hand cranked starter on an prop shaft Diesel engine. Primitive but functional and probably fairly bullet proof.

Pretty much every part of Madagascar grows rice. Although both Carl and Miffy have told us that most of the good quality, nutritious ‘red’ rice is mostly exported. They turn around and import crappy, cheap, poor quality rice from China, Taiwan and Iran. Too bad – these people could really use something nutritious.

On a better note, the area around the Tsiribihina River is ‘famous’ for growing spinach. It looks a little different than what we get at Safeway at home, but it is truly spinach. We both had pieces of crisped spinach on our lunch in Belo sur Tsiribihina.

After the first river crossing it was time for lunch. We were taken to the Mad Zebu (Mad Cow) tourist restaurant. Funny name, hope it’s not true. Although Kris had these huge shrimp/crayfish and Dave had duck.

Funny sign for toilets.

All in all the drive took about 8 hours today, which is not bad. We have rrived at yet another amazing place to stay. The Soleil des Tsingy is our home for the next 3 nights.

That is a piece of petrified wood carved into a sink!

Our bungalow’s private balcony overlooking the valley and river. Wow.

And our four poster bed.

And this place was a “splurge” at $80/night including breakfast and dinner. The other place was $40. Tomorrow we’ll try and get a daylight shot of the infinity pool overlooking the valley. This place is nice!

Tomorrow we head off to hike the small Tsingy and then back to that aforementioned pool.

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