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4/30-5/27/05 [DREAMS included at end.]

SATURDAY, 4/30/05: 12:30PM: Caught up with NOTEREPL-73 and decided to do the first lines HERE. Determined NOT to get over-rushed just before the car arrives, as I did the last few trips, and now I over-planned, so I know that my cash taken is $999.50 + 51.5€ to be used in Paris, and that my duffel bag (which contains my blue bag, to be taken into the interior, and my suit and dress shoes and shirt and tie to be left in the Tana hotel for the later grand dining in Paris). Taking snorkel stuff, and just added my beret and one glove for luggage, since it was as chilly in the moist 55° weather going to the bank as it may be in 5000-foot Tana before we go downcountry. So the duffel bag weighs 26 pounds and the A&K bag weighs 17 pounds for a total of 43 pounds, the most in a long time, but this is a long trip. Now to initialize my AlphaSmart so I remember I STARTED this file and just have to ADD to it. 2:10PM: Played Spider to a new record of 47.11538%, calling the car service to phone me AHEAD of time, and it's VERY foggy out! Take the last garbage out, change into clean clothes, and pack bags completely, ready for car-phone call. [FIRST of File 1 on AlphaSmart:] This reminds me that I STARTED my TR\MADAGAS file, so I ADD this to it! What to do? Play Spider! Take melatonin at 2, car to 101 at 2:20, and pass by my as-yet-untaken binoculars! To airport by 2:50, MY bag checked through to Madagascar and his NOT, but when I go to his desk, HIS clerk reminds me that MY clerk didn't tag my carry-on with a "Cabine" tag, so one was good for one thing, the other for another. Ken also took my advice and changed ALL his cash from his unlocked check-in luggage to carry-on, which only made sense to me. To security at 3:15 and I float through (camera comes through on its FACE in my A&K bag, something I hope never happens again), and Ken is checked on a slow line till 3:20. Eat in Brooklyn Beer Garden again, I with a good ham and Brie and a Weisse beer for $16 for which Ken overcharges me for $13 + 18% added tip. Get to gate and we're BOARDING at 4:20! Incredible! Kid behind me talks the ENTIRE trip with his high whine to his tolerant daddy. Flight announced at 6:40 and it's cloudy in Paris. LOUD kid behind, and Ken keeps leaning WAY back in his chair in front of me, to my disgust. My bag barely fits in the space, and all the rows are full. No interesting movies, so we back out at 5:02PM and I take TWO Ambien. Long night, clouds, bumps, slow sunset, champagne and orange juice for dinner, and put in earplugs and put on eyemask and still don't go to sleep. Then remember night pills at 9:36 NY time, the night bag is upside down and spills everything into the bag, a huge pain, but I find everything and take pills. Watch sunset and only 2:21 flight left and kicking kid finally moves to middle. Lots of stars, horizon almost always visible. Brat talked ALL night.

SUNDAY, 5/1/05: Still dark as we pass SOUTH of Ireland and England as we eat breakfast at 4:13AM! Watch my dawn with lightning flashes to the north about every two or three seconds below clouds (which Ken, of course, doesn't even deign to look at out the window when I point them out). Land over LOTS of lit suburbs at 12:05 by my watch, 6:05AM local time, and on bus at 6:28 for long confusing ride to area E, where we get off for long walk and Ken gets coffee and a chocolate roll and I sit and do just AWFULLY with this, taking about half an hour to erase spaces and junk added to the computer in my A&K bag. MUST protect it! Now finished at 1:47AM, changing time to 7:47AM. HUGE new empty areas all around Charles de Gaulle, and Ken sits and reads and I finish this off and see we don't board until 9:20, an hour and a half from now! UGH! Can only hope it will be CLEAR over much of daylight Africa! Read New Yorker and board bus at 9:25, which goes through "suburbs" of parked planes, a four-engined one of which we board at 9:15. Roll 1: #1-7 much of the snow-covered Swiss Alps while I regret missing a picture-perfect snap of Versailles with all its cruciform lakes and gardens. At 10:23 they announce a 10-hour flight. Off at 10:55. #8 volcano? #9-10-11 ETNA, of which Ken has the temerity to say, "But isn't it south, or west, or north," and I say, "I can't hear you," in exasperation. Lunch is over at 1PM, at which time I change my watch to Tana time: 2PM. #12 Benghazi (which country?) at 2:30. #13 desolation at 3PM: seldom have I seen such FORBIDDING countryside: not on the South Atlantic or the North Pacific, not in Nebraska or Kansas, not in the Antarctic or in Siberia. Thousands of miles of maybe ridged, maybe smooth sand, sometimes with bare stone denuded by the wind dark in contrast to the tan sand, and sometimes with geometrically arranged circles of darkness that can only be interpreted (by me) as cultivation of some kind. It's truly mesmerizing to look out at such a vast expanse of totally useless and unused land, though there are a few square forts, some dots that may be cattle or vegetation, and some "civilized" areas where two sand-tracks will cross, sometimes with squares of what look to be dry farmland nearby. #14 cultivation? North of Cutra. UTTER desert to 5:30. NO WORSE LAND ON EARTH. How can people in Libya, Somalia, Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria, fight over this desolation? #15 wadi at 4:54. #16 fort and cattle? bushes? at 5PM. #17 Nile at 5:12. 5:30 clouds obscuring Nile, Nairobi, and equator, with plane-map saying Nairobi is north of equator and my Michelin saying it's south (or vice versa). 6:05 HEAVY clouds, sometimes with lightning behind them. Sun sets (perhaps only behind clouds) at 6:46, but it seems to appear later. #16 sunset, but my flash went off at 6:52. I remember to take melatonin at 7:20PM. It's then totally dark, and I read New York magazine, having lost my current New Yorker behind my bag, which I don't find until I pack to leave. Smallish "dinner" of sandwiches and fruit and juice, late at 8:44: turbulence had prevented it from being served earlier, and I was hungry, but Ken professed the next morning to be STARVED, as he seemed to be when he ate MUCH more of the buffet breakfast than I did. We land at 9:53, 60° Fahrenheit feels warmer than that, and onto Visa line at 10:15. Then it turns out that I had a FORM to fill out, of which Ken, a la Spartacus, said, "Well, you GOT the form," and I retort, "No, Spartacus, I did NOT get the form." Fill out a two-page form that I find on a desk, wait after Ken on HIS line for the OTHER customs officer, and find that it's supposed to be a THREE-page form, at which point I go back and find it's included in a red booklet that I thought wasn't necessary for anything. Finally get to the FIRST officer as his LAST customer and for some reason he waves me over to the OTHER fellow. Out to find Ken bitching that it's impossible to get to the luggage-carousel, but I push through, think for a horrible second that I see my duffel bag wrapped in plastic, but then my own bag comes out and he gets his FIRST bag, then tells me to watch his TWO bags while he gets his THIRD. Stand in the "Nothing to declare" line and he makes me OPEN the duffel, but balks at making me open the blue bag within. There should be 9 of us, but only 8 appear and finally Roland says we should go to the hotel anyway, and lackeys pile luggage into a 20-passenger bus and we pile in at 11:25, I feeling TOTALLY exhausted and not talking to many of the people in the group, who are merrily chatting away with each other, the single John bragging about his time in Antarctica, Tibet, and other exotic places. To Hotel Colbert, nice on a hill, at 11:55 and I dump all my stuff out, take a quick refreshing shower, and drink lovely cold bottled water and get into bed at 12:27AM.

MONDAY, 5/2/05: Wake, as Ken does, at 3:03, and then again at 6:10 and he insists we might as well get up, so we do, at 6:15, after chatting a bit, and I start putting things away but he seems determined to have breakfast, so we leave at 6:55 to an empty pleasant La Fougere, with a lavish buffet of breads, tiny bowls for cereal, and lots of good fruit: pineapple and mango known, and tashi like a squishy tomato good, and grenedelle, which turns out to be their word for passion fruit, all very good. Fruit bread is wonderful under honey, apricot jam with croissants, and two cups of good hot chocolate, to which I learn I have to add milk to my taste, since if I don't, and ask for milk, SHE adds it. We get two bills for 11000A for buffet, which I insist we'll have to pay for, but Ken says it's part of our breakfast, and we'll see. Back to room at 7:23 and catch up with this by 7:50, now ready to unpack, though we're leaving tomorrow. Get everything unneeded out of my A&K bag, but load it up with LOTS for the day: camera, videocamera, sunhat, raincoat, umbrella, DEET, suntan lotion, puzzles, books, binox. Ken and I take down our "to be left" bags to be retrieved before we return to Paris, getting a little red-lined form in return. Decide to change to a short-sleeved shirt, leaving my stinky undershirt to dry in the closet before putting it into my "dirty black" bag. Separate everything into "yellow-to-be-used" and "white-already-souvenirs" bags. Let's hope this works for a day or two. My peroxide leaked in my dop kit, so I took a sanitary-napkin bag from the SEPARATE toilet-bathroom (from the twin-sinked, huge-tubbed, nice-shower OTHER bathroom). Ken reads something about a bank at 9:05AM and I decide I have to go. To the bank on the corner, wait a long time with their 1818 rate quoted, only to be told: You have to go to the Bank of Africa. Go there to LONG lines, Ken says he refuses to wait, I ask for change line and find ONE person on it. NEED passport, which I didn't bring, and Ken gets me 181,800A for $100. MORE than from the hotel, but only by about 1%. THAT all takes to 9:52 and we get ready to meet downstairs. Mark is here, but disgruntled because he didn't hear the announcement for his name, paid to taxi to the hotel, because "They couldn't find me," and he went back to the AIRPORT to sleep, but he's here, anyway. We eight gather and talk to 10:07, to bus to take #19 of main square at 10:32, #20 rail station, #21-27 from Ananamanga (Blue Hill) view over entire western town, with airport in far distance, and our hotel in one shot, and then #29 rice paddies to south to 11:30 from a pergola to which I led Roland and the other tourists, except Mark, who sat and sulked on the bus. #31 rebuilding Catholic Cathedral at 11:40, #32 Prime Minister's palace, #33 school and kids at 11:48, and then back to lunch in nice Colbert La Taverna of mushrooms and asparagus salad, duck with vegetables, a Three Horses beer for 4500, seemingly VERY cheap, and ice cream, and 65 cl beer, and everyone eventually joined us except Allesandra, who enjoyed the pool. Back up about 1:40 to rest until Ken insists on going to the post office, so I get up and he buys 6 1100A stamps for postcards and I spend 14000 on other stamps, feeling pretty good about it, and up to stamp my six postcards for 66000A, and type this to 2:47, about ready to get downstairs for the trip to the zoo with the appearance of the aye-aye scheduled for 5PM. We sign duplicate bills and only get the copies back when we pay our bill---leaving tomorrow, going to two other places, then back here in four days before going off somewhere ELSE, and they tell me we'll all be spending 17 days together before we go off on our special post-tour and then end up in Paris. Busy, busy. Off at 3:01, having to rush, since there's no parking in front of the hotel and the bus holds up endless traffic as we board. To Tsimbzaza Park and #35 of golden pheasant at 3:10. Roland leads us around too fast, but I manage to take ten fairly successful (though shaky) minutes of video and lots of photos: #36 fish eagles. Roll 2: #1: Maned ibis with flash. #3-4 cuckoo-roller, #4 blue coua, #6 bush pigs #7 view UP to cliff-side from zoo at 3:37. #9 3-color poinsettia at 4:04. #10-14 of various lemurs, which video camera couldn't get a good close-up of. #15 wood sculpture of "erotic" character, though I couldn't find it, even taking video of it. NO aye-aye, but he ate the egg that was left for him between the time we left him and the time we got back. Leave at DARK at 5:40, back to hotel at 5:52, to room at 5:55 to shit smellily. Get told dinner at 7PM, leaving tomorrow at 7AM. Type 6:03-6:10. TIRED! Ken reads about hotel tomorrow. Will read before dinner, having told Ken I won't be changing. Finish yet another New Yorker magazine by 6:56, at which point Ken puts on his belt for dinner and we go down to be among the first, so we can be among the first to get to bed and get a GOOD night's sleep! Dinner a disaster with tough zebu, over-chocolated dessert, and the worst wine in the world, for which John refused to accept my 5000A for half-payment. Upstairs at 9PM, followed closely by Ken, and get to bed at 9:06PM.

