Woke up at 1am, it was raining. Slowed a bit when I woke at 3, but was still raining when I got up at 6:15. Breakfast was egg and rice. Eggs were good and I ate some of the rice. Today is teacher training. This is done by the students, so I just need to listen. Should be 6 teachers at the first school at Ambohitsara. Still raining at 8:15. Should have had the students go over several of the ideas before with just me, they were a bit lacking on a couple of details. Rain stopped before we were done. Back to the camp early, maybe 9:30 or so. I read for an hour and a half before lunch. Stomach felt a bit funny so I didn’t eat much of my zebu and rice. It did have potatoes and carrots so I did eat those. I even finished off a banana before calling it quits. Stomach wasn’t getting worse, so I thought I would just go check the email. I did get a short nap in. Got up at 1:40 and we headed to Fotobohitra for the teacher training there. Bigger group, with 13 people here, most of which I have not seen before. Two more showed up a bit later.we were out of there about 4:45. Back to camp. Played on the Internet a bit and traded several texts with Antje. Dinner about 5:30, it was better with spaghetti and ground zebu. No tomato sauce, but it still tasted ok. I managed to tell the cook only a small portion as my stomach didn’t feel normal. I did eat most of what I got. Sat around and talked with the guys for 30 minutes or so before brushing teeth and heading back up to the loft. Internet wasn’t working very well and called it a night about 7:45.
Up at 6:00 traded a couple of text messages with Antje. Didn’t sleep that well, air mattress just doesn’t do it. Breakfast was rice and some sort of mixed veggies. Looks like we will evaluate the two schools for next year. We stopped at the first school master about 8:00, she had face cream on and asked if we could come back in an hour. We went on down to Kianjavato and picked up muff balls for a snack and walked around on the street again. Watched a guy push a cart with a pig that had been gutted on it. Just then a taxi bus came through and ran over a rooster. Someone picked it up and I am sure it will be dinner. Back to the school close to our camp. It took a bit less than an hour to get the information for next year. Back to camp by a bit after 10:00. I read till lunch was zebu and rice with a carrot salad. This time the beef although a bit tough, tasted like the beef you would expect. Ate some of the rice. Stomach felt much better than yesterday. After lunch read a bit more until about 1:45 so we could go evaluate the other school for next year. The next evaluation went rather quick. We also stopped by both of the schools to clean up a couple of things. Back at camp by 4:15. Traded text messages with Antje, helped Steph with a techie type phone problem then headed to dinner. Dinner was sausage, beans and rice with a banana for dessert. It was ok. Headed to the shower.
Water was cool, air temperature wasn’t bad, didn’t wash hair, the rinse is difficult and I wasn’t that dirty. Back to the loft about 7pm. Texted with Antje for a bit then went back to my tent and finished Neverwere. Crashed about 9:15.
Up a couple of minutes after 6, needed to unlock the gate so they can get their stuff. Breakfast was eggs and rice. A quiet day is expected so I started reading on the Kindle. Libby was headed out to pick up the bread we ordered yesterday, and I tagged along. I took a few photos of the bakery. The rolls we picked up were kinda like cinnamon rolls without cinnamon. He also asked if we wanted to look at some stones that were mined about 9K from here. He brought out a couple of small bags. They were very low grade rubies. Similar to what I got at the gem show. He wanted 50,000 for the 4 larger ones and we gave him 40,000 ($18), he was happy. I got one of the stones. Back at camp, a vender was selling gold and I picked up an earring for Antje. I think they were made in Manancary. Just killed time till lunch. Lunch was rice and sausage with some carrots and green beens on top. It was ok clouded up a bit, hope it doesn’t rain. Read a bit more then traded a couple of texts with Antje as she was on an early morning walk. At about 2:30 we headed over to the Kianjavato school for an evaluation of last years system. It seems to get a lot of use by both the students and the teachers after class especially in the winter months. He demo of the 12V adapter failed and I didn’t bring anything to debug it with me. We will come back on Saturday to fix it. Suspect the connector wire pulled out. Back to camp. They were running the generator so we quickly plugged in everything that needed charging. That included the iPad so texting was delayed a bit. Dinner was chicken and rice. The chicken was brought in earlier today live. It tasted ok, but was rather tough. There was some of the carrot salad on the rice so I ate that and some of the rice. Kate and Steph were having computer problems so assisted with what I could. Couldn’t help Steph, hers is a Windows box, Kate’s machine was a rather new mac with a cracked display. Not sure what hers was doing, it worked better for me, but it still has issues. Called it a night about 8:30.
