Montag, 25. Juni 2012

Karsten's Logbook Week XIV

Gate to heaven
A fairy tale

Get on the world's deck

Rocks are like ideas: they can lie in your way, help you getting over wild waters or just impress you by there massiveness. The Antringitra Massif has all of that plus a heap of surprises. If I would have gone alone here, how could I ever be able to enjoy the experience when thinking back and tell friends about it. Going with Klara was exactly the best thing to do, because she can not only compete an altitude change of 1000 meters in just one day and even learn Malagassy while we rest, she's also a great improvisor of songs and stories and love to make fun of herself. Of course, we'd never could have done all the way up without guides. Its all too easy to become lost there. So here we had two way different personalities, yet with the same ideas of life. Our guide Herailala, well English speaking, became a good friend and open minded teacher as well within a couple of hours. The other guide was 56 year old Elisabeth. In terms of personality, her age is crucial. She has known Antringitra for year. But she can hike all the 1500m altitude and even carry her water on her head as if she'd go for some simple shopping at the market. She was just as chewy as a the meat of a Madagassy chicken. Thus if I wasn't impressed and feeling small by the awesome landscape and mindblowing views, Elisabeth made me feel small and europeanly weak. Gladly we had some chicken with us. There's always one who is weaker than you....

Our 56 year old guide Elisabeth

Natural swimming pool and mild taste fresh water
Alien landscape at 2300m altitude

Lots of layers in these mountains of Antringitra
The best does a rest
Breakfast with guide Elisabeth
These awesome mountains
The massif is the habitat of thousands of wonderful species
Aloe Vera helps agains sunburn - we just had to cut off a small piece

Lemure Katas love stones
Curious lizard

Klara's first chameleon touch encounter

They became friends very fast

This is a grasshopper..!??!
Yeah... a fucking lethal poisonous scorpion I found while night and kept it for a daylight photo shooting... hehe

Finally my Zebu shot I so desperately wanted

And one of these chickens I carried all the way up to the camp at the feet of 2650m highest accessible mountain on Mada. The best way to keep chicken fresh was to keep it alive. I fed it as often as I could, before we killed it the morning of that day we hiked to a weird alien landscape of west Antringitra. Than at high noon, surrounded by the most magnificent plants as e.g. sunburn avoiding Aloe Vera cacti and dynamite grass Xerophita, we enjoyed fresh cooked rice with chicken while appreciating the greatest views. What did I learn about life here? Who - for real - needs McDonalds and chemical tainted food packed in colorful plastic foil?

Waiting for its fate


Massive massif

Village surrounded by endless rice fields

Guide Elisabeth waiting for us.. again..

Palm trees at 2000 meter altitude

the cloud in the middle left looks like the skeleton of a sea horse...


Klara loves freedom

Cricket attack

We reached a camp that had to trot out lots of surprises. Except for the intensive dust in their fix dirty tents - we had to take one of these - the Mewa camp lies between two spectacular mountains and close to socalled Chameleon Peak. It looks like a chameleon, for sure, and its worth the hike up on its hat. However, at the time we finished the fifty something letters and postcards we promised to make for our supporters, a giant swarm of crickets invaded the area. The clouds of insects were not new to us. We've seen them from far away before and also walked through thousands of crickets that couldn't really fly because of the cold air in the mountains. But this time, the invasion was overwhelming and vital. There were moments when the sun was noticeable darkened.The sound advanced into a helicopter's landing, sizzling and droning. Yet children ran around in order to catch as many of the insects, cause if they eat the rice, than people have got to eat them. Fried cricket tastes a little like fish with peanuts.

All of the sudden, it was easy to understand which troubles the people here face once in a while. Cyclones, dry seasons, crickets, political crisis - the Madagassy are as chewy as their chicken or as our 56 year old guide Elisabeth. They are used to hard conditions, they can handle it, live with it and still smile, because their simplicity is the key. All they need to survive is a Zebu, a rice field and children. It has always been like that. Although it lead them into environmental troubles now after some hundred years of spreading and slash and burn agriculture. 

yes, a cricket
Cricket swarm seen from above

Cricket swarm seen from beyond
cricket swarm seen from beneath

Great: Thanks to we connected four of their panels and were able to charge our camera battery without extras in between the elements

Working hard for the over 50 postcards and letters

good bye shot

The way back to beginning

Thanks to our guardian angel Klaus, we had managed to get our bikes into our final camp of choice. From there we started the last day of biking. After five days of hiking, biking is striking. Stone legs, body seizures, unbearable heat and an inviting spring close to the road caused mored troubles than expected. Seemingly, the water was not as clean as we were used to when being in the mountains. Digestion problems started soon. The sun knocked out Klara for half an hour. I felt like an old truck, unable to stop, but also unable to get up a hill. And there were many of these hills. Many many. We made 60 km, got us 1 1/2 meter of sugar cane for about 30 cents and reached Ambalavao, from where Klaus and Nicole picked us up to go to Tana within the following two days. But before, crazy Klara finished her official diploma in paragliding, driven by her love to nature and silence and freedom. How she managed to do that all withing that short amount of time? I fucking don't know. But I'm afraid I love her for that...

she's gonna do it
she's doing it

she did it!
because she can

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