TUESDAY, 5/3/05: Wake at 1:23 and go back to sleep. Wake at 5:15 and somehow think I have two hours of sleep left, but then Ken's up at 5:44, announcing that it's almost quarter to 6, and we have to breakfast at 6, so I quickly put things into bags, wash my face, decide to brush my teeth after breakfast, and dash this off by 5:58AM, ready for breakfast in my slippers and unwashed body and STILL my one short-sleeved shirt, taking my jacket and rain stuff, since I have no idea what the weather will be. I "open" breakfast at 6:02AM before they get the fruit out, and eat still a lot, but the two women insist on eating at their OWN table, not at our table for 10, and it turns out we COULD have eggs, and Allesandra reminds me not to eat the skins of ANYTHING, as I did yesterday of the "tashi," which turned out to be persimmon. Back up at 6:27 to do this to 6:29 and start on teeth. Teeth to 6:38, Ken still shitting. Everything into dop kit but still a question if everything will fit into my A&K bag! It does. Pay 26,500A for bill for both, cash going fast: clerk says, "No credit cards till 8AM" and Ken says, "OTHER guy paid with AmEx"! Too late. Bags down and we sit and chat at 6:49. #17 view from breakfast room at Colbert. Cool this AM. On bus 6:54, MANY beggars and stuff-sellers. Leave at 6:58! To airport 7:35, check in all luggage and have carry-on restricted to 5 kilos, which Ken is obviously over. NO reserved seats, 48-passenger plane leaves at 9AM, we should get window-seat on LEFT for best view. John mentions Marine Expeditions on bus and we talk about that. Into rather nice waiting room at 7:56, waiting for sign to go up so we can rush for first seats. ROAD to airport was MARVELOUS: zebus, lines waiting for busses, salespeople, beggars, old buildings, ponds filled with water hyacinths, colorful shops, including Bongon foie gras de Madagascar, and Ken asks why I'm not taking photos, saying I should sit in the first seat and video the whole trip one way. About a dozen people already waiting for plane, and flight is over an hour. John talks business with Ken, and Allesandra moans about a sore shoulder; she had worked for the US government going to strange places solving problems. Figure to finish this now at 8AM and wait for the crush for the seats. To puzzle to 8:40 but feel antisocial, so I stop. We're flying MD502 to Maroantsetra, as closely as I can make out. There's an announcement, and I rush to be first at 8:45, and she checks my passport and ticket and is just about to let me onto the runway when someone says that this is for an earlier flight. Sit back down, but then everyone's standing and I stand behind Roland, who's pushed his way to the side of a bunch of people who turn out to be Pakistanis: men as dark and well-dressed as anyone, women in wonderfully colorful, thickly embroidered and fringed dresses and head-cloths that I'm tempted to ask for a photo of, but they seem very private. Then they start taking tickets, and Roland goes through with his officer-friend, and a Paki couple hadn't gotten out their passports, so I put across my pass and passport and am admitted almost alone onto the field, where someone points me to a distant plane and I see Roland ahead. Up the narrow stairs and he announces he's kept a whole pack of left-facing seats for us. My first choice has a very scratched window, so I move up one, with a window toward the back of the seat, but I figure I can lean back, only to find the seat-backs are rigid. Oh, well, it doesn't matter, because the sky is covered with clouds. It's 8:50 and they announce a 45-minute flight, but then Ken informs me we're the second of three stops on this particular flight, which fills up quickly, a young woman sitting next to me who reads her book through the entire flight. #18 off at 8:59, just before ascending above the clouds at 9:01AM. All clouds with bits of farm and coast below before landing at Toamasina at 9:43. DUE to leave at 10:10, announced on-schedule, but so are two other blinking flights announced for various destinations at 6:40AM and 7:30AM, so I'm not very confident. A few shops, rain outside, and I sit inside and look at people, sorry I left my bag and book and camera on the plane-seat, and then outside to look at taxi drivers waiting for clients, fathers with kids who sit in their cars, and self-important people who talk with each other while waiting for who knows what. I avoid talking with almost anyone in the group while Ken is very gregarious and John tries to be nice, but talks incessantly only about his travels and meals and banking conquests. Call for boarding at 10:36 after a rumor that the pilot was waiting for news of his wife having a baby, but a later story had it that he wanted to return to Tana because of the rain, and only a letter of authorization from someone persuaded him to pursue his original itinerary. Off at 10:48, my new seatmate a young Chinese smooth-faced man who sits with his eyes closed through the entire 15-minute trip. Some breaks in clouds show coastlines, bays, ocean currents, farmland. #19---as we take off---of the rush huts that seem endemic here. Ken corrects flight time to 45 minutes after we fly for 20 and I fantasize we're going all the way to Africa to find a proper landing spot out of the rainclouds. #20 at 11:22, #21 at 11:29, hoping to get SOME impression of the mysterious feeling of flying through MADAGASCAR clouds with nothing visible below. Land at 11:32 and sit in lobby waiting for our assembly of taxis to get our luggage, which finally appears behind a tiled bench and assembles with lots of boxes that Roland's brought, including the shrimp we have for dinner tonight. #22 phone number 48 for Ken's brother who collects low phone numbers at 12:07. Leave at 12:15 and drive along an extended village that seems centered along the road, people washing clothes, tending children, riding bicycles, cattle munching grass, palm trees---[and some tiny frog goes hopping across the bathroom floor now that I'm typing for a long time at 5:15AM]---and get through concrete posts to road lined with yellow hibiscus to a thatched dining hall where waitresses serve us tasty coco punches with just a bit of rum in them, assuring us they're made with filtered water. Lunch is announced for 30 minutes, and we get room 10, and get another key for me, which barely works. Across the sandy paths to the cabin with a surrounding porch, two huge beds lined with mosquito nets, though they say this isn't a very bad season for them [and indeed I haven't seen one in the bathroom where I'm typing yet]. Unpack, throwing lots of bags onto a shelf in the closet, and hanging up my now useless flannel long-sleeved shirt. Put on shorts and scuffs, but that makes walking across the sand tedious, so I stop that after lunch. Buy a second punch as we sit on sofas waiting for everyone, and lunch starts at 1:42, Roland sitting with us to explain birds and the river we're on. Good soup of some kind, and vegetables like last night, and I guess the shrimp on skewers were for dinner, but I don't remember lunch except that it had a hot sauce that we put on things, whereas dinner had curried chicken with a huge mound of mushroomed rice that tasted much better with a gravy made from what tasted like beef. Ken keeps ordering small bottles of eau gazeuse, which seem TOO gassy for me, so I have tonic, much milder, for dinner, and we drink lots of bottled water. Back to room at 2:44 to lie on bed, feeing worn out by the heat and humidity, and Ken insists that we have to open the windows at night, which puts me in fear of mosquitoes, but he has his way as I wrap myself in the netting later. Gather for boat at 3:30 and again sit around and leave for longish walk through village to river at 3:40 and into two boats, #23 of other boat at 3:52. On boat to 5:35, not really much to be seen except high-flying birds that are usually common mynahs or swallows or sparrows, but are sometimes huge egrets and some black ibis. Some few fish jump, and at one point our guide points out a blue frog that turns out to be nestled in a papyrus stem, less than an inch long, translucent and glowing in the dimming light, and everyone gathers around for photos. I take a panorama with video of some of the shoreline just to "remember" it, but think that Costa Rica had MUCH more river-life than this has. Pass lots of fishermen, rowers, and a few bathing-suited guys soaping themselves up for their evening baths, which I'm tempted to photo, but of course don't. We race each other on occasion, and at one point the other boat makes a great fuss about a spider that they manage to capture. Down a series of canals, some of which seem to me to be repeats, and lots of kids laugh and wave at us and Ken remarks, "Bob Zolnerzak waving at children!" Under a bridge, along a dockyard with people carrying lumber and building materials among many docked boats, some hulks rusting uselessly, and lots of people popping up on shores that I thought would have been barren islands. Papyrus, some flowering white orchid-like plant, tall trees with birds sitting atop, lots of close-ups of kingfishers, and back to hotel at 5:50, having decided to tip 10,000A to each driver, John paying for me and Ken, and then Ken giving him $4 for the two of us that I remember to note down. It's dark already, seeming to show that it'll get light early. Wait for evening walk, after dickering about price, at 6:30 with flashlight, both cameras, DEET, and binoculars, all of which are just barely usable. They joke that the guide goes back into the woods to cages to get out the tomato frog, huge and white in the over-lit background, but the enormous moth flying around a light in the dining room was obviously chance. Then he started pointing into trees for dwarf lemurs, fat-tailed lemurs who store the fat for hibernation, an owl that I fail to see completely, and a bird whose name I forget that I take multiple pictures of, all of which I'm sure are hopelessly out of focus. Sky is brilliant with stars, my flashlight, for which I searched for agonizing MINUTES before finding it in my dop kit, of all places, and we walked MILES through private fences, over growing tiny pineapples and huge clusters of vanilla beans, with lots of flashlights into trees, once for a barely glimpsed blur of brown-furred lemur, not seeing ANY of the "gleaming eyes" that many announced. I got VERY tired of walking, almost envying Mark, who decided not to join us, and it went on and on, I getting more and more frustrated juggling my slide camera, having Ken hold the flashlight while I had trouble changing film (roll 3), turning on and off my video camera, which never seemed to succeed in getting close-ups, and my flashlight when no one was conveniently in front of me showing me tree stumps, holes, tangles of vegetation, or ankle-graspers of vines growing along the non-paths we were for the most part following when we weren't on sand tracks or the main road: at one time a CAR even passed us. Leave for walk at 6:26 and back at 8, deciding to stay for the dinner of shrimp skewers, then the chicken that I said was cut like Chinese chicken: no idea what part they came from and where the bones would be. Beans OK with the green sauce, and a fruit dessert was good but I was so tired I remembered little, getting back to the room at 9PM to let Ken open all the windows he wanted, putting on all the lights so he could do that, telling all the mosquitoes where we were, and I crawl into bed at 9:15, bringing in my pen and watch and making sure the net is tight all around, lying on the clean white sheets of one side of the bed and getting to sleep even before Ken turned out the lights for good.

