And Now a Vacation!
I am sitting at the cafe of La Pirogue Hotel sipping my complimentary welcome drink: a concoction of rum and some sort of guava juice.
We left Ranomafana early this morning and made it to the ocean-side town of Mahambo by dusk. We only checked in a few minutes ago, but while Dan is taking a nap, I head down to the hotel bar to take in these new surroundings.
In front of me, as the sun sets over the Indian Ocean, a dozen or so Malagasy workers are building an outside bungalow, while Tony the bartender is serving cocktails to the ex-surfer owner of the hotel and his French friends. Beyonce is playing in the background. It’s an odd mixture of worlds and cultures.
While Mahambo’s beaches are as pristine as Mexico resorts, Madagascar as a whole is not inundated by tourists like Cancun or Venice. It holds onto its original charm. There’s nothing contrived here. In fact, most of our time in Mahambo, Dan and I will be the only guests at the hotel, and with the beach entirely to ourselves. There are no cheap trinkets for sale, no spring breakers, no tourist traps. A few days later, another guest arrives – Cat Deeley, the host of So You Think You Can Dance. Aside from some erosion, I imagine these beaches haven’t changed much in the last 100 years.
Later in the day, Dan and I take a two-hour walk down the beach. We pass a few local fisherman, some kids playing in the water, and finally find other tourists about an hour’s walk from our hotel. Seashells, not trash, cover the shore.
If this beach is any indication of the rest of Madagascar’s beaches, the world is missing out. The empty beaches go on for miles, and the only people we share the water with are the local fishermen. The waters are safe, too. This beach is protected by a natural coral reef.
Now, this is vacation. No hiking, no climbing, no planning, just a week of relaxing with the Indian Ocean as our backdrop.
Photos: Dan Plimpton