Today be me last day at sea! I’ll be moving on to another adventure soon.
An update on our movements is in order! We weighed anchor early on Saturday morning to head down the south coast in the Mozambique Channel. Our destination was Majumba, also known as Majunga and Mahajanga. This is a major port of Madagascar, the third largest in the country. Its location is in Bombetoka Bay, an inlet of the Mozambique Channel at the mouth of the Betsiboka River. It is the export center of all major Malagasy products. The city was founded by the Arabs in the 1700’s. They traded weapons, slaves, precious gems, spices and fabrics. It now trades mostly with Africa, Middle-East, Asia and Europe. Majumba has a population of over 250,000, with important Arab, Comorian, Chinese and Indian-Pakistanese natives’ communities. It is the most cosmopolitan region in Madagascar and the capital of the Mahajanga Province.
The area contains many Baobab trees. One iconic baobab tree located at the end of the Avenue de France, where it meets the sea promenade, is 15m tall and is said to be 1,000 years old. It has become the living symbol of the city. According to local tradition, new visitors should loop around the tree seven times to worship the ancestors and obtain their blessing.
The iconic baobab trees:
Today we visited a remote Malagasy island, Nosy Lava, with the ruins of a large prison. A small extended family inhabits the less dilapidated buildings, subsisting mostly of dried fish and a few ducks and goats.
The main gate:
The prison was a maximum security prison and sits right on the main beach of the island. The island itself is hilly on the interior and is surrounded be a nice reef. The story goes that a couple of prisoners escaped, swam out to a sailboat that was anchored near the island, and killed the couple on board. That is said to have happened in 1991. The prison was shut down shortly after the escape incident.
This pier served the prison, likely for brining in supplies. I was told the pier was in use until 2003 and it surprised me that the concrete and stone structure has not fared better.
Our personal "guide"....he requested only some used pantalons....and a bottle of rhum.
I judged him to be already quite "lit". In his defense it WAS after five o'clock.
I judged the following to be a once lovely building with wooden porches all around...perhaps the Commandant’s residence...most of the wood long since rotted away. You can see a side of it and the columns in the image of the main gate as well.
Speaking of rhum! I believe this may be the remnants of what was likely the officers’ bar. It’s now rather empty, save for some interesting graffiti. There be mermaids!!!
In the image below, you can see how much nature has taken over in the last 25 years or so. This was once a prison cell.
After a long day sailing and exploring, we found a restaurant run by an amazing French-Malagasy woman in a small town across from Majunga. We asked she prepare Malagasy dishes for eight, her choice, for a 7pm dinner. We were her only guests at her small bungalow “resort”. She made for us grilled lobster, wild boar in sweet potato sauce, shrimp in ginger sauce, grilled zebu in wine sauce, cooked seaweed, mixed fresh vegetables, fried mango dessert and Malagasy coffee. We also enjoyed THB, Three Horses Beer, an excellent local brew.
For those curious pirates out there, a zebu, also known as indicine cattle or humped cattle, is a species or subspecies of domestic cattle. They are characterized by a fatty hump on their shoulders, a large dewlap and sometimes droopy ears. Here’s what a zebu looks like:
My sailing of the high seas of Madagascar adventure has come to a close. I’m saddened greatly, but know there will be new adventures coming my way soon! Check back again soon for more tales!
Capt Ben Blood
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