We finally got out of town! After moving here a month ago, it was refreshing to see the other side of Madagascar, outside of the crowded capital. The one thing that keeps on striking us over and over again is the similarity of the culture to the Philippines, or maybe these things are shared by all developing countries. Check out these photos.
The views just 15 minutes away from the city were astounding. And the amazement didn't stop until we got to our destination.
Just like any other Cipullo holiday, we "planned" for the trip way in advance. NOT. We at least got our Malaria medicine secure. (Thank God for no side effects). We called the Top 2 hotels and they were fully booked. It was the Easter weekend after all. After calling a couple more hotels, we ended up with Indri Lodge. The showers didn't work (just hot water), one of our beds smelled like pee, and when I asked for an extra bed for Nina, they brought in a crib. The food was decent - protein, veggies and rice or fried potatoes, and the staff were very, very NICE. They really tried their best to make our stay comfortable. We wouldn't come back or would recommend it to anyone, but we had a good time anyway. Well, except for the stomach bug at the end of the trip...
After we arrived at 5pm (it was about a 3.5 hour drive thru winding roads), we chilled at the pool side and rested early. The next day, we trekked up to the Mantadia National Park and met our tour guide Dominique. We walked for 2 hours in total, in a very muddy trail, and we saw some interesting plants and animals. The lemurs were pretty hard to see, as they were above us most of the way. We probably only saw one or two. It was worth it though, the kids thought it was a great adventure in the wild. After 2 hours, Nina was ready to go. Dominique carried her like a Malagasy kid.
We had lunch at the Vakona Forest Lodge (the top 1 hotel in the area) and the Kevin tasted his first quail! We didn't have a reservation, but as I am finding now, when you have kids in tow, they wouldn't refuse you. So, they gave us a table. That being said, the food wasn't that great. Maybe we just ordered the wrong things on the limited menu.
We took the kids to horse back riding for 30 minutes, then we canoed over to the lemur park. We enjoyed the latter activity very much, and we saw the lemurs up close.
What a great day. The next day, the stomach bug started for me, so I had to stay at the hotel room while the kids and Daddy went to a nearby field to fly Kevin's airplane and Daddy's drone. There were some kids in the area who were a little curious.
Before we headed home, we stopped for lunch at a local eatery (inviting more germs in our system, of course), to taste what the locals ate. Again, more protein and rice, but tastier than what we had in the hotel. All in all, our trip was unforgettable (and cheap). We've learned so much about what our bodies can take, what the kids enjoyed doing, and somehow, Tim and I were proud that our kids went through inconveniences like champs. They didn't mind the stinky and small bed, the lack of cellular/internet coverage, the pool water that was brownish in color, or the food that tasted blah. We could see in their eyes how much they enjoyed being together as a family and exploring nature, despite the frequent visits to the bathroom the day after we arrived. They've always put things in perspective for us as adults - seeing the world with fresh eyes, and making us accept the "now". This weekend, Tim and I were quite "disturbed" by the discomfort of the trip (and we can pretty much take anything) but endured through it because the kids reminded us how great life is.