WEDNESDAY, 5/4/05: 5:39AM: Woke about 1:15, feeling comfortable, and again later, even pulling the sheet over me in the cooling evening (oh, had announced that a prior flood had come up to CHEST level in some of the cabins, endangering the wiring, and one cabin's wiring caught fire when they turned on their ceiling fan, so I heard that NO fan could be used, even though ours had been on for hours, and in fact was on through dinner, but then when I said something, Ken said, "May I have a word with you in private?" and I knew better than to question him and he said that the owner had told HIM in confidence that the fans in OUR section were usable, thank goodness. Brushed all the sand off my feet, washed my face and hands, peed, tried to control the almost-constantly running toilet, and then woke at 4:15 [could NOT have been the 4:51 I typed at the start of file 8, since I typed for AT LEAST half an hour before stopping at 4:55] and wrapped my coverlet around me to protect me from the mosquitoes in the toilet, of which there seemed to be none, and finally finish this off at 4:55AM, prepared to pee and get back to sleep before getting up at 7AM for our next boat trip to the adjoining island at 8AM. But don't feel like sleeping, and decide to check out how to FOCUS the camera, and then CHARGE it while we have breakfast, so get up at 6:20AM, at which point Ken gets up, and we dress and pack for the boat and then find it's RAINING outside. So I get out my umbrella. Sit on the chair at the desk and it BREAKS, a support having become unscrewed, so I put it on its side and hope someone fixes it. 4:21PM: Total madness and frustration. My feet ache from being in my jellies on the arduous climb to the top of Nosy Mangebe, then the guy comes up with a coiled hedgehog and a pigmy lemur for us to photograph, and I undress for a well-deserved shower, but CAN'T get anything but scalding hot water. The BACK plate has H and C, which seems to mean nothing, and the INNER plastic ring goes from F to W to C, or something, and the OUTER plastic ring just goes round and round, and NOTHING, in NO combination (and nothing really ENDS because there's no LIMIT to how much can be turned in EITHER direction) works, and Ken undresses and tries it, and we even call out the window to two girls, who don't seem to understand anything, and Ken agrees to go to the main desk to get help, and then, to add to the frustration, he comes in to say that the repairman is here, but he has to see JOHN first, so here I sit typing, while Ken goes to get a drink (saying that they SAID they couldn't clean our room because we didn't leave our KEY with them, and what hotel doesn't have a master key?), and now it's 4:28 and I refuse to go with Ken for a drink, having to wait for the repairman. GOD!! So all I can do is go back to TODAY: Breakfast 6:55-7:55, starting with rolls and toast and jelly, and the toast is actually warm, and I ask for hot chocolate that Allesandra asks for a cup of, and then Roland suggests we can ask for eggs. At first no one wants any, but then I decide it might be nice to have two eggs (not brulée, burned, but brouillé, or whatever: scrambled), and that starts such a spate of ordering that they seem to run out of eggs by the time Roland is supposed to get his. Then someone asks if they have onions, and both Ken and I ask for two scrambled eggs with onion. Then I ask for butter, and he reacts as if it should have been out but isn't, and it comes out in strength, and the eggs taste pretty good with the buttered toast and the strawberry and apricot jams. Then back to the room to pack LOTS of stuff for the island trip: bathing suit, towel, snorkel stuff, raincoat, sunhat, cameras and film, a puzzle book in case things get boring, plastic bags for my shoes and wet bathing suit, and we get off, as usual, about half an hour late when Roland comes up to our group, which has been sitting there, and somehow implies we should have gone over to the team in the work area who are waiting to come to the boats with us. Walk out the exit, turn right down the road, which seems like a rather busy thoroughfare with pedestrians, students, working men and women on foot and on bicycles, and even a few sales stalls set up with tiny items of commerce. Turn left off the road through what seems to be the main street of a village of about six or seven huts, people washing clothes or tending children, and get to a river on which two boats are waiting, and are told to go in five and five, so Ken and I sit in the front two seats of the larger boat, and we're handed raincoats marked with the Mercedes symbol in a maroon packet. Go a bit from shore toward a darkening horizon and are told to put on the rain-ponchos, and I pick up my A&K bag (which has already gotten wet in the bottom of the boat), and change into my jellies, and sit hunched over the poncho and bag as it starts to rain. Take off my terrycloth hat to see if the poncho cap is better, but it lets my glasses get wetter without an overhanging brim, so I put back on the wet hat. We go for about a half-hour, Mangebe looming larger and larger, and finally they land before us and we get out, being helped by strong arms of assistants, and I REALLY can't lift my feet very far at ALL, and we gather under a hut to watch the rain fall. I get out my video camera and find the display refuses to register anything but white beyond the yellow sand right at my feet. I hope it's only temporary moisture causing the problem, which will go away. We sit and chat, rain not letting up, and finally I suggest telling a memorable travel story, I starting with the Indian mission in Borneo, others continuing with others, and then the rain lets up and Roland says we can start on our hike. So we go into the woods but immediately start climbing on water-draining rocks covered with rotting leaves, and my jellies work well enough (no permanent damage this morning), but it's hard slogging with a shopping bag with my raincoat in the bottom, still wet, sitting under my A&K bag with camera stuff, having left all the other stuff behind on the table that they said would be safe because we were the only ones there, which wasn't true when we returned to find two or even three other small groups landed. Up and up into the thick forest, stopping to look at a butterfly or millipede or a particular teak or ebony tree with a history of its use, and see variously a small red crab that Don agrees looks rather like a Sally Lightfoot, and a five-inch black-gray head-down lizard that everyone seems to find fascinating and those with digital cameras take dozens of shots of so they can discard the ones that don't come out and keep the two or three that do. Some advantage, but then Don says he's managed to lose 40 of his 512 photos somehow. Keep going up and up, stopping for an bit to catch breath, legs starting to hurt but not really breathing hard at the easy climbing pace, the questions of balance and slipping uppermost, and we finally reach the top with a huge moss-sided rock protecting six or seven stone- and wood-carved caskets from about 60 years ago, some with bodies, some only bones that have been removed from larger caskets after the flesh has rotted away. Take two photos there, and then start back down the same way (Mark had turned back about 1/8 the way up, at 85 not being able to make it, and when we sign the log at the end I find that John is 64 and Don's wife was just 68 in April, and Don seems maybe younger than she is (and he is, he says later), so I'm second oldest. We sit down to water and beer (bought by room number) and have a two-course lunch of avocado-halves with shrimp and a good sauce, with what might be shaved cabbage and a slice of tomato, and then two skewers of darkly roasted meats that Ken and Allesandra say are very tough, but mine are edible and not that bad, though I eat very little of the ubiquitous rice. Starts raining again and we sit around a bit, but then the actions of maybe a dozen brown-backed lemurs in trees along the shore attract our attention, and I try again and again to get a good picture, but my photo camera either demands a flash (which obviously won't work at the 30-foot distance), or says it's OK but I'll get only a silhouette, or a video screen that seems misted in places where I want to catch the animal, though I may have caught a few good frames of the males' white-ruffed faces. Finally just resort to binoculars to watch their activities: eating berries, looking down at us, grooming each other, climbing over each other (one couple may have been back-to fucking), and generally having fun, leaping from branch to branch, higher or lower for the fruit, and finally they made their way to more inland trees and vanished from sight. The water was still opaque and dirty-brown, no one was in it at all, so about 2:30 I suggested to some that we could leave anytime, and everyone agrees to a person: I finding Allesandra sitting on the beach waiting to go, Lil (or whatever the wife's name is; turns out to be Lyn) going after the three who wandered off to the rocks at the side for photos, and we're into the single boat, again having to put on our cumbersome orange life preservers, and make our way back across to another VERY dark horizon, but it rains only a few drops and we pass other canoeists, and masses of people at the village pier, and again under the bridge, sometimes slowing as if maybe we were in very shallow water, or something had gotten caught in the propeller, but we finally landed, were handed ashore, and I started the painful walk back to the hotel, where I undressed and shit before Ken, and then tried to take a shower to find that only scalding hot water came out of the head no matter WHAT I tried to do, described previously, and I sulked while Ken said they'd sent the repairman to John's first, had no idea when he'd return (indeed when he DID come, he worked for half an hour without being able to fix anything, though they DID replace the broken chair with a new one of the same style, and while I was sitting typing with my towel around my waist, housekeeping came in to change our towels and immediately left). Ken wanted a drink, but I couldn't see that at 4:30, or whatever, so I said I wanted to see the ocean, but he wasn't interested, so I walked a little to the left and found not a bridge but a kind of dike-path separating a stagnant pool from the river dividing what seems to be two parts of the hotel's property, and quickly got to the steep bank of the incoming tide, pulled up a piece of bamboo to protect my jeans from the wet sand, and watched the waves roll water-hyacinth fragments farther and farther up the shore, watched a young man with a machete cutting up wood into what appeared to be a bundle of fire-faggots, who was later joined by a red-and-white-striped-shorted friend who surprised me by saying "Hello" as he passed behind me, and then there was a third young man striding away into the distance, and then a young couple walked past hand in hand. Watched the waves, getting my glasses salted from the spray, and about 5:45 decided it was still ligtht enough to find my way back without getting lost, finding another group at the inner set of chairs, no one at the bar, and only Mark sitting outside, so I went back to the room to find Ken waiting for me, and I said I'd come with him for a drink, but didn't want one of the tiny rhum arrangées and had a rather weak gin with a whole bottle of Star tonic, ice melting very quickly, and John joined us and started his incessant talking, and at 7 most everyone sat at the table and waited until Roland deigned to appear about 7:25 and dinner started with a pizza-like square of dough on which was something like tomato on one side and something green on the other side, of which I ate about half, and then decided to order wine nonetheless, getting a list after a long attempt and choosing a Versus Rouge for 33,000A, which wasn't as terrible as the other, though Ken had only a glass and a half, John only two and a half glasses, and my three didn't finish the whole-liter bottle. We had a soft fish that Ken was surprised to hear was tuna, with a cream sauce, and green beans, and I ate most of that, and when we had the choice of chocolate mousse or ice cream for dessert, so [here Ken interrupts my typing to use the john at 6:20, brushing his teeth] we mostly order vanilla, expecting it to be special, but they only have two portions, which Ken and Allesandra share, and Ken lets me have a taste of his, very good but he calls it too sweet, and then sweet Allesandra passes me somewhat more than half her portions of both vanilla and a somewhat bland chocolate, and I get back to the room to undress and take my night pills and fall into bed at 8:35. NOW I'll catch up on my notes during the day! Roll 3: #6-7 on island at 9:32, Mangabe 6-7 lemurs in trees to 10:30, then #9-10 tombs at 11:27, and rest at 11:42 on the way down. Lunch 12:34 and then brown lemurs, male with white ruff to #22, to 2:38. #23 "Welcome to Nosy Mangabe" sign at 2:43 before leaving. 4:45 open camcorder to "air" and dress and go out. Watch ocean 5-5:45, drink, dinner 7:15-8:30, bed 8:35.

THURSDAY, 5/5/05: Caught up on note 5, room a mess, packing to be done before breakfast at 7, and finish this at 6:27, fan cooling in my nakedness. Get everything ready, breakfast 7:05-8:05, again waiting a long time for bread, then butter, then hot chocolate, then mixed-up orders for eggs, John's recommendation for the cheese omelet being taken by everyone, but the salt and pepper are still good, Ken has jasmine tea, others other tea. It was still when I woke to transcribe my dream, but then just before breakfast it started raining, then raining harder, and we almost got misty while sitting at the end of the table nearest the outside, Roland having to settle for the nearest-the-wet. We probably will NOT go to the market before going to the plane, as planned, since most of it is outdoors and it's just raining too hard, and everyone's hoping the pilot will choose to fly, as he almost didn't the day before yesterday. We pack our bags but can't put them out because it's too wet, but at 8:35 there's a knock at the door and three are waiting for our two bags, the smallest of the three, of course, getting Ken's enormous shoulder-hauler. Just as they leave the porch the downpour builds to an enormous volume, and I hope they can keep my bag dry. Ken goes to pay the bill again, since after breakfast he said everyone was so busy with other matters no one had time for him. As I look out, the couple passes with their raincoats and bags. Everything is so DAMP: the tooth-brushing equipment is almost as wet in the dop kit as when I used it, the terrycloth hat from yesterday is still quite damp, and my umbrella is trying to dry under the still-going fan, though Allesandra complained about being COLD last night: no fan going, sleeping UNDER the blankets! Astounding. I pack the dop kit in the A&K bag, the only possible solution, and so just have the shoulder bag with which to manipulate the umbrella on the way to the main house for our 9AM departure. The plane leaves just after 11, and everyone hopes it will fly in this weather, though Roland pooh-poohs their concern, since this is NOTHING like the cyclone season, December-April, when the rain is HORIZONTAL and the palm-tree trunks in the direction of the rain run like waterfalls with the runoff from the rain-volume. I'm surprised that it doesn't feel very HUMID, even with the torrents of rain, but of course the ceiling fan helps. Take a puzzle book and The Purple Cloud in my bag just in case there's need of time to waste in the airport. Everyone's relieved that we're staying in the one of the two hotels in the next town that supplies condoms and mosquito nets with the rooms. Yesterday we discussed, since John is now officially out, that it's unusual to have five (and maybe six, though Allesandra was married once for a few months before differences of opinion about EVERYTHING split them apart) gay people in the group of 9, though we're not even sure about the gay woman's traveling companion (her partner was described as older, frailer, more subject to complaints, and just wouldn't be comfortable with this trip) may be gay, leaving ONLY the married couple, and, then, who can really tell about THEM? Now 8:45 and I'm already lots into file 2 and it's the 6th day of the trip, so 7 days for two files will fill up 8 files in 28 days, perfect! Decide to pack up and join the main house. 1:29PM: To the group at 8:55, Allesandra last, and fusses and fusses, and I SAY we're waiting for her, yet she STILL lags. Then FINALLY she thinks to ask Roland, "Are you waiting for me?" and he ejaculates "Yes!" "But you didn't SAY so." And then MARK hasn't paid yet, and we leave at 9:19 at last (though look what difference it would have made!). Through torrential rain and car-tire CASCADES onto pedestrians and cyclists to 9:45, past the village-strip where EVERYONE appears to be outside. Luggage into a row in the airport, lots of people waiting, and they gather and talk and I do puzzles and talk to the wife. Sky clears, but still no plane by 10:51. 11:25 nothing. Bags start moving at 12:07 as they WEIGH all of us with our carry-ons at 12:18. I'm 97 kilos WITH A&K bag. We're flying south, so sit on the right? 12:37, BORED with puzzles at 1:12; I did 16 of them. Kids starting to scream, too. I walk OUT to look at plants and flowers in sun, and get called back by a Black: "Avion arrive" at 1:20. But it's a tiny, maybe 16-seater, which unloads, loads others' luggage, the guy calls some destination, and leaves at 1:30. John says that Roland went BACK to the hotel to get us "cheese sandwiches," since we won't even be off the plane at any time NEAR lunchtime, since our plane is due IN some time like 2PM, and it's a 50-minute flight, so I decide to take out AlphaSmart and type this, much to the amusement of people sitting around me, and finish this at 1:36, at least caught up to date, trying to make the most of my time without simply emptily gabbing with everyone, except when Ken comes back for the information "Taillevent," and "Something else," and Allesandra checks that we saw a pygmy lemur rather than the smaller dwarf lemur. So I'm finished at 1:37 and still nothing much is happening. 1:51: ANOTHER plane lands, Roland not back. This carries about 40 passengers. 2:05, they're LOADING luggage into plane, NO phone at hotel and no one knows Roland's cell-phone number. No one wants to decide except Allesandra, who says, "We have no place to stay tonight except THERE, and if we stay TODAY, there's no guarantee we'll even get out TOMORROW." She talks to the Portuguese pilot she got to know the day before yesterday and he agrees, but at 2:08 ham and cheese sandwiches (and two or three vegans hand me their ham to add to my bulging sandwich) arrive, with Roland and our boarding passes, and I DASH on board to get right rear window seat at 2:11. Allesandra sits next to me and doesn't complain about not seeing any view. Taxi at 2:18 and off at 2:20, announced as an hour flight (which took us 50 minutes to get to). #26 our beach beyond breakers? at 2:24. #29 bends of river at 2:55. Land at 3:09, only 49 minutes, mostly above clouds, and bus leaves with us (having driven down to us) at 3:30. To Hotel Sharon at 3:42, To room 203 at 3:52, then down to wait for group at 4:04. Bus to zoo at 4:14, and enter zoo at 4:50, which is supposed to close at 5, but stays open for us. Take lots of photos, changing to roll 4 and taking to photo #19 and videos, can't figure why video screen is so dark until I hit "exposure" and move it around, and then it's OK. Roland calls me up for aye-ayes at 5:10 and we take dozens of shots to 5:30, almost dark. Out of LAKE at 5:41 in dark, bus goes at 5:44, and I take video of road, making total of 46 minutes gone of first two-hour videotape. Stop at ATM at 6:27, shower and dinner at 7:30 to 8:45, starting with soup that Ken says is curried and Allesandra says is tasteless, bread and butter, then "sole" that is really morue (probably cod?), thicker and tougher, but still tasty, and a good Pinot Blanc from 2000 for 3400A that Ken signs for, and a bottle of water for 2300A that I sign for. Check film and can find only THREE finished rolls. That goes to 9:25 as I stop packing and start typing to 9:36PM, deciding to check back for rolls of film. So I DID just start roll #4 in zoo today. Finish at 9:40, Ken already snoring away, breakfast at 6:30 and leaving at 7:30, bags out for 5-hour bus trip. Brush teeth, and bed at 9:55PM, Ken FEROCIOUSLY snoring.

