10/16/2006, Nosy Tanihely
We checked out of Hellville on Monday and spent a quick night in Nosy Komba to do a little bit more souvenir shopping. After about two hours of bargaining, we ended up with two very nice tablecloths, place mats and a few other odds and ends. La Familia has also asked us to pick up two drums for them. The asking price was 80,000 Ariary (equivalent to about $40US), but I was able to get them down to 45,000 for the two. I am not typically a great bargainer, so I was quite proud of myself!
In the morning we headed over to Nosy Tanihely, a beautiful little island just five miles out. By day the island is popular with charter and dive boats, as there is a nice sandy beach and great snorkeling. We hiked up to an old lighthouse with Teresa and Ingve and then collected some wild mangoes and a jack fruit on the way back down. As there are no inhabitants on the island, we've been told that the fruit is up for grabs. The tour boats all leave in the evening, so we had plenty of room along with La Familia, Eagle Wing and Pamina.
John Sheppard's Resort
10/14/2006, Nosy Sakatia
We anchored in a small bay in the channel between Nosy Sakatia and Nosy Be. There is a beautiful house there built by a South African yachty who relocated to Madagascar years ago and recently opened this small guest house that he operates out of his home. We went for a great hike in the mountains behind the house, with the most diverse and beautiful terrain. It went from lush green to dry and rocky back to green. We could also view several white sand beaches from the top.
After the hike we stopped in at John Sheppard's for a sundowner. Being a sailor himself, John is quite popular with the yachties and is most welcoming. We were there with Freefall, Pamina and Gypsy Soul, and then joined by a couple of South African boats who were all most friendly, even giving us their contact info in S. Africa.
In the morning we went for a swim and then Axel made us a lovely Sunday brunch on Freefall. In the afternoon we kayaked over to a reef for some snorkeling before heading on to Nosy Taniheli for the night.
Nosy Sticky Mitsios
10/13/2006, Nosy Mitsio, Madagascar
Well, our bubble was burst on the security of possessions in Madagascar. Pamina's outboard motor was stolen off their beached dinghy while in eyeshot of us as we walked along the beach. Henrietta, Julie and I had motored in to the long isolated beach on the west side of the island to go for a walk. Conner had stayed aboard Pamina because he had a piece of coral in his foot.
We landed the dinghy directly in front where we were anchored and in plain view from the deck of both. We had walked about a quarter of a mile down the beach snapping pictures and revelling in Nosy Mitsio's beauty and isolation.
When we turned around to walk back to the dinghy we noticed that the outboard was missing. We rushed back. It was locked but it had been wrenched off the transom. We could see the foot prints of the perpetrators in the sand. We followed one set of foot prints to a couple of small shacks. We asked the people if they had seen our outboard motor but they were very evasive which is not typical of Malagasy from our experience. Clearly they had seen what had happened or possibly participated but were not going to help us either way. One of the girls was even laughing haughtily at the situation.
We asked to speak to the chief but they indicated that there were no chiefs which was not true. We walked to the village at the far end of the beach and were able to speak with the chief who spent four hours looking for us, but unfortunately had no luck. The next day an outboard powered pirogue approached and seemed to be offering a chance to buy the outboard back but in the end they were only asking for a handout and claimed to have no idea what had happened to the outboard.
When we looked at our photos from the hike that evening, the funny thing is that you can just make out a person standing over the dinghy while we were in plain view. Unfortunately it was not enough to go on.
We decided to leave as we did not feel comfortable at this anchorage anymore. It was just too bold a theft for us to relax anchored that far out in rural Madagascar. The situation is really unfortunate because we have talked with several boats who had nothing but good experiences in Nosy Mitsio. The scenery is stunning and the friendly locals had been eager to trade big lobsters for t-shirts and glass jars.
We are certainly going to be more careful now. While most of the locals are friendly and honest, which I have witnessed after unintentionally overpaying for an item, we must remember that most are very materially poor, largely through no fault of their own. It seems that for some an outboard is an irresistible temptation.