Noch eine Schüttelkarte / Another shaker card

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Als wären Shaker Karten nur was für diesen Anlass: aber es ist wieder eine Babykarte geworden, mit einem Motiv von Bugaboo Digi Stamps. Ich bin mal gespannt, wann mich da der Weihnachtswahnsinn überkommt. Erstmal habe ich keine Overheadfolie mehr…

With me it looks as if shaker cards were only good for this one occasion: it’s another baby card, featuring an image from Bugaboo Digi Stamps. I wonder when my Christmas mania will take root there as well. But for the time being I’ve run out of transparents.

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Überhaupt hatte ich gestern den totalen Lauf… acht Karten sind dabei rausgekommen. Doch dazu ein anderes Mal mehr 🙂 Diese gebe ich in die Challenge bei City Crafter, wo es darum geht, Pailletten zu verwenden. Habt einen schönen Sonntag!

I was on a roll yesterday… made eight cards. But more about that some other time 🙂 I will enter this at the challenge over at City Crafter, that’s all about sequins this week! Have a great Sunday!

Barbara

Der 85. Geburtstag / The 85th Birthday

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Ganz kurz vor meinem Urlaub habe ich einen Auftrag für Einladungskarten zum 85. Geburtstag meines Vaters erhalten und in einer ziemlichen Hauruck-Aktion noch ausgeführt. Keine großen Schnörkeleien sollten es sein… damit ist man bei mir ja auch ganz gut aufgehoben.

Shortly before my recent vacation I had received an order for invitations for my Dad’s 85th birthday which I came up with in just a few hours. It was supposed to be without frills… and that usually plays into my hands.

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Die Karte ist auf dem Foto leicht gewellt, weil sie vorher noch durch den Drucker gerutscht ist – das Rundum-Sorglos-Paket sozusagen, Versand inklusive.

As you can see on the picture, the card is a bit wavy still as it went through the printer as well – a „comprehensive carefree package“, shipping inlcuded.

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Ein schönes Wochenende euch allen!

Have a good weekend everybody!

Barbara

Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow!

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Es ist schon irgendwie kühl genug, dass man über Weihnachten nachdenken könnte, finde ich. Dazu noch eine Weihnachts-CD in den Player gelegt und los geht’s! Die Jingle Belles arbeiten in dieser Woche unter dem Motto „Let It Snow!“… es soll also Schnee auf der Karte erscheinen.

It’s certainly cold enough to think about Christmas! Add to that a CD with Christmas songs in your player and you’re ready to go! Over at the Jingle Belles this fortnight’s challenge „Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow!“ is all about… snow.

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Schon als ich letztes Mal dabei war, habe ich mit den Resten des letzten Weihnachts-Fundraisers gearbeitet – die die Form von Lesezeichen haben. Und auch hier hat es sich angeboten. Und dazu noch die neuen Schneemann-Sticker, die ich in Massen im Ausverkauf meines liebsten und nun bald schließenden Geschäfts für Büro- und Schreibwaren erstanden habe.

When I participated last, back in April, I had already used some of the scraps from last year’s Christmas fundraiser – that come in the shape of a bookmark. And they came in handy again here. Add to that the new snowman sticker I bought by the dozen in the clearance sale of my favorite store for office and craft supplies and this is what I came up with.
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Ich denke, die Karte passt auch zur Challenge bei ABC, wo es heißt, „Keep It Simple“. Und einfach gehalten habe ich es wohl?? Bis bald!

I think the card also qualifies for the challenge over at ABC, „Keep It Simple“, so I’ll enter it there as well. See you soon!

Barbara

Madagascar | Useful information

Should you intend to travel to Madagascar yourself (I sure hope my blog posts kept tempting you more and more every time they were published!), here are some useful pieces of information concerning transportation and accommodation.