FRIDAY, 5/6/05: 7:04AM: Dress at 5:55 for walk to ocean. #20 boats at Tamatave at 6:06. #21 sunrise (up about half an hour) at 6:08. Fishermen talking, solo men running or stretching, cock crowing, sun behind rainclouds, far-out reef waves, no mosquitoes, no water hyacinth. #22 boat moving at 6:16. #23 fishermen at 6:18, no flash, but I hope I get it. Fishermen row out, throw net, circle back, pull in about a pound of needle-nosed fish about 8 inches long, a crab about as wide, and throw back what looks to be a skate. #24 fish at 6:30, then to breakfast 6:39, having hard-boiled egg, lots of rolls, good cherry jam, poor papaya, two cups of hot chocolate, and then up to room about 7:02 to have Ken pay bill, 42,260A, and I get key and let in baggage man and catch up with this at 7:12, ready to pack and go downstairs. Both bags ready and out at 7:30, stop for water to 7:37, ATM try again at 7:50-7:56, and now to BANK at 8:08! Stop in village 11-11:20, a welcome relief from the hillsides covered with palms, passing trucks and very few private cars, many rivers, and dozens of little villages with their sales-stands, one of which Roland stops at so that Gail can buy a hat for $1.50, and at the village she gets sisal so she can make strings for both hats to be tied on with, though with too-short lengths. Pictures to #27. At the entrance to some part of the park at 12:38 and arrive at Hotel Vakona at 1:30. Pee and eat in LOUD-with-tourist-kids restaurant on zebu, since I don't want fish, and again for dinner had soup with the zebu, since I didn't want spaghetti. Start lunch with delicious carrot cake/omelet, with strong welcoming drink after rum is added, a Vakona Punch that is rather strong, and then we share a pichet of white wine for 12,000A, quite a bargain, so I float a bit for the rest of the afternoon, which is good because it's very VERY busy. Lunch over at 2:45, to room at 2:57, taking pictures to #29 of scenes of lovely locale and flowers at 3:11 and hibiscus, hydrangea, poinsettia, bougainvillea, ginger and even roses. #32 to 3:28, and lots of video of Lemur Island, with them jumping out to the shoulders to get bits of banana, not shitting on anyone, and it's magical to see the sifaka, black and white, brown and brown, and red-brown, taking to roll 5: #14 by 4:27 when we go back to the bus at 4:36 for crocodile farm. #17 antlers at croc farm at 4:43. #18 Nile crocodile (eats about 100 people per year) with flash on the shore far below at 4:45. Radiated turtle with close-up of radiations at #23, and #22 fossa at 4:46, beautiful black civets, named Cryptoprocta ferox. #26 tree boa and #27 ME and tree boa and #28 KEN and tree boa, kindly guide, good-feeling snake, and I video ibis and ducks and then we cross swinging bridge---no, #29 is Madagascar HERON at 5:18, getting dark. Leave crocs at 5:36 and get entranced with fossa and get LOST 5:45-6, going the wrong way, returning, trying again, calling, wondering where they all WENT so quickly and silently, and finally find the crocodile alley on the WRONG side when I see one lying OUTSIDE, just along my path, and I panic that it might get too dark to even SEE where I'm WALKING, but ahead is a gate and the white top of the bus, and I unfasten the safety-pin-type latch, not a lock thankfully, and say "Sorry" to the people who had been looking for me, and told my story to incredulous gang. To hotel at 6:02, get flashlight for the night walk, and that starts at 6:15 without Roland, who has to see to Mark (who won't walk up and down the stairs, but won't move, either), and I to condemn Cortez for accepting him and they blame it on AAA for some reason. Then sit in front of bus for long dark road to the guide and "nose-horned chameleon," which should probably be "horned-nose chameleon," about an inch long and I try take EVERYTHING with video AND camera, hoping to get SOMETHING, and he finds three or four of the little ones, and then a snout-nosed chameleon about three inches long not including 4-5 inch curled tail at 7:32, then stick insect, then something I translate as Mangasar---but someone said we should have been back at 8PM for dinner, so he dashes ahead to get bus at 8:18 and we're to dinner at 8:50 with SCREAMING kids that I shout out "should be quiet" and then the parents actually start shushing them, but there seem to be six adults, maybe ten teenagers very young, and then 5-6 screaming running stomping brats who finally leave so we can finish our strawberry ice in peace, having only water to drink, then up from dinner at 9:40, TIRED to bed at 10:18.

SATURDAY, 5/7/05: Wake at 3:33, then when Ken pees, I think it's immediately afterward, but it's 4:28 when I pee and shit, and Ken wakes me in bathroom at 6:10, when I try to organize things and my watch-strap disconnects, I stop charging my video, looking at some of the OK pictures, and sort things out before going to breakfast at 6:35, half the people there already, and Roland shows up and then goes to see about Mark and doesn't come back before I leave at 6:55, meeting Allesandra on the way in, and climb the interminable steps, admittedly easier in the morning when I'm rested, to start typing this after getting everything into my bag by about 7:05, and check to see that it's only 7:19, so I should add more to the tedium of the trip, sitting in the middle seat to get away from the sun when we turn from south to west, the number of workmen on the roadsides, hardly any of them sexy, though almost everyone smiles and waves at us, and I took pictures self-consciously in the village to try to get a taste of local life, but the trees are sometimes burned to plant groves of litchi or pineapple or banana. To the lemur island, reached by a ludicrous 30-foot row across on a canoe, but supposedly they don't like to swim, so are sure to stay there, and watch them leap from tree to tree, screaming at each other for no discernable reason, looking for food, sometimes coming surprisingly close (Allesandra can't stand touching them, but I try again and again and get rather courteously pushed away by a gentle hand, but their fur is WONDERFULLY soft and gentle). The crocs were somnolent, the boa-guide obliging, passing it around from hand to neck to arm for pictures, and the night-trip saw some eyes that he couldn't track down the pygmy lemur from, but it seemed to go on and on under the brilliantly starry sky, everyone jabbering on and on about the Southern Cross, and I despaired of getting everything at least INDICATED in writing, but I've succeeded by 7:24AM, so I can even see to my teeth a bit! Down at 7:30 to find Ken and Gail waiting for MARK, up to bus at 7:34, driver and Roland not on yet. It's WET out, but not raining, and it's COOL. They arrive at 7:41 [3:09 5/7] and we go. Mark is actually EIGHTY-EIGHT years old. Madagascar's symbolic tree, the Ravenela, is not a palm but a BANANA. To museum to find there are 59 species of lemurs. To walk at 8:18. Roll 6: #1-2 are SPIDER WEBS strung across the river! Madagascar RAIL runs past. Lots of other groups and few indris: one sits in a crouch until at the very end I chuckle to him and he gets up and MOVES for me (though later Ken argues that it was only a lemur, so I'll have to wait to SEE what I videoed), and second hangs high behind a limb so I can't see his head or connecting body, and the third is only a splotch of white and black in the midst of a mass of leaves and branches, and I'll just take John's word that there's a fourth in there somewhere. But it keeps on raining and the guide proposes we're not going to see anything more at 9:45, so why don't we try the preserve. He doesn't say how long it'll take, and we get into the bus, which goes at 10:25 while others look into the shop and Ken buys an embroidered T-shirt for $15, and I try to dry things out, my video lens seemingly clouded by moisture, which has been a BIG problem. We drive and drive, past the entrance to the Hotel, but go on and on, past flowering cortalaria (yellow, but also in purple) and villages and wonderful tree-ferns and large yucca-like plants that are Vakona, like our Hotel Vakona. Photo blue male cuckoo-roller at #6 at 11:35, scaring him away, the first that had that reaction, but I apologize to Tom and he accepts it. Video from "top" viewpoint at 11:58 after agonizing climb that has John complaining about an immanent heart attack and Ken complaining about not being told to bring more food. #7-8 at 12 of view. I remove a LEECH from my fingertip, which everyone says is an inchworm because of the way it moves, but Roland agrees with me, and it dies in his hands on the bus back to the hotel. Start down an alternate way at 12:12. #10 at 12:28 of brown-brown lemur. #11 self-growing strangler at 12:43. Back to bus, exhausted, at 12:55, and bus leaves at 12:56, leaving second seat vacant, so I sit there, asking Gail to shut my A&K bag, and look at the endless puddles and passing unattractive people until 1:40, when we're directly into the dining room, where I pee and wash my hands, give 18,000A tip to the guide, but he's coming back at 3:30 to take us on a "short, level" walk. Brie and potato appetizer, with chicken leg and fries for main course, of which I have very little because I indulge in 65 cl of Three Horses Beer, wonderful tasting, and have good pineapple, apple, papaya fruit salad for dessert, finishing off Ken's uneaten portion, and back to room about 2:57 to type this, finishing at 3:22, feeling tired and just want to SIT AND READ, but we've got the walk, probably nothing tonight, and dinner at 7 and breakfast at 6 and leave at 7 to get to airport by 11AM for flight somewhere else. Packing again! Trying to dry my umbrella and jacket while typing this, and I'm feeling no pain after the beer, except that my feet hurt. Probably start down at 3:25PM. Leave at 3:35, without Ken and John and Mark! Lyn applauds my "Spago-Getty Circuit" pun. Stop in Minsinjo shop 3:50-4:11, Don gets "sea jasper" from somewhere on the Malagasy south coast, and we're off bus to walk at 4:15. Video a Giraffe Beetle, the height of the trip, and enter the Orchidée Gardens 4:35-5:02, with four actually in bloom, though the season isn't until December. #13 orchid #4 at 5:01PM. Onto bus at 5:10 and off bus at hotel at 5:40, to find Ken feeling better: he's suffering from GERD and fears he hasn't enough medication with him. We chat, I shit perfectly normally, and then type this to 6:26, deciding to proofread what I've already done. Then decide at 6:42 this would be MUCH better left to the airport tomorrow and stop. Start packing at 6:48, and to dinner at 7:01-8PM, when I pay the bill after the good cheese and onion quiche and the tasty lamb with too many French fries, and a glass of rosé that was charged to our bill as a pichet for 7000A more, but Ken was willing to pay his 3500A extra, so I decided to let it drop. [The next morning they find six postcards to charge him, so he brings up the pichet and they actually refund him the difference.] Back to continue packing, having to UNPACK to get out my passport for the flight tomorrow, and will NOT unpack again to get my mefloquine, which I will simply have with dinner tomorrow night, which would put it rather in line with the seven hours earlier I took it the SECOND LAST Sunday for the first time and the time I took it last Sunday. Read New Yorker while brushing my teeth and rinsing with the rapidly vanishing peroxide, which was a great mistake, and will get ready to get up about 5:45 tomorrow morning for our 6AM breakfast and 7AM departure for the about 1PM flight to the far south and a two-hour drive to our next hotel and dinner. Decide to finish this now at 9:25PM, leaving just over 8 hours' sleep. Bed at 9:40, comfortable under a sheet and blanket.

