Wow! Teetering on Bathroom bay, did the earth move!
Nosy Komba otherwise known as Nosy Ambariovato
My first impression of Nosy Komba, a volcanic island, was its pyramidal shape with the top cut off. It was rocky but smothered in vegetation. It looked like there were no inhabitants and had no sandy beaches. I found out Ambariovato means surrounded by rock. Go figure!
It was slightly bigger than some of the islands we explored although there still aren’t any roads or vehicles on this island and neither was there electricity. I’m sure times have changed.
Having spent ten days on board Bossi, exploring glorious islands, fishing, diving, snorkeling and swimming it was time to spend the last few days on land in Madagascar. It was a culture shock to be dumped albeit willingly on this island where very little English was spoken. Our safety net was pulled out from under us. Here we experienced a different side of Madagascar; a more rural one.
Gone were the pristine beaches
We moored in a bay which had a sandy beach, although not pristine like we had experienced the last few days. It seemed to be the bathroom of the island. Teetering and tip toeing, we made our way across it. Tucked away in other parts of Nosy Komba, there were a few more little bays but not easy to get to.
Budget accommodation replaces luxurious catamaran
Our accommodation was in the heart of the village of Ampangorina in a little place consisting of reed huts. It was very basic inside, but clean and came with mosquito nets which were essential. We wanted to lock our valuables and bags away in the room, only to find there were no doors or windows.
Nosy Komba was totally off the grid. There was no electricity and no running water. Ablution facilities at our accommodation were nil - the toilets flushed by means of a tin and bucket system. We used a similar process for our showers. They were geared up to a certain extent for foreign visitors, but in 1998 the tourist trade was only just developing again in Madagascar. Madagascans hadn't even heard of cell phones yet.
Prosperous Curio trade
We still felt as if we were on a boat and we weaved our way through the narrow streets, looking like our alcohol consumption was extremely high. It took us a while to find our land legs again and the worst was when we bent over to gaze at curios displayed on the sand. The earth really moved under our feet. We gawked at beautifully embroidered tablecloths and creative masks. The boys even bartered with their T-shirts and other items of clothing for a few nick-knacks and were thrilled with their trading skills.
We went to a small restaurant for some lunch that was cooked on fire on top of a unique tiny stove. I’m sorry I never took a photo of it. We thought we would walk around the rest of the hilly island after lunch. Food was simple and tasty but took ages to prepare. I’m sure they still had to catch the fish, before they served it to us. We could have walked around the whole of Nosy Komba and still have been back in time for lunch, and it wasn't such a tiny island! Because lunch took so long, we couldn’t explore as much as we wanted to.
Lemurs of Madagascar
Everyone knows the island as lemur island. Islanders and other tourists constantly feed them, so we bought a few bananas and did the same. They are such exceptional little creatures, looking at you with their teddy bear eyes as soft paws grip your fingers to grab a piece of banana.
We went for a swim, as we were getting withdrawal symptoms and it was so hot and humid, but the clarity of the water was not like it was at the other islands – it was close to a mangrove swamp. Still, we thoroughly enjoyed it and we made sure it was far away from ‘Bathroom Bay’ although it looked suspiciously similar.
Cheapest budget breakfast
After having a fitful night of sleep, we could only get some strong black coffee for breakfast. We had to provide our own food, as the restaurant did not serve breakfast. All that we could find was some French bread and a tin of sweet condensed milk from a small grocery store. By no means a health breakfast, but the boys were thrilled to spread condensed milk on bread. We used the rest of it for our coffee. Sounds like real budget accommodation and meals, but we had an adventure.
After breakfast it was time to head back to Nosy Bé and the cheapest and best way for us to cross the water was by motorized pirogue. The four of us, plus another passenger and the skipper squeezed on one of those narrow little boats, complete with all our bags. The seating was definitely not the most comfortable and to this day it is still imprinted in our sons’ minds and bums! They had to sit on hard narrow cross beams. It was the experience that counted but I’m sure they’ve never forgiven us.
Heading to Hellville
We headed for the harbour in Hellville, but the tide was low by the time we got there. The jetty was on the other side of sticky mud. We had no choice but to squish our way through it. Once we reached dry land, we couldn't find a tap or water anywhere to wash our feet.
We hailed a taxi to take us to a hotel. The taxi driver looked at our feet with disdain, and gesticulated that we couldn't get in the taxi. He took pity on us, though, and provided a hand broom. There was no way he was letting us enter his taxi with such dirty feet! We tried our best to brush off the semi dry mud, but we still left a trail behind.
Next on the agenda: Exploring Nosy Bé.
I see there is far better accommodation on Nosy Komba these days. Take a look at Airbnb
I’ve also read that they have cleaned up Ampangorina. If you understand French, here’s the article. (Then you can translate for me)