Transportation
Our trip from Antananarivo to Tuléar was with a private car and a driver which we rented by the day (all negotiated and discussed via direct e-mail contact beforehand). We were on the road with Ravelomanantsoa Andrinaivo Lala, Naivo for short, and couldn’t have wished for a more reliable and experienced driver and guide – we had lots of interesting conversations (as far as our French allowed – but he does speak some English, too). We had agreed on a price in Ariary before the trip which at the time was about 45 Euros per day PLUS all the gas needed en route. As we did not go back to Antananarivo with him, he charged two days plus gas for the trip back. And you can’t do it much faster than that. If you would like to get in touch you can do so via e-mail at rnaivo@yahoo.fr or via phone at +261 (0)32 4990504.
In Antananarivo we mainly relied on regular taxis (which are everywhere and as far as we know safe). We were told that within Tana no trip should cost more than 10,000 Ariary which I would say is a lot already – but please keep in mind that inflation is a big issue in Madagascar and that we traveled in April/May 2015. Depending on when you read this, things might have changed considerably.
JaonaFor our trip to Ambohimanga we booked a driver via the hotel, Jaona. He charged 50 Euros for a full day, gas included. He was also very nice to travel with and very reliable. You can reach him at tanataxijaona@gmail.com or via phone at +261 (0)34 5186797. We had contacted him again for the trip to the Lemur’s Park but he was not available, went to great lengths, though, to arrange for a transport for us.
One day in Antananarivo, we also moved with Naivo’s son Kiady. which is a 100% recommendation as well. You can reach him at kiady@live.fr or via phone at +261 (0)32 5628900.
In Tuléar, taxis are hard to come by as most hired transportation is done by pousse-pousses (bike rikshas). Certainly, every hotel can arrange for transportation but as we were staying with a friend, we needed contacts. Michael seemed to have fair prices. You can reach him at each of the following phone numbers: +261 (0)32 0203689, +261 (0)34 0203689, +261 (0)33 2309108.

Air Madagascar offers domestic flights between the larger cities and tourist destinations. Flights can be booked online without problem – and the changes that concerned our flight were communicated both via e-mail and text message to the number we had indicated. Do book as soon as possible, though, as prices rise the closer you get to the travel date. And do factor in a buffer as sometimes flights are postponed.

Hotels
Accommodation in Madagascar comes at very reasonable prices, though in a few cases we did treat ourselves to more fancy ones (which, by comparison, were still reasonably priced). We liked every place we stayed at, so have a look:

Sakamanga Hotel, Antananarivo
Contact: +261 (0)20 2235809, http://www.sakamanga.com, contact@sakamanga.com

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The small and somewhat battered metal gate gives no indication whatsoever of what’s behind: the Sakamanga (Blue Cat) Hotel is a true oasis in the big city! It consists of several different buildings and you have to find your way around at first… we walked through little passageways the first morning to reach the garden where breakfast was served. It has a bar, its own fantastic restaurant (very good food at absolutely competitive prices… the mousse au chocolat was a revelation… and at about 2.50 Euros one of the more pricey desserts), a pool, a little museum and attention is paid to innumerable little details. Of course there’s wifi, too. As it was a recommendation, we wanted to stay there no matter what during our first stay in Tana… and ended up with the luxury suite as that was the only one available… at a staggering… 78 Euros. But their rates start at 30 Euros (which is per room, not per person – and this could have accommodated 5 people). Breakfast can be buffet-style (about 6 Euros) or continental (about 3.30 Euros). I have no intention to stay anywhere else should I at some point return to Antananarivo. I guess you could say I fell in love.

Le Trianon, Antsirabe
Contact: +261-(0)34-0505140, http://www.hotel-letrianon-antsirabe.com, hotel.letrianon@gmail.com

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This is an old colonial building and has quite a different charm to it. There are only a few rooms, I’m not sure it is but it feels family-run. Our room was spacious with old wooden floors, had a king-size bed AND twin beds, a large desk… nothing to be desired. The bathroom was built-in. Wifi was available, though in the hall only. I didn’t mind that as there were comfy chairs and I didn’t want to talk anyway. No A/C, in case that’s important for you, and no mosquito nets, either, but they weren’t needed anyway. There’s an adjoining restaurant which was okay. Breakfast was simple but good… including Antsirabe cheese. The rate for the room at the time was 79,500 Ariary, which was about 25 Euros.