SUNDAY, 5/8/05: Wake at 3:43, gratified, and pee, and then Ken jolts me by putting on bright lights at 5:44, when I have to put my dop kit INto my suitcase (after taking OUT mefloquine and cutting it with the scissors) and repacking before dressing and going to breakfast at 6:05AM in a cool morning pre-sun drizzle. At the last moment the guy comes for the bags, and Ken has the brilliant idea that we take the hand-luggage down so we won't have to come back upstairs! Go down about 6:07 as #5 and 6, with Roland and Allesandra bringing up the rear about 6:15. Papaya juice, the same good hot croissants, ordered two scrambled eggs and hot chocolate, and took my mefloquine and other pills with LOTS of liquids, and we left at 7:03, muggy, most windows steamed up. #15 stairs at 7:21. Drive a very long way, taking a "shortcut" around the center of Tana, I videoing some of the street scenes, but we pass lots of villages and workers as if it wasn't Sunday at all. Mountains and valleys and some waterfalls and he says we pass the "Continental Divide" at the top of one pass, and he's worried about not making the 11:35 flight, though some said it was an 11AM flight, and others said only that he had to check in by 11AM. We stop for gas and some people go pee, and when somewhat later Ken asks if HE can go pee, short-tempered Roland rather brusquely says, "Why didn't you do it sooner?" and Ken gets unnecessarily angry about his tone of voice. Arrive at airport at 10:48, Roland dashes in with tickets, and I buy ham and cheese sandwich for 5000A while others have nibbles and drinks, and then we're into the same waiting room (oh, started typing on the bus, and Gail [snottily?] says, "Would you please stop that, it reminds me of work, and I'd like to be on vacation," and Lyn smugly replies, "Isn't it nice that we can be so frank with one another"). Ken buys the Herald Trib with my 5000A, price marked at 2€, and I dig sunglasses out of dop kit, where I'd left them before passing bag out to bag-people, at which point I give driver $20 from me and Ken and Ken gives me 5000A for his assistant. Check in and we get passes and enter lounge at 11:20, read New Yorker, still waiting for flight at 11:30, luggage supposedly wending from one 737 to another. At 11:42 "Flight delayed." Board at 11:45, right seat BEFORE wing. #16 Air Madagascar symbol and airport at 11:52. One-hour flight. Off at 12:02, cute blond behind me who takes offense at Ken's "eyeing him" afterwards, and great views over varying, but not spectacular, countryside: #17 Tana FAR at 12:03, #18 farm at 12:04, #19 village at 12:19. Tuna sandwich and Fanta at #20 big town at 12:26. #21 river at 12:38, #22 river at 12:50, #23 clouds at landing at 12:52, #24 ship at 12:59, #25 mountains at 1:01 and land at 1:02 in Fort-Dauphin. Jammed tiny room, smokers. Bus off (one row shorter and a BIT more crowded) at 1:15 to Hotel Dauphin lunch at 1:50, through large poor busy town, seated outside, gigot of lamb, pizza appetizer, sorbet, and 65 cl beer. Leave at 2:45 to wait on line for the only one of the three johns that is open. Bus leaves at 3:03, #26 wreck-beach at 3:11. #27 mountains at 2:27. Leave village where we took photos at 3:50 (shared Meredith's rambutan at lunch). Leave stones at 4:09, having taken #34 and #35 at 5PM. Arrive at 6:24, exhausted from fields of sisal and endless potholes and increasing darkness and weariness and cool weather, and dinner at 7. They turn off light at 10. 6:37 to room 30, led by luggage carriers, next to Don and Lyn in 29, take #36 and #37 of bathroom and room to start new roll 7 and photo Gite D'Etape Berenty at 6:48. Leave at 6:56, group goes to far restaurant for shrimp-cucumber appetizer, chicken and potatoes, and gin and tonic while Ken has Crystal sparkling water and buys another large water for 10,400A. Light goes off at 9:54 and I stop typing before Alison Joly, whom Roland glances across the dining room to see sitting alone at a far table, and invites her over to chat with us while we have dessert. She doesn't say much of importance, it seems, though there have been incidences of lemur interbreeding, more often at zoos, and how Roland prepared a shrimp-skewer dinner that so impressed a British-sounding family about 40 years ago that they donated $5 million for the start of a preservation project here. Had some little trouble getting to sleep, marveling at the DIFFICULTY of yesterday, as night came on and I thought the bus would NEVER stop slowing to avoid potholes, look for places to pass slower vehicles, and not kill any pedestrians or bicyclists or ox-cart drivers.

MONDAY, 5/9/05: Wake at 2:53 to pee, and again at 5:52 to find the light turns on in the bathroom, shit, and dress as Ken's alarm rings and I turn on the lights and finish typing this at 6:16. Definitely swatted a mosquito on the john---no, it wasn't the MOSQUITO that was on the john! Finish typing dream-fragments at 6:19, Ken out of the john and ready for breakfast. To search for breakfast room: parade of SIX brown lemurs, many in trees, and two ringtails greet us! Finally decide that the breakfast room is NOT beyond us, and is in fact what we'd called the common room on the way to our room. There's a table for 11 as well as our table for 10. Bread and jam is on the table fast, and then with ordering comes hot chocolate, large cold buns, and scrambled eggs or omelet, the latter of which is much greasier than before. Back to pee, see two small lizards in the room, and finish this at 7:14 to brush my teeth. Use the last of the eternally leaking peroxide, a bad idea at best, but at least had the advantage of it for a few days. Finish this at 7:26, pack a second roll of video film, and go out to join the group. Roll 8: #1-3 ringtail lemur groups on garage roof. #4 map of Berenty with Moolah the guide at 7:37. Leppi (solitary) lemur at #5 at 7:47. #8 sifaka at 8:35. #10 mushroom at 9:35. #11 group at 10:14. #15 (?) Didieracea alluaudia procera (family, genus, and species of "spiny" plant in same shot with cassia yellow flowers). To #19 "crossing the road" sifakas, and much more video of butterflies, lemurs, and sifakas, but I still don't know how to label tape and still have the wrong time. #20-21 three sifakas in tree 10:57. Long wait for other to "dance" and only Lyn appreciated my slow approach to VERY curious sifakas in a tree, they as curious about me as I about them, and then two other photographers RUSH up and of course the sifakas rush up the tree. Getting hot and humid. I finally put on hat, having taken off jacket, which is now hanging to dry. THINK I'm coming to end of 2-hour videotape and get "low BATTERY" symbol, and tape-symbol is still HALF full, so maybe I have FOUR-hour tapes! Back to room at 11:35, deciding on meeting for lunch at 12, and hook up battery to lamp-plug and finish this to 11:53, ready for lunch, deciding to TAKE my camera and then return here to rest and recharge before meeting for our next walk at 2:45. Lunch interesting as ever, coleslaw bitter as appetizer, full bottle of tonic extraordinarily refreshing, and seafood melange best for the sauce, which I have with a lot of bread to supplement the toughish tuna-type fish, squid, and small shrimp. Walk back by way of the gardens, since Ken says he wants to look at the gift shop, and take #22 of "Spiny" at 1:25, and thankfully meet Roland, because I get totally lost in the maze of paths and when I point to where I THINK my room is, he points in the OPPOSITE direction. See Ken and the couple going to the SECOND gift shop in the breakfast room, and get to room at 1:40 to lie and chat to 2:35, when we're out for afternoon walk with Moolah in a vest that shows part of his hairy chest that turns Ken on. Leave at 2:48 to sisal factory, forgetting to take a SLIDE of the sisal-masher, but video the whole thing, #23 sisal drying at 2:55, #24 raw sisal, #25 sisal sorting at 3:15, leave at 3:14. #28 MORINGA trees at 3:22 at the museum, but Roland says there are THREE species, so I saw one in Botswana and one here different. #29 stones outside museum at 3:23. #31 Aepyornis egg 3:42. Out 3:55, others obviously bored and out before me. #33 zebus at 4:01 from back of bus, #34 gray-headed lovebird at 4:07, and 4:14 video "night-shot plus" stops me. Put in new roll 9 and #1-2 termite mound at 4:24 after going down WORSE hill than anyone else did, #3 sleeping owl at 4:28. #4 mouse lemur (behind branches) at 4:38. #5 dead hissing cockroach at 4:40. Back on bus 4:51, drongo on spiny somewhere here #??. #12 Allesandra's "autoportrait" of bus shadow against hills, #13 same in panorama. Leave 5:53. Bus 5:58-6:02. Back to bus 6:43 after using night-vision probably poorly, Ken saying he'll never go on a night walk again, and to dinner 6:55 to get Clos Ventoux for 24,000A, good white wine, and I even end with a tonic after vegetable soup with added cheese and croutons, beef stew with carrots and potatoes and zucchini that is tough as all get-out, and again a half-orange, half-tangerine for dessert, finishing KEN's after I finish mine, walking back VERY long way VERY tired, back at 8:18 to type this to 8:42 while Ken showers, cautioning me that I'm not going to get much hot water, but I'm so sweaty and my feet so sandy that I MUST shower, and then MUST pack because breakfast is at 6, when bags must be out, and we leave at 7AM, with Allesandra ENDLESSLY arguing over dinner with Roland about wisdom of stopping at the hotel BEFORE going to the airport, for whatever reason, and it sounds like tomorrow is going to be ANOTHER horrible day of travel. Go to take shower at 8:44, hoping for the best. Finish the shower in perfectly hot water by 9 and brush my teeth and finish this by 9:15, ready to pack before lights out. Manage by an incredible miracle to get everything packed by 9:30 and even passport and this ready to go into A&K bag and turn the lights out and get into bed by 9:40PM!

TUESDAY, 5/10/05: Wake at 5:42 and Ken's not put the light on and had gotten up and gone into the bathroom. I go to john at 5:48. Shit and dress and bag out at 5:58, still surprisingly dark out. Ken said I snored a lot last night, but it was amazing that, after a BIT of time getting to sleep, I didn't wake ONCE. Leave for breakfast at 6:02AM. 6:40AM: Wonderful breakfast: scrambled eggs, corrosol juice, which turns out to be the SAME as soursop and chirimoya!, and lots of very dry (I think untoasted, just very dry) bread. Back to room and ask Ken if he's got his passport, but he'd packed it in his checked luggage already and goes to pursue it if it's still here. I record dream to 6:46, Ken has managed to retrieve his passport from the bags, which are going from HERE on the same bus, but going from the HOTEL in a different vehicle, one of the factors about the transfer that had Allesandra violently contradicting Roland's judgment about handling practically everything. Wonderful cool, dry morning, surprisingly dark, since we're so far south, and the first ringtail appears only partway through my two-cups-of-chocolate breakfast. John claims the Tribune, saying he does the Philadelphia paper's trio in 15 minutes, and can usually do both Sunday Times puzzles in an hour. Sit contented waiting for 7AM. Allesandra highly recommends the Hotel Angeline, on Rue Rivoli, near Louvre, for chocolate delights. I decide we should leave early for the bus, since we seem to be in a rush, and get on LAST (before Roland) at 6:56! Sisal: a good production rate is 50 150-kilo bales per day. #14 baobab tree at 7:11. #19 is carving stop from 8AM-8:09. #20 bridge repair at 8:43. #21 fruit stand stop at 9:41. #22-23 brick truck at 9:57. Arrive 10:17 at Hotel Dauphin, pee, and sit in restaurant, leaving at 11:30 after early lunch of zebu tongue salad, red sausage and fries, and chocolate mousse and large tonic, finishing some of Allesandra's flan. Out to bus at 11:37. To airport 12:10. Fantastic Bernese albatross-loving traveling couple chat. Go to weigh selves and handbags at 12:21. Free drink, a Caprice orange, which is pretty bad. #27-28 mountains from Fort-Dauphin airport 12:33 (12:50 is flight time??). Board 12:57. Take off at 1:08, next-to-front seat on right, just opposite engine, perfect. #30-31 coast by 1:11. #32 coast at 1:15 and #33 cliffs at 1:27. Coast always in view, through clouds. At 1:55, coast is gone, almost total cloud cover, and I think we should be going down after this hour flight, but we're in a smaller prop-plane, not a 737 jet, so at 2:30 CLEARLY it's not an hour flight. Did the pilot die? But two pilots stroll down aisle and clouds begin to thin a BIT. 2:36 lots of ground visible. Start down at 2:38, 21° Centigrade. #34 of Tana at 2:47. Land at 2:50, told to shut off CAMERA. Baggage loaded and we're off at 3:19 with the same bus and driver, I in the front hoping to get a good video, but it starts raining and my idea is ruined. To Hotel Colbert, partially videoed, at 3:57. Into SAME room 102 at 4:06, and Ken can't work A/C, but girl comes up and shows him how, as he'd done the last time. #36-37 Hotel Colbert at 4:35PM to clear roll 8 from the camera. Start roll 9 after I clear up messy luggage (we have LOTS of one-night stands coming up, but two nights in Nosy Be and THREE in Relais de la Reine. I do Tribune puzzle, very easy, just to get rid of paper, and Ken changes $100 for each of us, getting 173,800A for each, pretty poor, but what the hell. Throw in 200A to make things even as I see them, and start typing at 5:30, finishing this by 5:47, nothing to do before 6:30 dinner but dress and leave. Back to copyediting, MANY mistakes, but finally get to file 2 by 6:18, when I stop to dress for dinner. Bus leaves at 6:30, Meredith not realizing we're going out and has on only a T-shirt and slacks, but everyone's in a good mood as we get to the Victorian Villa Vanille, get the first table, and get told we have a tasting menu of 9 courses: asparagus soup, vegetable terrine of carrot, spinach, and peas-and-potatoes that Ken says are the colors of the flag of Madagascar! Also tuna with vanilla, a wonderful melding of tastes. Then main course on one plate of duck in vanilla, two different-flavored carrot strips, two kinds of rice, zebu in a sour sauce, and fish with combava, which they say is lemon. A trio, then quartet, plays a 16-string bamboo cylinder, accordion, banjo, and drums, and sing in four-part harmony with incredible ranges while everyone chatters at their tables and I try videoing some of it. Good food, and most started with the Villa Vanille cocktail, but I had the Caiprinoska, very strong with vodka and lime, and then Ken and I ordered a $20 Chenin Blanc, which was very dry. Desserts of peanut mousse with fantastic chocolate sauce, papaya sorbet/ice cream, and a warm pineapple barquette. We tip the musicians into their box and meet the bus outside, back to hotel at 9:50. I proofread more and Ken showers but then INSISTS I shut lights off at 10:52: he hasn't set the alarm for tomorrow, breakfast is between 6 and 10, and we're to put bag out at 10:30AM and leave then for the plane to Diego Suarez, tour a garden with a picnic lunch, and then go to a plush hotel next to the monastery in which we were supposed to stay. I continue proofreading on toilet to 11:18 and type this to 11:27, then masochistically go to proof file 8. Finish that at 11:33, having had to throw all the stuff on my bed onto the floor to satisfy Ken's need to sleep without any light on (except for the bathroom, of course), and I want to wash my face and get to bed, still feeling stuffed from the dinner and wine tonight. Finish this at 11:34 and get to bed at 11:44.

