Donnerstag, 10. Mai 2012

Karsten's Logbook Week IX

First Contact

Before I started this journey I've been overwhelmed by my self-made idea of Madagascar appearing to be a cradle of life. Life. What is life at all if not some kind of idea, a magnitude, that builds shapes and forms with matter flowing through it like water through a river that manages to keep its form, although constantly moving..

I sit on a little balcony made of eucalyptus wood and drink a coffee we bought in a little hut shop at the muddy red road. The coffee has a taste of fish and sugar. The shop sells fish as well. I assume the coffee will flow directly through me after I've finished my cup. Whatsoever, I will manage to keep my form. I watch Klara chasing green geckos in the backyard. Its a sunny day. Geckos love the sun. A good day. We want to relax before we start the bike tour tomorrow. We are still in Andasibe, an atmospheric village in the rainforest, close to the national park. I haven't felt that alive for a long time...

Ce n'est pas un chameleon

Tana, City of WTF

The capital of Madagascar, Antananarivo, was chaotic, dirty, stressful. Beggars everywhere. Once you meet a white person in Antananarivo, he or she warns you to take care of evil. There seem to be lots of pickpockets. The majority of people is poor. The value of our cameras could feed an average Malagassy family for a month. Thus it happens that white people have their own little cafés and places surrounded by lots of guards. Which is good, because the country can't bear to scare the tourists and visitors too much. The country needs money, but some of its people don't understand the whole picture. Maybe their popular saying "Better live tomorrow than die today." has lead the country in some troubles. Bad habits have scared a growing community of eco-tourists and adventurer. However, we are glad that we've accidentally met a unique guy named Klaus Konnerth. Originally German he lives in Madagascar since ten years doing some tourist guiding. His wife is a smart and beautiful Malagassy named Nicole. Both work together. It turned out that he even wrote the most detailed tourist guide for Madagascar. After giving us a nice tour through the capital for free, he helped us leaving the city fast and secure. Since the roads around Antanarivo seem to be an area without rules and therewith trucks are the reason for most of all deaths in Madagascar, leaving the city by bike straight could have been the beginning of the end.

Check out Klaus Konnerth's website With him a tour on the island might be worth it: individual, affordable and very well guided.

Tana Central Market

Funny: we had a coffee in Café la Gare - the guarded place for white and rich people in central Tana - only because they have internet for free. Suddenly we got to know scientific journalist Franziska Badenschier. Surprisingly she already knew our project and she recognized us after a second of melting the ice. She is focussed on the island's environmental circumstances, writes an interesting and detailed blog diary about her travels in Madagascar ( and - best - was willing to give us an interview about her work, life and opinion on environmental issues. She was also great in giving us hints and valuable information.  Chances opened up and she lead us to an analytic talked with her colleague and friend Uwe Birkel from Tana's university. Uwe teaches Malagassy students to communicate tourism at the university in Tana. For us he opened the doors for an refreshing insight into the upcoming generation of Madagascar's international future. His actual group of students talk excellent German and are very ambitious in their field. Neither Klara nor me expected such great contacts, information, friends and experiences. A very very good start.

Franziska Badenschier, scientific journalist, currently on Madagascar. Check her blog:

Interview with Janosh Heimerman, biology student in Andasibe National Park, working for Mitsinjo

Interview with biologist Sebastian Wolf

Devin Edmonds, Mitsinjo director of amphibian conservation (

Klara interviewing Jean Noel Ndriamiary, Vice President of Mitsinjo (

Hike through the jungle to a secret place we will report about soon... :)

Andasibe wetlands

Adventure begins in the Jungle, as long as there is a jungle...

