Malagasy villagers standing next to their wooden pirogues and sailboat in a small fishing village near Manompana on the east coast of Madagascar.
I gave up on trying to find my paddle, and tried to find a quiet stretch of beach to make camp; I wasn’t really in the mood for attracting a big audience that evening. But as I was racing through the surf towards the beach I saw some people pouring out of the trees and racing towards me, and they eagerly helped to drag my kayak away from the surf. Looking along the beach I could see a line of huts set back from the beach, and there were more people swarming towards me! Greetings ensued and then I started collecting firewood. I assembled a big pile of wood to be fed to the fire gradually whilst cooking my dinner and when I turned around I was horrified to see that they had set the whole pile ablaze; it was party time and the occasion called for a blazing bonfire to celebrate my arrival. It was time to chill out, so I relinquished any prospect of dinner and a quiet evening, and joined the party. I made tea and tried to find as many drinking containers as possible. Darkness settled and the crackling fire illuminated the circus of animated laughing faces around me. My phrasebook once again became the centre of attention and everyone wanted to have a go at trying to speak some English. The trials and tribulations of the day were soon forgotten amidst the laughter.
I camped near the village for a couple of days, doing more repairs and trying to heal my sores. I continued to be the centre of attention of the village, and many people stopped by to observe the strange piece of flotsam that had washed up on their beach. The apparent village leader milked me as frequently as possible for new English phrases. His big opportunity came when it was time for me to leave, and he put his newly learnt expressions into practice by giving a running commentary on my departure - “Duncan Murrell is leaving today and the sun is shining, it is not cloudy, he had a good time here” – all perfectly enunciated like David Attenborough describing the actions of a wild animal.
- Duncan Murrell
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- Contained in galleries
- Madagascar Journey