WEDNESDAY 5/11/05: Pee at 1:45AM and 5:43AM, and up before Ken to shower at 7:21. Dress and to lobby to 7:49 as Ken gets up. Start the Scientific American special issue in the lobby until Ken comes down at 8:07. Waitress pushes our table next to the couple, and Gail and John, and we eat well, I with ham, cheese, and onion omelet, lots of fruit, three cups of hot chocolate, lots of rolls and cheese and charcuterie, since we won't lunch until 3 or 4PM. Ken buys snacks that he grudgingly concedes could be for both of us, and then goes down to pay the room bill. Breakfast to 8:40 and when I say I'd like to find a drugstore, John mentions the Shoprite around the corner and offers to join me, which I gladly accept. Try to get Odor-Eaters, but they have none, so I get "anti-germ" powder and a spray deodorant for 5030A, for which John gives me the first three 10A coins I've ever seen. Back at 9, clean teeth and shoes with wet shoe-mitt, which I then throw away, and leave lot of laundry on the bed, which some say they did before. The laundry list counts a long-sleeved shirt as a chemise as a T-shirt, which relieves some of my packing volume. That goes to 9:48. Pack and put bag out at 10AM with Ken, since it seems strange the bags would be accepted at 10:30, when we're supposed to LEAVE. Cool and windy and clear outside, which is nice, but the deodorant still doesn't cure the funkiness of my short-sleeved shirt. Finish this at 10:10, ready for day. Get A&K bag packed nicely by 10:15, Ken reading to me about our upcoming destination, Antsiranana, also known as Diego Suarez, in the northern region known as Antsiranana. Most places have two names, Fort-Dauphin also called Taolagnaro. Finish this at 10:18 and prepare to go downstairs. Take water in MY bag for first time, and maid takes laundry. Leave to go down at 10:24, bus goes at 10:32. MANY AMUSING comments in the lobby chairs while waiting for the bus about my "performance" last night, which Meredith elected me for, and each commented on, like Don's "used that ringtail's tail so conveniently" and my "use of Mark so imaginatively" and Gail's "use of the multi-stringed instrument with such originality," and I'm delighted to be the center of attention, and all the others seem delighted with my going along with it. Roll 10: #2 alley with city-rise beyond at 10:34. Video road. Arrive at airport at 11:06. Read New Yorker with earplugs in crowds and talking. Move into departure lounge (with pass, and find that it has its own bathrooms) at 12:06. Plane arrives at 12:45. Board 1:15, third on, get FIRST seat on right, but it turns out THAT window forward is darkish, while the window behind me is transparently clear and used for most of the photos, which means I'll probably have a lot of propeller-effects in addition. Check with the stewardess that I CAN use a camera, must STUFF my bag under the seat because of the emergency door clearance. #7 airport at 1:27. Take off at 1:28. 1:50 flight, nonstop. #11 pattern at 1:40. Zebu sandwich and Fanta at 1:47. #12 river at 2:19. #13 mountains at 2:46. #14 with propeller at 2:48. #15 streaks (?) at 2:50. #16 river and mountains and swamps at 3:02. #17 town at 3:03. #18 fields at 3:05, #19 Glockenspectre at 3:08, #20 crater at 3:11, #21 crater #2 at 3:12. #22-25 before landing at 3:18. Two girls from some kind of USA-university-sponsored research project on lemurs who spent three months in Fort-Dauphin and are now traveling around for a week before returning home, one of whom exclaims that I have New Yorker magazine and reads it while I peer out all three windows, but the Nosy Be side, announced, is glary in the sun and I hope my slides are worth it. Last one out and get sexily eyed by a tall blond sitting behind me who seems to be a sort of chaperone for the girls. Pee by following Ken's instructions to find a guide who leads me through the madding crowd of hotel and taxi touts to the men's room, then leads me back through moved partitions and walls to the waiting area, where our luggage is assembled and we're out in the bright hot sun while the luggage is loaded into a van and I grab the front seat and Ken and John the back of a luxury Mercedes, which cruises for a bit over the best road yet, though narrow, which quickly becomes typically potholed and slow-to-swerve broken-up. Into cars at 3:43 and to hotel at 4:10, Ken and John and Mark not taking the cars to the falls at 4:25, start walk at 4:57, #26 waterfall at 5:05 with flash, probably not much, but video a lot of the moderately interesting falls while everyone takes pictures of everyone else that I excuse myself from. #27 kingfisher from afar at 5:10. Leave falls at 5:15, back over tiny brook with mud lining both sides, and to "picnic" at 5:22 of zebu, grilled wontons, great bananas, spaghetti perfectly cold, and decent vegetables like carrots and zucchini and onions below the tender zebu that we have too much of, finishing at 5:42 with dinner coming up at 7PM, but only Mark is hungry enough to start with Ken and John [5/12/05, 6:48AM] (who of course haven't had the picnic) at 7, while I look through Mittelmeier's Hotspots given to Angelin, one of the twin guides here. Note that breakfast is at 7 and we leave at 8:30. We're into car 5:45-6:15, stopping in town mainly so Don can get a glimpse inside the candlelit store in Joffreville, which Allesandra tells me is a TRUE "dead" town, since it's been gradually deserted since the French left in 1973. They all get water. We order dinner with Francoise, take bag in, have coffee and pineapple rhum arrangée with Allesandra, and I look at the book 6:50-7:33, when we eat, most starting with the crudités of tomato, cucumber, and lettuce, while I have the odd deviled eggs with FISH in them, yet good, and then the fish everyone has, VERY lemony, but I don't eat much, since I'd had the earlier "lunch." Allesandra orders a killingly strong Ti punch, Gail and Meredith have acidy Kai Pirinas, which of course I then translate into Caiprinias, and I share my pichet of 9000A South African wine with everyone, and conversation is VERY pleasant and EVERYONE seems to get along after Mark and John go to bed and Ken joins us until we finish with our fruit and ALL sharing Allesandra's honey-bananas, delicious, and out at 9. Shit and unpack the least amount and brush teeth 9:30-9:44, reading New Yorker, and bed at 9:47 before the electricity goes off, at 10. Don't bother to get my flashlight out because I have faith I can find the john in the dark, Ken having given me the bigger, closer bed, having to change his because one of the twin beds had no sheet under covers. No trouble going to sleep after listening earplugless to the wind for a while.

THURSDAY, 5/12/05: Pee at 5:03, no trouble, since it's light already, and still very windy, and doze until I'm up at 6:22 while Ken shaves and showers (and tells me NOT to open the shampoo envelope with my teeth because it has the most HORRIBLE taste he's ever tasted), and finish this at 7AM, ready to go up for breakfast in case it IS at 7, as I wrote down, rather than 7:30, as Ken said, but just NOW says, "Breakfast is AVAILABLE from 7AM." Feel GOOD about trip at this point. Photos of place to #32. Bread both fresh-baked and newly unfrozen with litchi preserves and honey, and powder for hot chocolate, and guava and passion-fruit juice. Down to room at 7:45 and put everything into blue bag out at 7:55, and catch up with this at 8AM, ready for the day. Shoes on with difficulty and pack and leave room at 8:06. Leave in car at 8:35, Ken in front, to N6. Cool and cloudy. 9:38 stretch break to 9:41: there really isn't that much to see: not that many people, not many shacks, and I even say I haven't seen a school and Ken insists he's seen at least one, and thereafter John points out each school as we pass. Many outdated shacks seem allowed to remain standing, giving a ramshackle-village look to the countryside. Lots of people sitting idle on their porches, but others are clearing vegetation from the roadside, re-excavating the drainage ditches, or repairing or seeming to prepare to build enormous bridges over nonexistent rivers. Pass over many bridges, and at one point pass a foot-long bright green chameleon with black markings in the middle of the road, which the car behind stopped for and photographed, even to, as Meredith told me to my disbelief, someone going into the bushes and producing a red-colored FEMALE for them to photograph. Kids abound whenever we stop. Stop 10:17-10:28 to pee and look at local shops, one driver eating cooked cassava root, Roland eating very yellow cooked corn on the cob. To Ankarana Park at 11:05 and others pee and I get brochure to 11:20. 37° centigrade. Off to trail-end at 11:31 and start walking at 11:38, Mark soon turning back. #31 tsingy kharst rocks at 11:46. #36 millipede at 11:58. Roll 11, #1-8 of tsingy rocks to 12:05. Video lots to 12:08 and start to cave, only five of us: Gail, Meredith, Allesandra, Don, and I, with Angelin as guide. Very hot and hard walking, very hard to balance on extremely sharp rocks with sharp handholds nearby and catastrophe if one falls. #6 cave-mouth at 12:18. Video in cave, hopefully getting some of the bats moving that Don says Angelin's lights showed, and out of cave at 12:33, absolutely dripping with sweat. Huff and puff up the steps and back over the "rock-valley" of the worst part, and finally back to the picnic table, where my shirt can begin to dry in a very slight breeze at 12:59. Picnic starts at 1:01, #11 baby crowned lemur at 12:59. #12-13 more lemurs at picnic-end at 1:37, cute guy eating orange Allesandra gave him and photographed a whole roll of film on. John obligingly goes back to car to get both our water bottles, adding needed moisture, then back to pee on rocks (and on a centipede, which Roland says is poisonous) and buy water for 1500A, and drive uninterruptedly 2PM-4:50, country changing from plain to jungle to mountains, passing "craters," lots of huge construction equipment for something or other, better and worse parts of roads, some few birds, some happy waves, some glum stares, and I tell others of my fantasy of shrinking Madagascar to a 10x100-mile island that contains everything we want to see without the almost-featureless nothing in between. I'm exhausted, nodding off from time to time, John sometimes talking exhaustingly, sometimes sleeping; Ken alert and talking reasonably, driver uncommunicative. We had ONLY air conditioner that was on, for which we were very grateful, giving driver 10,000A at end. To room 9 around 5, no electricity until 5:30, Ken HATES room with few lights even when lit, no hot water, holey screens and slats and holes through which John gleefully says hissing cockroaches have free access, as do tiny ants in the sink. Hot as blazes, and fan hardly helps when it finally comes on. I take chair outside to type in waning light, but find that I've transcribed about 100 lines of js that I have to meticulously backspace over for about 10 minutes, so I coax Ken out to the beach, just missing sunset, seeing bright red sunset-effects on opposite beach, islands across from us lit with small villages after dark. I look for shells but find few, Gail got all the best, Don got comparable dross, and Ken says he'll meet John at 6 at the bar, so I scavenge until 5:45, when it gets too dark to see anymore, so back to cabin to get up to hot bar at 6, look over side at nothing much, hear cat crying, and order three drinks for which John pays, my Cubano elected best and ordered by Meredith and Gail when they join us, and when we all gather I find Allesandra's cinnamon rhum arrangée SMELLING nice but tasting totally alcoholic, while I order a ginger, which smells too mildly but tastes BEST of all we've tried. Drink a lot, tell smutty stories, Meredith is drunk and almost flirting, insisting Ken tell SOME story on himself, which I now (6:27AM the next morning) confirm that he never told her: "If she insists, I'll think of something to tell her." Vegetable soup good with scallions AND onions, probably potatoes and other greens, then actually rather palatable calamari with potatoes and green beans, of which I eat little, and since we had so much to drink, Ken insists on sharing only a large bottle of Crystal, which suffices. Ken proclaims Hotel Baobab worst he's ever stayed in, though Allesanda says that during her backpacking days this would be luxury. She swam, as did John, looking walrus-like in his clear-skinned distended belly and droopy tits. Lyn, blessedly, did NOT have the shits during the day that she had had last night, taking 6 Pepto-Bismol and 4 Lomotil to plug her up. John describes fabulous ship from website Adelaar that had great food and took him to Flores, Komodo, and Sumbava, which I'd like to take, and Ken says no. We drink to 7:30, then move to table (other table for 12 remains empty) for dinner, over at 8:30, back to room to shower in cold, yet refreshing, water, Ken refusing snottily to allow one of his two towels to hold up the falling-down toilet seat, and I'm out to find him seemingly asleep (though he insists he wasn't sleeping!) in the chair, so I go to bed at 9:04, lying a bit in the heat, having moved the fan to cool HIM and not me.