Cristo Hotel, Morafeno (near Ranomafana National Park)
Contact: +261-(0)34-1235397, http://cristohotel.cabanova.fr, cristomadagascar@gmail.com

Cristo
This hotel is not among the closest to Ranomafana National Park it’s in the next village on the road to Mananjary. I have definitely never stayed at a hotel before where the welcome was as friendly and truly heart-warming. This is a family-run place – right down to the sizable collection of orchids and other plants that is in the hands of the manager’s mother. For dinner there is a choice of two dishes and despite the fact that there are more restaurants in Ranomafana, we stayed there both nights, as it was good food (about 1.80 Euros for the entrée… zebu steak with fries and veggies). Our room featured a queen size bed and a single one, both with mosquito nets and made from bamboo. No A/C but a jaw-droppingly beautiful view… which is also in sight when you have breakfast on the verandah. There’s no wifi but our host said with a smile that they have started considering it as so many people ask. As I read a lot, I always take note of the bedside lighting which was not too good here. The rate was 90,000 Ariary… about 27 Euros.

Tsara Guest House, Fianarantsoa
Contact: +261-(0)20 75 502 06, http://www.tsaraguest.com, tsaraguest@tsaraguest.com

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A very nice place to stay – probably one of the best in Fianarantsoa. It is not in the old town but in walking distance. Really quiet with friendly staff and a good and cozy restaurant. Postcards of photographer Pierrot Men for sale at the reception desk. Wifi worked intermittently. I got a little exasperated with their website when trying to find out about rates etc. – or rather about the e-mail contact I tried to establish. We somehow ended up on a booking website and the prices were outrageous there. So what we did was not book at all and just show up. It was almost 20 Euros cheaper than what we were offered online. I forgot the exact amount but it was around 50 Euros for the twin bed room. Which also reminds me of a general remark I’ve wanted to make: during low season, there is no need to make reservations anywhere. There were vacancies in every single hotel we stayed at and Naivo, our driver, said as much, too.

Hotel Aux Bougainvillées, Ambalavao
Contact: +261-(0)75 34001, http://www.auxbougainvillees.sitew.com, auxbougainvilleesambalavao@gmail.com

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We had no reservation for this hotel, either, and once we found the manager (reception was closed, the office moved to the restaurant), it was no problem getting a room. It was a rather Spartan affair but all the essentials were there, including mosquito nets for the beds. The shower was constructed in a way that makes you flood the whole bathroom BIG TIME but once you realize why it happens, you can limit the “damage”. There’s wifi at the restaurant, which closes at about 9 pm but the wifi’s kept on and you can continue using it on the porch there. The check-out was quite an experience again, done at the bar… and I don’t remember getting a receipt, either! Breakfast was flexible: usually served from 7:00 onwards we were accommodated for 6:30.

Le Jardin du Roy, Ranohira (near Isalo National Park)
Contact: http://www.lejardinduroy.com

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The video on the hotel’s website shows horses running on the hotel grounds… and we were like “yeah, right.” But it turned out to be right: there were I think six horses roaming freely on the lawns between the bungalows, paying visits to the terraces and the pool, too! It turned out to be a perfect place to stay. It comes at a price but we were going to treat ourselves to something more fancy anyway. Wonderful architecture that picks up elements from the landscape, the fauna and also cultural elements. The hotel has its own vast kitchen gardens )which we walked through one morning) so most of the food is their own. The bungalows are spacious, the food is just amazing, the staff extremely helpful… and good deals are to be had, too: stay three nights and the fourth is free for example. There’s wifi, of course, though not in the rooms. Drivers stay free of charge. We had planned only two nights and spontaneously decided to stay for a third. I guess that pretty much sums it up.

Eco Lodge Lalandaka, Anakao
Contact: +261-(0)20 94 922 2, http://www.lalandaka.com, reservation@lalandaka.com

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This was the hotel I had booked before anything else was decided and the rest of the trip was planned to accommodate the stay there. It is really, really simple, no great luxury, no running water – and rationed water on top of that. If you want to take a warm shower (bucket and ladle, that is), you need to warm some of the water that was allotted to you in a solar heater near the hut. There’s 24h electricity and also wifi, though the later only from 5pm onwards at the bar. There’s no bedside lights which made reading in bed impossible. Bar and restaurant are in a larger, open hut with sand floor, so meals taken barefoot are the norm. Our bungalow was right on the beach, where two sun loungers and an umbrella were waiting for us and it featured a hammock, too, so basically had all I needed for four days of relaxation. Food was good, too, staff very friendly – a recommend. The night was to be had at 85,000 Ariary, so about 25 Euros for the double room. Speedboat transfer is arranged by the hotel, too (from Tuléar), at 90,000 Ariary for the return ticket per person.
There are quite a few souvenir sellers on the beach but on our first day there I had found an agreement with them: leave me in peace until the afternoon of our last day and I would shop till I dropped then. They honored the agreement and so did I.