The alarm (not mine) went off at 5:45. Getting very tired of a tent and air mattress, but it will be fine for two more nights. Breakfast was soggy rice with a large scoop of peanut butter on it. I ate most of the peanut butter but didn’t eat much of the rice. We decided that the morning rice is actually last nights dinner rice. We jumped into the vehicles and headed back to Kianjavato. This was our day to follow the volunteers into the rain forest to track lemurs. We were only going with them for a couple of hours starting at 6:30. Some have radio tracking so they were not that hard to find. The have been followed for quite awhile so they mostly ignored us. When we found them, they were still balled up sleeping. After 45 minutes or so they started to move around and I managed to get quite a few photos. At one point, a couple came down within 5 ft of me and basically waited for me to take a few photos. The forest is hilly and the trails are very vertical. It was raining a bit in the morning so everything was slick. The humidity was right at 100% so I was having a hard time not fogging up the camera or even my glasses. Back to camp by 9:15. We packed up and were off again to Manakara. It is about a 2 hour drive east and south of Kianjavato. We needed to check out the place as a source of stuff. Then it was lunch on the beach and I managed to put my feet in the water. It was mid 70s with a nice ocean breeze. The sand was a bit funny, very large grains, very soft. Lunch was steak and fries. Even had a beer with lunch. We needed to head back about 2:00 but lunch here like everything else takes forever. We didn’t get on the road till almost 3:00, and with a stop for gas, it as after 3 before we got very far. Back at camp a bit before 5, I got in a bucket shower before dinner. Spaghetti and ground zebu. One of the better meals here. Helped Kate with her computer again, she worries about way too many things. By the time dinner was done and a bit of conversation, it was dark. Kieth wanted to send out a couple of quick emails so I let him use the iPad. Once he was done, I traded a bunch of text messages with Antje before letting her get lunch and let me brush my teeth. Mosquitos were getting the better of me so I moved back to the tent even though reception isn’t as good. Worked on the journal for the day before calling it quits.
Woke the usual time a bit before 6:00. Didn’t get out of the tent until 6:15. Down for breakfast, moof balls. They gave me 4, I managed one and a half. Next up is Kianjavato at 8:00, then Ambohitsara, then Footobahitra. We missed a wire connection that caused the adapter to fail at Kianjavato. On the way back we picked up rolls and the coup-coups. They were only 7,000 each. Back for a lunch of zebu and rice. We then did a nice long walk to the Manakara river. About an hour there and the same back. Likely 5 mile round trip. It was the first significant walk in the last 3 and a half weeks. The river was sizable and the other members on the walk all hired a couple of canoes to take them to the other side and back. These are dugouts and I decided to pass so everybody else gave me the things that couldn’t get wet. After we got back Brandon discovered that he had a chigoe flea problem. It is a worm that gets under the skin, a not that dangerous, but very painful to remove. I looked myself over but didn’t see anything. There is a good chance they came from the shower. The team was starting on the packing process to see which tools could stay. Dinner about 5:30 was beans and rice, I didn’t eat much of either. As usual, dark by the time we were done with dinner. My packing isn’t bad, just need to pack up sleeping bag, tent, and mattress pad. The driver wants everything down by 6:00am. We will be on the road before 7:00. The rest will need to be done in the morning. Heading to the tent about 8:30.
Up 5:00 with the alarm, still didn’t sleep that well. When I got up at 4:15am, the stars were impressive again. Orion was the only constellation that I have recognized yet. The Milky Way was again so bright that you could see structure in it. Had the tent, sleeping bag, mattress, and clothing all put back in the red duffle. I left several things there so not sure why everything barely seemed to fit. We got on the road by 7:15. I sat in the front seat of the truck. The roads are twisty and full of almost impassable potholes. Made good time and we got off the R25 and turned north on the R7 at 9:04. Got to Ambositra for lunch at 11:50. I ordered steak and fries. This is a tourist hotel so they actually called it steak not zebu.
Lunch was rather quick, we had paid by 1:10. Stopped for gas before hitting a souvenir shop. Left there at 2:00 with 255K to go. Passed kids making gravel out of bigger rocks, by hand. Sunset is 5:33, people here for the most part don’t use headlights until it is very dark. It is sunset now and we still have 37Km to go. Made it to the hotel by 6:30 in the dark. I got to the showers first! The last shower I had was on 7/9, I feel much better now. Next is a bit of waiting for the drivers to get back, then off to the airport. After getting gas and a minor snafu with the extra bag, we were ready to go through security about 10:45. Once inside, it was 11:00 before I got a simple ham sandwich to eat.
Boarded and sitting on the plane, but doors didn’t close till 1:30. First meal was served as soon as everything was stable. Chicken and pasta with bread and cheese. Plugged in my headphones to kill background noise. Managed to sleep for well over 4 hours. Up again, my bottom was hurting for sitting so long. Got up and stood around for 15 minutes or so. Landed in Paris 10:49 local time, but it took 40 minutes to get off the plane. Libby has premier status so we sat in the fancy lounge. All the students left for another 10 days in Europe. The wifi was very good and I texted Antje until about the time I needed to leave. We boarded the plane about 1:20pm. I am in seat 33J on an Airbus A 340-300. That puts my feet up agains a bulk head so I have a bit less storage, but I don’t need it anyway. We didn’t get wheels off the ground until 2:40pm, 50 minutes late. But the trip computer still shows that we will arrive on time at 4:00. Going over Greenland was very impressive, I managed to take several photos with the 6D. We crossed over it about 12 noon central time. I am so tired of being in a plane, but have one more flight. We got in a few minutes late and we only had 90 minutes to get through customs. Six of the seven bags made it. We think the 7th bag (Libby’s) didn’t because the guy who helped us get through customs didn’t wanted to be paid again and Libby refused. He likely had someone behind the counter delay her bag. Attempting to deal with everything left us thinking we might miss our flight, but we made it on time. Push back was at 5:35pm. The flight to Omaha was shorter than expected with a very happy girlfriend waiting for me. My bag got lost on the last leg. Quick drive home, got there at 8:45pm, 45.5 hours after I left Kianjavato. Antje fixed salads for dinner.
To bed early.
We got up at 7:15 and took another shower. Very nice to be home. Dug the foot parasite out of my left foot, well I got out a ton of eggs it left behind. Never any discomfort though, I will give it a day or two then maybe the minor medical place can deal with it. Never did hurt or cause any problems.
Happy to be home.