FRIDAY, 5/13/05: Wake at 2:05 to fall back asleep to 4:20, when I feel my way to pee, then back to doze until Ken wakes and I ask if I can turn light on, he shits and comes out to say I can, so I start typing at 5:55AM: Finish typing the two dreams to 6:04AM. Finish gratefully at 6:36AM, room warming up already, Ken ejaculating, "Damn, I wish I could SEE," as he tries fumbling with his luggage. FIRST hotel that didn't have a BLANKET on the bed. Leave for breakfast at 6:48AM. It's not supposed to be until 7:30, but we get seats facing AWAY from the sun, which is a great advantage, and starting at 7:10 slowly out come bread, pineapple jam, honey, butter at last, then greasy but good omelets, lots of hot chocolate laced with honey and sweetened, thick condensed milk, to 7:48. Back to room to put out blue bag, still suspiciously roomy, at 8, and pack very little into the A&K bag and type this by 8:10, prepared to sunscreen up for the 45-minute open-boat ride across to Nosy Be at 8:30. Bags get taken away and we're to beach to find we may have to wade into water to get into the boats, another example of Roland not telling us enough. Ken is content to take off his shoes and socks, but I sit next to Meredith and say, "It's part of my optimism that I'll keep my shoes on, sure I can get into one of the boats without getting my feet wet," and I give my bag to the guy manning the boat with the awning, which would be nice against the sun, but its anchor is in the deeper water, meaning that the propeller in the rear keeps it far from shore, making legs wet to the knee mandatory, but he sees my shoes and takes my bag to the awning-less boat, saying I won't get my shoes wet, because the bow rests on the sand, and I can sit on it and swivel aboard with dry shoes. Do so as Roland keeps insisting, "Five to each boat," and I'm the fifth on the open boat, with Ken and the couple and Meredith, so Roland gets off and then Allesandra begs to come on THIS boat because she doesn't want to be on the same boat with Roland, but I beg my case with Ken and my shoes and she says she understands and resigns herself to sitting NEXT to Roland (as she ends up doing at dinner that night) despite her antipathy (maybe I should say their MUTUAL antipathy). Off in boat at 8:26, #15-16 at 8:33 the last views of "Baobab Point," lacking my memory of the Anfisa-like name of our departure point. Land at 8:59 after a windy crossing where the boats alternate leading, passing small fishing boats, large tourist sails in the distance, and square-backed cargo ships that someone says look like pirate ships. I manage to keep my arms out of the sun under my life-jacket, which Ken insists we all put on. #17 boat dock at 9AM. Decide on 500A apiece for a tip, I give 1000A for me and Ken, but someone grabs 2000A from Mark and runs away, so less is handed to the boatmen, who look unhappy, but we go to the bus and ignore them. Tough! #18 boats in Nosy Be. #19 Hellville 9:24. #20 ylang-ylang plantation. #22 MALE papaya tree only pollen at 9:40. #23 spider web 10:06 before videos inside perfume factory that purifies ylang-ylang, citronelle, vanilla, and other odors for sale to mostly French perfume producers. #24 pepper drying for three days at 9:44. #25 gecko 9:57 in shop where I buy a 12,000A basket with ylang-ylang extract and sachet, and she adds a "cadeau" of citronelle extract, and I think I maybe should have bargained, but others say there really isn't bargaining here. Shop to 10:08, sitting outside while others shop inside. Allesandra relays the aphrodisiac recipe: 2-3 drops of ylang-ylang in honey after eating. Leave shop 10:13. #?? pied chameleon on road with INCREDIBLE colors concentrated around the eyes. Stop in Hellville Market to #31, lots of videos to 10:50, others shopping way beyond the "20 minutes" allotted. #32 I ask woman for facial goo, she agrees to "Decoration" and when I try further, she says "mas-un-dwan," which Roland says can be used for makeup, sunscreen, or headache. End shopping at 11:06. At 11:35 we stop at entry to "sacred tree" and argue about fee with the roadblock guy, who resorts to a cell phone when the driver lifts the barrier himself. Enter at 11:23. #33 black lemur at 11:34. We have to take off hats, shoes and socks, and put on sarongs, and I retort, "But I refuse to stand on my head," and retort harder after Roland rebukes, "Why would you do that?": "Why would we do ANY of this!" #36 skirts on four of us at 11:38. Tree is banyan of undetermined species, "found nowhere else, usual banyan has white bark, this is brown-black," and so old no one knows, and so tangled no one can tell original tree. Great mass, but seemingly not much height. [Ken interrupts for john at 6:36, saying he knows there's no water.] #37 sacred tree interior at 11:48. I don't have roll 12 in pack, so no more pictures until hotel. Women in Madagascar use OIL in condoms for HAIR pomade, which makes everyone laugh. Video black lemurs and we leave at 12:14, shoed again, back of bus VERY hot, but I have the luxury of lolling over next-rear seat to be able to look out low windows while three stew in rear seat and Roland takes death seat. Reversal after puts me in second row by door, John in death seat, and others fairly well reversed, except that NOW they connect the fan that didn't work before in the back. To hotel at 12:41, heartening light in reception area, but get to room 26 at 12:50 to find no lights and no water. Tear bags apart to leave laundry in MY laundry bag from some foreign town, one complete wardrobe for an unannounced price, at 1:07, with Ken. Into truck at 1:11 (had been given 20 minutes to change to swimming stuff and we almost did it) and to Kokoa at 1:30. They have only THREE lobsters, so we're back to car at 1:35 to "Chez Ernest Langoustine House" at 1:40 and sit at crowded, hot table, fanning ourselves with grape-leaf placemat, looking at sexy bald guy and I say to Ken, "Look at THAT!" and when he says, "What do you mean?" Allesandra convulses us by saying, "I know what he means!" and later debates if I think he would be into her or me. Um. Don [KEEP calling him TOM for some reason, NOT the following incident-wise] and Lyn astound us with their two visits to the Tom of Finland foundation, in his former home, for "appreciating" the art! We finally get served, going through TWO big bottles of Three Tigers for which Ken pays 6000A, and PLATTERS of 1) HUGE carapaces with assortments of meats, 2) WHOLE smaller ones, 3) HALVED smaller ones, with varying tastes, all improved with lime, having textures of meat, served with rice, and then fruit for dessert, all of which we finish to the last morsel to 3:13, sated. To CHANGE in floor-shitty john after being waved "to house on beach" and trying a disco but being led to a bar-resto at the beach, where I laboriously change into snorkel gear only to be told that snorkeling is TOMORROW! Leave stuff with Ken, who's reading, and wade off to finally reach neck-deep, seeing only leaves in windrows, sandy bottom, and dead barnacles and one live limpet on shore rocks. Into water maybe 3:30, out at 4:20 by Ken's watch. We gather slowly and back to hotel at 5, electricity STILL off, so I go to pool to ask someone who might be Dutch where the shower is, try to soak off salt, watch a spectacular sunset too late to get cameras with Don and Lyn until maybe 5:45, back to room to find lights, water, and nonworking bedroom fan, but feel tacky in sweltering room and shower AGAIN, managing to jam showerhead into holder for rinsing off, write small notes to 6:41, to dinner at 6:56 after finding way to turn on ceiling fan, and get back at 8:40 after poor lobster-mayonnaise-pineapple salad when Ken demands his hot gazpacho back, awful tough duck leg while Ken has tasty breaded maybe-sole fish, and my lemon tart isn't bad but his coconut ice cream fails. Roland sits quietly, obviously unhappy, across from me with beer he didn't order and fusses about. I have two tonics because they don't have a big one, and try Ken's Malagasy Gris, which is maybe OK without ice but turns dreadful with added ice. Back at 8:40, Ken insisting that I only use the mosquito net, since we've divided the adjacent beds and he insists the net won't stretch over both (as if he deigns NOT to "share the same net" with me), he'll be cooler outside, so I just go along as he sits writing postcards and I get into bed at 8:55. Stopped at desk to staple watch strap THREE times strongly when I lost a bit of attachment for one of the little staples that I'd applied at home before leaving. Small trouble falling asleep while sweating, but finally do after he gets into bed. Fan hardly comes through netting, it's true, but I wake a few times to find it SOMEWHAT cooler, to my relief.

SATURDAY, 5/14/05: 5:50AM: Begin typing and finish now at 6:59, Ken waiting for me to finish this and dressing before breakfast at 7, early for 7:30. Breakfast 7:05-7:55, search a WHILE for postcards to 8:01, and write them to Fred, Sherryl, and Mildred to 8:09, since there will be a delivery this morning from Hellville. Wash face with "toilet water," since we have no water or electricity, pack for the day and leave room at 8:28. To pier at 9:04, to boat at 9:08. Roll 12: #1-2 of Nosy Be harbor at 9:12. To boat at 9:13 to Nosy Kombu (nearest island to Ankify, where we stayed last), the "Isle of Lemurs." #3 boat and village at 9:20. #4 VERY shaky panorama, #5 LESS shaky panorama at 9:28. #6 Nosy (which MEANS island) Kombu village at 9:31. #7 tablecloths at 9:40. #8 sapphires through tablecloth at 9:47. #9 kids, #10 lava house on village street at 9:53, 88-year-old diabetic Mark walking barefoot on sharp lava pathways up partway before he goes back down with Roland. #11-19 green male and orange female chameleons on attractive keeper (who repeated "MERCI" increasingly threateningly when no one seemed to tip him), who used his chameleons for photographs and videos, to 10:25. Black male and brown female "black lemurs" also climb all over us for bananas. Then shopping row at 10:45, #27 model "botry" boat at 10:48. #28 masks at 10:52-11:15 market. STILL wait for Gail to bargain to 11:20, at last onto boat. #29 last of Nosy Kombu contact at 11:31, with #30. Land at 11:57 on beach, undress to bathing suit (put on before) and T-shirt to 12:02, and Meredith swims out to "buddy" me and Allesandra joins us and we point out various schools and dead coral and living coral and nice fish until Philippe joins us and leads us to a small sea turtle that we follow for a bit, then we're on our own for about an hour until we're called to lunch at 12:55. Sit at communal table for crabs cracked by Coke-bottle bottoms, whole barracuda, green papaya shreds, curried rice, and started with strong sip of rum, one free Coke, one bought Coke for 2000A laced with rum free, very tasty, and then go back into the water to find a needlefish, a long-finned angelfish, larger and larger parrotfish, and a cuttlefish that squeezes into a small hole as I come by, when it was about a square foot in brownish size, and we wait but he doesn't come out. I drift mesmerized over "a bit of Eden" that Allesandra joins me for: a conglomeration of coral with dozens of fish on one side: colors, sizes, neon-bright-blue cleaners, passing parrotfish, then a coral of blue tips with tiny blue fish hiding among them with a school of light green fish an inch long a foot away. Out exhausted about 3, Allesandra also feeling dizzy, and wipe off and get onto boat dressed as is to take #32 of picnic isle at 3:40. 3:55 car to hotel [Mark's SHOES that EVERYONE cooperates to buy in Hell 4-4:10PM] and back to hotel at 4:26 to no lights and no water. Ken demands a lantern and we get one, but try to turn it down and eventually it goes out, so we go for drink, tonic still cool from the fridge, as is the beer at dinner with fabulous lobster and zucchini and eggplant, with gazpacho to start and creme caramel to finish when they have only two lemon tarts left with three takers/wanters. Meal devolves into acrimony when we learn that we have to make a WET landing tomorrow before going to the AIRPORT for the flight to Tana, and Gail and Meredith are particularly incensed about Mark's walking in his bare feet, Roland countering that there was NO phone service to Tana, and he couldn't just leave him behind. Breakfast tomorrow at 7 and leave at 8, and we're back to room to find lantern out. I go to desk, where they say it can't be fixed at 9PM, but they'll bring another from the dining room when people finish eating about 10. To room for shower, water dwindling at end, brush teeth while Ken tries and fails to flush and get any shower water, but then the LIGHTS go on, and porter dutifully comes to tell us we won't need the lantern anymore, and finally Ken tries again with the water and it works at 9:30. I type this to 10:09, Ken sprawled on his bed. Bed at 10:15. Can't sleep: cooler than last night, and I start Actualism 2-3 times but never get beyond Ruby Red. Damn dogs start barking again and I boredly count to 76 or so before noise stops or I doze off. At 11:50 I start a coughing jag, so I'm up to pee, which I hadn't done before bed (nor recorded my broken right index-fingernail trying to put on my flippers the second time; nor my bone-deep shin-knock on right shin on bed in the early evening that I just let dry, both of them [stupidly?] without bothering with antibiotics), and drink water and hunt out my Fisherman's Friends, which I take two of and manage to stay awake before they dissolve completely, and put out mefloquine for tomorrow, which I also previously forgot to do.

