‘If life gives you lemurs don’t try to make lemurade. Lemurs are surprisingly powerful for their size, and can become aggressive’, tweeted Paul Bassett Davies. Did he somehow know that we were heading to Madagascar today? Either that, or he’s tracking the movements of the Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, who’s just been here.
A French colony until 1960, Madagascar is the world’s fourth largest island and home to 5% of its plant and animal species. Traditionally the economy has been based on the production of rice, coffee, cloves and vanilla – and now tourism – but things are a little unstable politically since the 2009 coup. Add the start of cyclone season into the mix, and we were starting to think we might be in for an interesting day.
Leroy wanted to see lemurs, since this is the only place in the world you can see them in the wild, but for me the big draw cards were baobabs and pirates. Solange and the kids, the novelty of Swiss snow having worn off, met us in a steamy green valley near the Andasibe-Mantadia National Park, an area that’s home to the indri and golden bamboo lemurs.
We didn’t have long to wait after we first heard the shrieks and wails of the indri, to seeing them singing and leaping around in the trees. Although we didn’t witness any lemurine aggression, it might’ve been a different story if we hadn’t surrendered our mango seeds quickly enough. Lemurs aside, we’ve also now seen hundreds of beautiful, towering baobabs and visited old pirate haunts. No sign of a cyclone.
Anyone up for a fancy French-Malagasy dinner in Antananarivo tonight? It’ll have to be an early one because of the kids, or Leroy and I can meet you after for a cocktail at Dzama.