After two short and restless hours of broken sleep, I finally decided to give up on rest and begin packing my bag for the next part of our trip…two days of pure bliss and relaxation at Bush House Lodge on Madagascar’s East Coast. We met our (groggy) team for breakfast at 6am and were on the road by 7. Most of us had only slept 3 or 4 hours after the previous night’s celebrations, but I think we were all pretty excited to get to the coast.
The journey ahead was supposedly 3 hours of driving followed by a 1 hour boat ride. In true Madagascar style, the roads were windy, uneven, full of huge trucks and made the majority of our crew pretty carsick. We had to stop several time to take breaks and rearrange people in the vehicles. Honestly, I can’t believe how well my stomach has been handling this whole trip so far. All of it. Normally the food and the driving would send me into a downward spiral of nausea and sickness, but I’ve been doing really well.
We arrived to meet our boat around 1pm, and after most of us had to hastily re-pack our “weekend bags” in the blazing mid-day sun, we were on our way. The boat ride in was absolutely stunning. We are in a place called the Pangalanes Lake, which is connected to the Pangalanes Canal – over 600km long. After a quick pit stop at the beach on the Indian Ocean, the boat ride took us along the canal, through narrow mangroves, and finally to the white-sand beaches of the lake where our resort is.
The water is crystal clear, extremely warm, and seldom any deeper than my waist. The resort is built into a hill, with lots of stairs and winding trails connecting the bungalows and tents that will serve as our home for the next few days. My room is a canvas tent with a net-covered king size bed and an open bathroom with a window that is wide open to the jungle outside. I love it. I remember being somewhere similar to this a few years ago – Viking Nature Resort in Thailand – and being totally freaked out about the openness of it all. Now, I love it. I actually wish I could live like this all the time. It’s amazing how things change.
In the main part of the resort, there is a restaurant and a seating area, complete with a bookshelf made from half a canoe, and a hammock that overlooks the dock and the lake. The power is turned off here all day, and most of the night as well, so we really are quite isolated and disconnected. There is no wi-fi. Even those who have SIM cards for their phones have a hard time getting reception. It’s perfect. Exactly what I need right now.
After lunch this afternoon, the rest of the group went Kayaking, but I stayed behind to do some reading and writing on the beach. This new, slow pace is delicious. As the day came to a slow, lazy end, we all walked to a rooftop lookout point to watch the sunset. It was breathtaking. Exactly how you’d picture an “African Sunset” to be. After dinner, I was done. This whole two hours of sleep thing is finally catching up with me, so I came back to my tent fairly early while the rest of the group plans to stay up for a while. Something tells me I’m going to sleep like a comatose sloth tonight.
We plan to spend tomorrow completing our video diaries of our experiences in the rural villages, visiting Palmarium Nature Park to see some lemurs, and, hopefully, getting some quality relaxation time in. I know we could all use it after the incredibly hectic, but completely amazing, week behind us. I want to get up nice and early and head for a run along the beach, because I haven’t been running at all since arriving in Madagascar. My legs are begging for some love, so my alarm is set for 7am, and hopefully I can get a few kilometres in before it gets too hot!