Madagascar | Lemur’s Park

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Vielleicht geht es euch ja wie mir vor der Abfahrt zum Lemur’s Park westlich von Antananarivo: bei aller Niedlichkeit – nochmal Lemuren? Muss das sein? Dazu gab es noch einen Megastau, so dass sich 22km zu einer Stunde Fahrt auswuchsen und wir das Überholmanöver unseres Lebens er- und überleben durften. Aber an der Straße gibt es ja immer unendlich viel zu sehen… Hier ein Suchbild für Hartgesottene: wer findet die Zebuzunge?

When you read the title of this post maybe you felt as I did before we left for the Lemur’s Park west of Antananarivo: cute as they may be – lemurs again? Really? Add to that a mega traffic jam so that 22km equaled an hour on the road, during we which we were treated to the take-over of a lifetime – which luckily wasn’t ended by it. But then there is also so much to see along the roads, too… Here’s another picture-puzzle – skip if you are faint at heart: where is the zebu’s tongue?

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Der Park ist privat geführt und die Eintrittsgelder haben mir (im Vergleich zu anderen vorher) erstmal den Atem geraubt – und wer die Preise im Museumsshop zahlt, ist auch selbst schuld. Aber: der Führer war ausgesprochen gut geschult… und die Lemuren ließen sich auch nicht lumpen. Es waren mindestens drei Arten dabei, die wir noch nicht gesehen haben und die meisten ließen sich durch uns Besucher nicht aus der Ruhe bringen. Im Gegenteil: bei manchen war ich mir eigentlich nicht mehr sicher, wer sich eigentlich wen genauer anguckt – viel relaxter als so geht es ja kaum:

It’s a privately run park and the ticket prices made me gasp (in comparison to what we paid in other places) – and if you shop in their store you are beyond help anyway. But: the guide was extremely well trained… and the lemurs played their part, too. There were at least three kinds that we hadn’t seen before and they didn’t get worked up about our visit. Quite the opposite: sometimes I wasn’t sure who was watching who really – it doesn’t get much more relaxed that this, does it?

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Klar, die Kattas waren auch hier dabei – aber da war mehr Action drin als bei allen vorherigen Sichtungen. Zwei Teenager haben sich über die Bäume gejagt und einen Heidenspaß dabei.

Sure, there were kattas again – but there was a lot more action in this group than in any we had seen before. Two teenagers were chasing each other in the trees and had a blast.

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Das nächste Pärchen ist noch gar nicht lange zusammen: Herr Lemur musste eine ziemlich lange Weile ganz allein ausharren, bis man eine Partnerin auftreiben konnte. Aber dann ging alles ganz schnell: Nachwuchs wird im Juli erwartet.

The following couple are practically newly-weds: Mister Lemur had been waiting for an awfully long time before a female was found for him. But they took to each other instantly and a baby is expected for July.

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Hier war auch wieder eine Menge los, wildes Hin- und Hergespringe von Bambusstamm zu Bambusstamm… das ließ sich in einem Foto unmöglich festhalten. Ein Video hätte ich machen können – wenn meine Speicherkarte nicht am Anschlag gewesen wäre.

These guys were having quite a party with lots of jumping from one bamboo tree to the other… impossible to catch on a photo. I could have made a video of course – if I hadn’t been about to reach the limit of my SD card.

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Aber meine absoluten Helden kommen ja noch. Der Guide musste uns quasi loseisen von dieser Gruppe, die ihr „Klettergerüst“ sozusagen als Laufsteg benutzt haben. Sie haben es außerdem geschafft, meinen kürzlich in ähnlicher Umgebung erworbenen Hand- und Fußfetisch wieder an die Oberfläche zu bringen.

But you have yet to meet my heroes. The guide practically had to pry us away from this group which used their “climbing frame” as a catwalk. Moreover, they managed to make my recently acquired hand and foot fetish reappear.