SUNDAY, 5/15/05: Wake again at 1:05AM, then 3:55AM, then 4:56AM, and up to put on bathrobe and go to john to shit a looser shit than ever before, and type this to 5:14AM, now going to my dream, which I type to 5:18AM. Wipe a long time and get a match to cover stink. No visible mosquitoes but I DO have bites, and the start of a rash inside my right ankle and the right shin-wound has a deep blood clot over it. Back to bed at 5:23AM. Complete Actualism, first of trip, to 6:20, then try Ken's and my ten-trip list to 6:25 and shit loose enough that I take my first Imodium at 6:36, Ken feeling good [he NOW tells me he took Lomotil and DIDN'T feel that good, as EVERYONE except Meredith and Gail didn't feel good---Don so bad that Lyn thought he might cancel the trek, so she wouldn't go, which would have left me ALONE on the trek, so of course I wouldn't have gone]. Breakfast at 7:03. Bill not ready. Ken can't name 10th trip, 8:42 bill still not ready. Bill 45,000A by 8:50 and girl checks fridge bar OK; electricity OFF at 7:56, ALL packed. Pee and LAST flush. "Vignette" on bill is "tax." Leave room CARRYING luggage at 8AM PRECISELY (others trying to carry luggage-size luggage were relieved by porters, so none of them thought EITHER of my bags were other than carry-ons). Ours are the first two bags for the bus. At 7:59 we sit and wait and hear news that "Allesandra can't move, took first Cipro, can she just taxi to airport?" Three of us leave at 8:32. Stop in Hellville 8:50-8:55 for "20 minutes." I wander streets in camera-less bliss, looking at color and costumes and interactions of people with hardly anyone recognizing me as a tourist in their midst. Lovely feeling. Hear congregational singing and enter a church with crucifixes all over, someone kindly moves to offer me a seat, but I smile "No" and stand in back and at 9:03 Don comes in to say he's here and pauses to show me a collection of wooden, ceramic, and plastic phalli that he and Lyn have found, before telling me they were also NUDISTS, so I tell them about MAN. Their variety has no end, and I sort of wonder about Don's (former?) (wished for?) (imaginary?) sexual orientation. Off at 9:07, #36 or #37 chameleon. Roll 12: #1 candle bush at 9:29. #2 fishermen and mangrove in village at 9:44. #3 pirogue and above at 9:48. Into pirogue at 9:52 and #4 huts from pirogue at 9:56. TOWED from 10:10. Video towing at 10:17. #5 towing at 10:20 (FOUR of us would have required TWO pirogues!) and #6 pirogue prow at 10:26. #7 barque and landing at 10:30. Wash and change shoes (and probably rip my chinos getting out of the pirogue with non-limber legs) at "drinking water fountain, so don't use too much" to 10:43. Cola drink (which he later charges as a WHOLE, as he charges their half-glasses as a LARGE tonic) at 10:50. TOUR starts at 10:46. #8 "clit" plant at 10:54. "Quiet in woods" starts walk at 10:48. 11:10 "lemur scream" makes five or six of them scamper high above us. Red fungus, brown lemur, green chameleon, rolling-eyed kid (guide's son?) who couldn't pry last two photographers away from whatever they delayed for at 11:25. #9-10 HUGE tree boa at 11:29. BABY lemur's eyes at 11:34. VIDEO snake at 11:47. #12 snake at 11:51, water from Ravenela 11:58, which Lyn predicts will make me sick when I taste a few drops from the guide’s machete. #13 starter canoe. #14 big pods at 12:13. Bird cooing. Out at 12:32 EXHAUSTED. Start to eat at 12:48 with LOTS of Coke and water; food, talk with Reunionnaise. 1:25 guide: Roland NOT to his house yet. So we leave here by boat at 1:45. Pay 10,700A for drinks, get back 3000A from Pearsons (couple) who are cheaper than I am, after endless dickering to 1:50PM, and going back and forth to Jean-Robert, who's making out his OWN account sheets on the stoop of some house [10:27PM 5/15/05] off the main path. Then in GREAT heat WALK beach to boat at 2:04, John-Robert (whom Ken read about in his book) the guide says 45 minutes. #15-16 pirogues back at 2:15. Told we saw a Macaque lemur for the "scream" and BOAS in trees. WALK to the last village at 2:40. Into car at 2:55, to airport about 3:25, seeing Allesandra MUCH improved, recommending visiting the Pantanal, but not Mali or Senegal. Ken talks of Mark, Ken, Allesandra and John's lunch to 4:12. All wander: JET (1-hour flight) due in at 4:25, out at 4:50, but not arrived at 4:38. DOES arrive at 4:39! Everyone lines up at "Depart" gate: sit on left. Board 4:56, claim BACK seat, borrow Lyn's hat to reserve FRONT left seat BEFORE engine and go BACK to return her hat and, salmon-like, fight my way (all the while with my back thigh hanging out my torn chinos, which sadly I never thought to take a picture of) back upstream to seat 7A, only five rows in first class. Plane seems quite full. 800 kph at 35,000 feet. CLOUDLESS at 5:07. 1-hour flight announced at 5:16. Off at 5:20. #17 coast 5:20. #18-20 by 5:25PM. #21-22 clouds at sunset. Sugar fires below at 5:38. Totally dark at 5:50 except for west sunset-light through opposite windows. Slow at 5:57. Lights below at 6:08. Land at 6:16. Onto bus at 6:48, start at 6:52, through dark streets with the lights of Tana before us, and arrive at Hotel Colbert at 7:23 and have fuss about Allesandra's room, and give 8-person chit to John, since I have to wash feet first, to room 202 at 7:40, with bathroom LIGHT going on and off, but by the time the repairwoman gets here it only DIMS and brightens, which we can live with. Ken insists I hurry, so I get out of junky old stuff and take all new clothes cleaned at Hotel Nosy Be and to dinner at 8 to 10, seven of us enjoying ourselves at "anything is OK" meal of foie gras, eau gazeuse, Chardonnay wine, passed everything, mushroom soup good, Allesandra eating and joking, duck good: John and I ordering both the same, though he recommended the pichet of Fougere. Start typing at 10:03, Ken demands, "Not after 11," and lies down as I finish this at 10:40, happy to have transcribed my only THREE-NOTE day, having a lot to do tomorrow: meet rest of gang for last breakfast at 7AM, get packed and RE-leave our bags, which were returned to us at our room at the Colbert a week too early, and I to leave MORE laundry to wear fresh in Paris for three days, and Ken starts snoring, and Roland goes home to his family rather than dining in La Fougere, which is MUCH better than the elegant dining room which I only identify when they talk about moving the lampshade whose light was falling directly into Allesandra's and Meredith's eyes. Lots to drink, taking half the gazeuse back to our fridge, and type these notes with my stuff still scattered ALL over the room, but finish at 10:43 and get to bed at 10:58PM. Forgot to say I shit still slightly loosely and took second Imodium before dinner.

MONDAY: 5/16/05: 3:05 wake but go back to sleep. 5:58AM wake with dream and have to shit, but just then Ken gets up, so I put on light and get another Imodium in case I need it. Start typing at 6:02AM. Finish typing at 6:09, feeling, as in the bus coming from the airport last night, somewhat sick, right finger hurting, nose dripping, and I had coughed some. Beginning to worry. Shit yellow-brown moistly enough to take a third Imodium by 6:15AM. Maybe they're so old they're not working well? Quick but thorough and effective Actualism until 6:40, then thorough shower (BOTH shins scabbed!) to 7AM, putting in Ken's adapter, throwing away my brown-underarmed snorkeling T-shirt and fatally torn trousers! Down to breakfast at 7:05. Huge ham and cheese and onion omelet, big glass of juice, assorted cheeses and cold cuts and rolls and butter, feeling VERY content, even asking WAITRESS for cold milk for my hot chocolate and for a glass of water (with ice, what a chance to get BACK at us with contaminated water-ice) and excuse myself, saying we'll surely be in touch by e-mail, shaking hands with Don and John and Mark, brushing cheeks with Allesandra, and Lyn gets up for an almost-on-lips kiss and a hug and almost teary eyes. Sweet group, as I told them, "maybe except for Roland." No one laughed. Up to room at 7:30 with two luxurious hours ahead for brushing teeth, charging video, sorting clothes, leaving laundry, finding more Imodium, putting Band-Aid on torn fingernail, filling the water bottle, watching CNN for almost NO news, put laundry away, take out jacket and raincoat and umbrella for possible poor weather ahead. Manage to close blue bag at 8:26, VERY ahead of 9:30 departure schedule, and Ken has been down ONCE to pay 62,000A bill and presents me with a laundry slip which he says he didn't get, and AGAIN to check on whether we should leave our left-luggage, which was in the room when we entered, along with HIS two missing objects from BEFORE, and MY laundry, so now EVERYTHING is clean, except my shirt smells already! Leave laundry and left-luggage on bed, returning May 23. Close A&K bag at 8:38, before putting this in. To lobby at 8:45, getting change, Allesandra buys Ken's 10,000A Legend book for 8000A of mine at 8:55. Finish May 9 Tribune at 9:07. Roland in at 9:15 as I read New Yorker comfortably, and Ken is down at 9:17. To car and his WIFE at 9:20, and driver Jeremy. Drop wife off at 9:45 after Shoprite water-case buy. #23-24 first day landscapes at 10:24. #25 rice and huts at 10:37. #26 Aluminum forge at 11:30, taking lots of videos of process and handing over 5000A. #27 Second melting oven at 11:35. #28-29 pot-making at 11:48. Aluminum to 11:51. Lunch at Au Rendez-Vous des Pecheurs in Ambatolampy 12-1:20. Cold cut, mixed salad, stuffed shrimp with too-rich cheese, then roast veal, lettuce, peach wine, coco punch, and a cone of creme Chantilly. Ken buys 10,000A aluminum zebu head for 7000A at 1:26. Musée de la Nature at 1:40-2:09 for 14,000A! #30 butterflies, #31 persimmon tree and aloe to 2:17 (turning out to have been in someone's private garden). #32 rice fields at 3:24. #33 carrots at 3:28. #34 gems at 4:14, today being the last day of the Fete des Mines, lots of people, but sadly the sun goes behind trees and the fire leaves the jewelry, including a 6-carat star ruby! #35-36 gems, #37 station at 4:23. Roll 13: #1 Thermes Hotel at 4:29 after gem show to 4:26. #2-3 Independence Monument with 17 tribes depicted at 4:32. To Hotel Camelia at 4:46. Endless talk of "chambre double," and get room 11 at 4:58, a tiny cot for me and a double bed for Ken. Put on long-sleeved shirt at 5:15, to chat in the sitting room over coco punch and litchi rhum arrangée with Japanese Aya, until Roland comes and starts speaking incomprehensibly, so I leave at 6:35 and find a staircase to a second-floor balcony and look at the stars and the moon, then back down at 6:55 to type this to 7:05, having moved dinner up from 7:30 to 7:15 because I want to get to bed as early as possible because light will be coming in our door at sunrise. 143 km today and 245 km tomorrow, a stay a day. Back at 8:34 after being served quickly enough, but Ken's cauliflower was mostly potato, as Roland said the soup was mostly. Grilled chicken good, mediocre vegetables, and rice. My bananas flambée good. Back and finish this at 8:35, feeling a need to shit again. Shit to 8:45 and take THIRD Imodium. Bed at 9:15 when Ken turns off his lights. Then I remember night pills and get up to take them and get a CHILL crawling into bed, which I'd switched head-to-foot to avoid the light from the doorway, which I attempted to thwart by hanging up my face towel over the lace over the etched clear glass between the bright outdoor-light and my bed, hanging it with a safety pin and a bent-out paper clip from my stash, but later shifted BACK when the light from above the bed became brightest at 5:30AM. But I seem to get to sleep quickly enough.