Mora Mora...Slowly, Slowly..or perhaps die!
Trip Start Nov 01, 2012
86Trip End Jul 31, 2013
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Poor Rodney had a bit of a hangover so we had periodic stops to let him relieve himself out the window. Kerry reported at a later date that her driver had cried "He's gonna die!!!" in malagasy during one of these episodes as Richelle (our driver) took a little while to stop and the trees and bushes loomed close to his head. Quite comical if it wasn’t potentially true..the roads were extremely poor and the flora snapped at our heads through the window on a regular basis.
As we travelled through the little villages we began to wonder if the usual “Salama” had been replaced by a more local greeting. All the kids would run at the car waving wildly squealing “Eau vive. Eau Vive”. It took a while but we finally realized they were asking for our empty water bottles so they could use them again at the local water source. The kids and women walk miles to a stream, or if they were lucky a well, to collect water and every receptacle helped out. Of course we were more than happy to see our plastic recycled in such a way.
It was a long, dusty, bumpy day and the 4 x 4 was wearing thin by the time we reached a small river and boarded a ferry for the short trip to the camp ground. We pitched our tents and made our way to the small restaurant for a few refreshing beverages. Patrick whisked up a bountiful feast of zebu steaks, sauce and rice before we polished off a few local rums and crawled into the tent.
We were up early the next morning to prepare for our trip to Big Tsingy. We dropped into the park office to pay our fees (included) and pick up our guide Jetine, a lovely lass with excellent English. It was a rough one and a bit hour ride to the trail head where we unloaded and prepped ourselves for a 4 hour hike. It was at this moment we realised we were in for something just a bit more arduous than we thought. Jetine pulled out a climbing harness each and expertly fitted us all up. Hmmmmm...I guess there’s a first time for everything but bearing in mind the distance from civilization,( let alone good medical assistance) we set off with a real sense of trepidation.
The first part of the walk was pretty easy
We headed into our first cave which was a bit of a squeeze and then the fun really started. It was a 30m vertical climb with a 20m chasm from where we headed off. The rocks were jagged, the footholds small and wiggly and the view down terrifying for anyone with even a little vertigo. The guide would say “don’t look down” but it was usually too late as your knees began to tremble and you tried to gather your wits to take the next step up. Of course there were the agile rock bunnies amongst us that did it with ease but both Tim and I were both taking the Malagasy saying “Mora, Mora” (slowly, slowly) to heart and triple checking the carabineers at every switch. They were comforting from a safety perspective but in hindsight, and with way too much contemplation, they were attached at the waist and we had no helmets. One wrong step and you would fall into a gap surrounded by sharp pointed rocks from every angle. It seemed a sure recipe for cuts, abrasions and potentially breaks. Of course we were rewarded for our efforts with truly stunning views when we made the top but then began to wonder how the hell we were going to get down.
To cut a long story short...We didn’t die. We crossed a very high suspension bridge, balanced on several knife edges and contorted our fairly inflexible bodies into positions we thought impossible to make our way across and down through the amazing terrain. The views were out of this world and when we reached the bottom and realized we’d done it we were extremely happy we hadn’t known what we were in for before we left. It might have been that we’d have chosen not to go and that would have been a tragedy as it was one of the highlights of our trip.
We jolted our way back to the camp and enjoyed a quick lunch before heading into the Little Tsingy. Whilst the heights here we far less terrifying, the rocks were still sharp and the footholds sometimes tenuous. Add in tired, lactated legs and you might understand why this shorter walk was no less adventurous. As we descended back to a small lake as the sun set, it was time to reflect on a job well done over a few cold beers. Tomorrow we would head back towards Morondova and the famous Alley of the Boababs, something we were all looking forward to.