And now, we are in the rainforest. We've had a five hour hike through it. And I can tell, it was one of the most exciting experiences of my life. When we had the first contact with the rare species of Indri we were thrilled. Shivering. Excited. Set up the cameras. Wait. "Mora mora.", like Malagassy say. "Slowly. Calm." Klara was sneaking off track through the forest. I followed one of these weird teddy face specimen deep into the woods. And then the most astonishing moment happened: He climbed down to me. With only two meters of distance this little monkey dog cat man creature had a very relaxed supper. For about twenty minutes he gave me the chance to make pictures of him. I've got heebi jeebies when I think of that certain moment I've been dreaming of long before we began our journey…

This is an Indri :)

Of course, we've got some stressful moments as well, arguing about how to make the film, when to stick to discipline, how to pack our stuff efficiently and well organized and we even argue about when to relax. But we can take it with humor and get back to teamplay. Klara is fast on her bike. Very fast. Too fast sometimes. You wouldn't believe it. I mean, I'm supposed to be sportive and tough, but… well… We managed to start the bike tour early in the morning. Rain was falling. Most of the time, we were rolling downwards east, to the sea. Beautiful rainforest hugs the road. Until suddenly, all trees were gone. Only grass and some rare lonely tiny trees covered the mountains. Apparently humans did a good job by playing the mower. For about four hours of rolling through serpentines with a speed of around 50 km/h, we witnessed human nature: where once was a thick green forest now a certain kind of grass all over the place prevents trees to evolve and spend shadows, water, oxygen and protection. And in addition to that, the sun was friting my brain…

How Coca Cola saved my life...

After arriving in the small stinky litte town of Ranomafana at the RN2 we were hungry like hell. A chinese restaurant was supposed to feed us. First, I thought the meal to be well done and ordered another plate full with pork. While writing about that pork my stomach feels provoked. After an hour and back in our dusty bungalow I noticed a change. After two hours I turned upside down. Probably it was a mixture between some kind of sun stroke and poisoned food. Nevertheless Klara did a great job in caring for me, but couldn't prevent me to spread my internal organs into the awkward garden of our house keeper. How much did I sleep? I don't remember. Most relaxation came from these feel free seconds after the.. I think you got the point.

The next day I felt better. Although nothing was good at all. I couldn't eat. And even drinking water just made me puke again. We waited until 11am before I was willing to continue the ride. After one kilometer, we had to stop and I puked again. Damn, I didn't know how much a man can puke. I though that was it. Here, I'm going to fall into the ditch. Fortunately, we had Coca Cola Zero. It saved my life and our journey. The power came back. Appearently because of the coffein and the aroma. Its not a real Coke after all. A little push to fight the final hills before the ocean. We made it into a lovely little village with a restaurant serving cold Coca Cola with sugar. Although I couldn't eat yet, I licked some pure salt from the back of my hand, bought a coco nut from a good looking malagassy girl, she opened it for me. Did you know that there is actually a freaking lot of coco nut juice in such a nut? Those supermarket coco nuts in Europe are just a joke in comparison to a real coco nut. I'm alive again. Klara is great in motivating people. What brings me to the formula: Coca Cola + Coco Nut + Klara Great = Clear to continue discovering the country.

Great Alpkit drybags!! Definetly the best trekking backpacks we've ever had!

What used to be rainforest is a panorama of grass and shrub

Thanks to Changers solar panels ( and our selfmade bike battery by Gerhard Harden and Jan Vallese we can work efficiently on our footage and pics even in the darkest energy free bungalows of nowhere
Some cool and friendly guys helped us crossing the river
The Pangalean canal
One can even swim in its fresh and clean water

After three days of hard biking, hot sun, sweat, blood, being sun-struck and a crab red sunburn we reached the indian ocean for one day off in paradise

Arriving at the shore…

Three hours of dusty roads later we shipped over a little river into paradise. Swarms of red and violet Dragon Fly guarded us. Here and then a mantis pointed out the right direction. Big crabs and giant snails decorated the last meters.  A couple of good old french people have built a nice little bungalow hotel between palms, a lake and the ocean. Dusk was accompanied by warm rain. The night opened her curtain to present the most beautiful and bright star ensemble I've ever seen. Swimming in the milky way.

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