On our last day in Andavadoaka, we visited with the Blue Ventures people who had just welcomed a new busload full of volunteers. It was decided all around that our group had been much prettier as we were spying on the new faces becoming acquainted with the village elders, with Malagasy music and with Tocagas. One of the newcomers, a hairy brute from some Eastern European country insulted Ida by suggesting that she was in dire need of working out and offering her a discount membership in some exercise center. Ida, appalled, told everybody and rewarded our sympathy by showing us how she could crumple her tummy around her belly button ring into looking like a pierced butt. I just loved her. Earlier that day she had burst into tears over the disappearance of the supermarket’s principal employee, who she claimed, had been her favorite person.
Dancing with the village elders
Sophie, her long-time colleague and friend indignantly burst out “well, what about us?!” which made everybody cheer up.
We promised to come to see everybody one last time at the Epi-Bar after dinner and took off to not miss our good-bye meal with our Italian friends. We were on foot that day. As we started on our way, the sun set which did not perturb us as we had torches and we had walked the distance dozens of tines and knew our way blind. Or so we thought. Of course things are much different after dark at high tide, when the usual footpath through the mangroves has morphed into a respectably sized lake. Soon we were hopelessly lost. Arnaud attempted to steer us through the swamp by navigating according to the Southern Cross, which might have worked in theory but I called to a halt after cutting my legs open on so many sisal stalks and almost vanishing into a 2 foot x 2 foot hole in the ground.
Gaping at the vassa
Retracing our steps we were arguing about the respective merits and dangers of pushing on versus camping out until dawn when suddenly we perceived a light coming towards us. A glimmer of hope grew into conviction and then outright mirth as we recognized Marcellin, our pirogue captain for the next day on his way to Laguna Blue to deliver the gasoline for our trip! He and his helper attempted straight faces as they recognized our desperate situation and relief at being rescued. Vassa! (A vassa is a foreigner �" a term we had become intimately familiar with)
Back at Italo and Nina’s it transpired that they had been on the brink of dispatching a search and recovery team and had eaten already. Humbled we ate our good-bye dinner and then, spirits restored, had a nice talk with our friends and watched a little bit of ‘Deep Blue’ on DVD which we had never seen and which looked absolutely beautiful. Soon we fell into bed, exhausted, and of course never made it to the Epi-Bar.