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Ein gelungener Abschluss für diesen Urlaub – in wenigen Stunden geht es auf zum Flughafen… letzte Grüße aus Madagaskar!

All good things must come to an end – I think this was a very appropriate finale for our vacation… a last good-bye from Madagascar!

Barbara

Madagascar | Tsimbazaza

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Wieder zurück in der Hauptstadt gab es noch drei Tage tot zu schlagen. Und abgesehen vom Erwerb größerer Mengen Vanillestangen, was sich wie ein Drogendeal entwickelte, machten wir auch einen zweiten Anlauf, den Zoo und Botanischen Garten Antananarivos zu besuchen: Tsimbazaza.

Back in the capital we had three days to kill. In addition to the purchase of large amounts of high quality vanilla (which felt like we were dealing in drugs, really) we gave the Zoo and Botanical Gardens of Antananarivo a second shot: Tsimbazaza.

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Und wir waren nicht allein. Das Bild gibt es nicht wirklich wieder… aber wir waren mit ungefähr 300 Vor- und Schulkindern dort. Und das, obwohl Tsimbazaza übersetzt soviel heißt wie „nicht für Kinder“. Das rührt allerdings von der früheren Nutzung des Gebiets als Militärgelände. Angesichts dieser Besuchermassen fragten wir uns noch, ob das wohl eine gute Idee war. Aber die Anlage ist mit 20 Hektar unerwartet riesig.

And we were not alone. This picture doesn’t give you a good idea… but we visited along with about 300 preschoolers and students. Even though Tsimbazaza translates to something like „not for children“. But that is due to the fact that the area was previously used as a military camp of sorts. Faced with these crowds we wondered whether our visit was such a good idea after all. But at 20 hectares, the gardens turned out to be unexpectedly huge.

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Die „Palmiere“ oben inklusive eines großen zweiten Sees haben wir nur durch Zufall entdeckt – nach einer Stunde mit unserem bemühten… aber leider unfähigen Guide hatten sich unsere Wege getrennt und wir konnten endlich in aller Ruhe alles abgehen und bewundern. Es sind viele Tiere zu beobachten. Den auch hier zu findenden Lemuren geht es auf ihren Inseln glaube ich ziemlich gut, wenn man bedenkt, dass sie auch in freier Wildbahn ein ziemlich kleines Territorium bewohnen. Die Schildkröte soll so um die 200 Jahre alt sein… und ist mit Abstand die größte, die ich jemals irgendwo gesehen habe.

It was only by chance that we discovered the „palmiere“ above, along with a large second lake – we had parted with our motivated… but unfortunately absolutely incapable guide and were finally able to explore peacefully by ourselves. There are quite a few animals to see. Of course, there are lemurs, too, and I think they’re doing pretty well on their islands – especially as we were told that the range within their natural habits is really small as well. The tortoise is supposedly about 200 years old… and is by far the largest I have ever seen.

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Bei diesem… Adlerkäfig bin ich mir allerdings nicht sicher, ob sich irgendwer damit brüsten sollte, an der Renovierung beteiligt gewesen zu sein.

When it comes to this… eagle cage, though, I’m not sure that anyone should be proud to have their support for it on public display.

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Natürlich habe ich auch die einen oder anderen Blüten gesehen.

Of course there were a few blossoms to admire, too!

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Die Stimmung um den See mit den „Elefantenohren“ war eine ganz besondere – da hätte ich Stunden verbringen können und einfach nur gucken. Nach den Vögeln. Nach den Schmetterlingen. Nach Fröschen vielleicht auch.

The atmosphere by the lake with the „elephant ears“ was really special – I could have spent hours there and just looked. At the birds. At the butterflies. And maybe at the frogs, too.

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Wir hatten zu wenig Zeit. Wir hatten nachmittags noch einen anderen Termin und nicht gedacht, dass es soviel zu sehen gäbe. Es lohnt den Besuch auf jeden Fall und wer halbwegs interessiert ist, sollte mindestens drei Stunden einplanen. Oder auch mehr. Und ein Picknick einpacken – wie die Schüler, die waren schlauer und wohl für den ganzen Tag da.

We didn’t have enough time. We had an appointment in the afternoon and hadn’t thought that there would be so much to see. It is well worth the visit and if you’re only slightly interested you should plan at least three hours. Or more. And bring a picnic – as all the students did, they were clever and probably there for the day.

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Für den nächsten Tag steht noch ein Ausflug an… dazu später mehr!

We have another little trip planned for the following day… so more about that later!

Barbara

Madagascar | Anakao

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Dann doch noch ein Blick zurück auf Tuléar: mit dem Zebukarren wurden wir rausgekarrt zum Boot nach Anakao. Anakao ist keine Insel, aber über den Landweg ist man einen ganzen Tag unterwegs, mit dem Boot eine Stunde. Das ist dann keine gemütliche Fährfahrt, sondern ein wilder Ritt auf den Wellen. Aber einmal angekommen, konnte man den Tag damit verbringen, in den unzähligen Schattierungen von blau und türkis verloren zu gehen.

A view of Tuléar after all: we were hauled out to the boat to Anakao abaord a zebu cart. Anakao is not an island but if you chose to go by road it would take you a day to get there, the boat does it in an hour. But that is no quiet bobbing up and down, it’s quite a wild ride over the waves. Once you arrive, though, you can spend the day just looking at the inumerable shades of blue and turquoise.

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Die Tage waren dem Schwimmen, am Strand entlanggehen, Boote beobachten, lesen, schlafen und essen gewidmet. Auch mit den minderjährigen Souvenirverkäuferinnen kam ich zu einer Übereinkunft: ihr lasst mir jetzt ein paar Tage meine Frieden und am Tag vor der Abreise werde ich einkaufen. Überraschenderweise funktionierte es. Sollte jemand Interesse an einer oder mehereren aus verschiedenen Samen u.ä. gemachten Ketten haben – ich kann liefern.

The days were all about swimming, walking the beach, watching the boats, reading, sleeping and eating. I negotiated a truce with the underage souvenir sellers on the first morning: you leave me alone for the upcoming days and I will shop till I drop on our last day. Surprisingly, it worked out. Should you be interested in one or more necklaces made of different kinds of seeds – be in touch.

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Die Unterkunft (die harten Fakten folgen in einem gesonderten Eintrag) war eine Eco-Lodge, was unter anderem hieß: 15 Liter Süßwasser pro Tag, Klospülung mit Meerwasser aus einer großen Tonne in der Badezimmerhütte. Wer abends warm duschen wollte, musste morgens daran denken, einen gefüllten Topf in den Solarofen zu stellen. Das erschreckende war nicht, dass man eine gesamte – ausgiebige! – Tagestoilette mit deutlich weniger als 10 Liter Wasser durchführen kann. Nein, viel erschreckender war, wieviel Wasser in diese Toilette geschüttet wurde. Vielleicht hatte die Tonne keine 100 Liter, aber 80 sicher…

We were staying at an eco lodge (hard facts to follow in a separate post) which, among other things meant: 15 liters of fresh water per day and a barrel of salt water in the bathroom hut to flush the toilet. If you planned to take a hot shower at night, you better made sure to start heating some of your water in a solar stove in the morning. I was amazed to realize that a full day of body hygiene can be carried out with less than 10 liters of water. But it was shocking to see how much water actually goes down the toilet. Maybe the barrel’s capacity was only 80 and not 100 liters… but still.

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Diese Tage des Dahinlebens werden mir immer lieber und ich hätte da durchaus noch ein paar Tage dranhängen können. Aber wir hatten ja einen Inlandsflug gebucht, von Tuléar zurück nach Antananarivo. Man hatte uns gewarnt, dass Air Madagascar (kurz und passend: Air Mad) oft Flüge cancelt, Umbuchungen vornimmt usw. Deswegen hatten wir da einen Puffer eingebaut. Den wir dann nicht brauchten: statt am Termin abends zu fliegen, wurden wir auf den Flug am Vormittag vorgezogen. Also, auf in die Hauptstadt!

I have come to love these days of doing sweet nothing and could have stayed a few days longer without a problem. But we had booked a domestic flight to take us back to Antananarivo. We had been warned that Air Madagascar (short and significant: Air Mad) often cancels flights, re-books you on a later flight etc. so we had planned with a buffer. Which of course we didn’t need in the end: we flew on the date booked… but not in the evening as planned but at noon. Capital, here we come!

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