In the Jungle
Friday, September 29, 2000
The local travel agency offers trips for one to three days to the rainforest. Since we only had one day left in Sambava, we took the one day trip which was already pretty exhausting. Our tour guide picked us up at the hotel with his R4. After a one hour ride in the car, we stopped in a small village to continue our journey on a pirogue. We went two hours down a river through the jungle. During the ride, we saw crocodiles and kids that didn’t seem at all afraid of the crocodiles. At the end of that part, we got off the boat, had some lunch, and hiked all the way back - which took us three hours.
On the way back, we passed a number of small villages. A village is a collection of very basic houses, each one with a small stove (made of a rusty rim and wood) in the front, and the people wearing only what’s necessary, given that it can get very hot out there. Surprisingly, there were a lot more kids than old people and I still don’t have an explanation for that.
During our trip, we came across everything which tastes good: vanilla, coffee, cocoa, and green pepper (the spice). While Madagascar exports coffee, cocoa, and pepper, vanilla is one of the biggest export articles. It is a plant that grows on a host tree, is artificially pollinated in November, and harvested nine months later. The villagers get a couple of cents and the rest to all the people on the way to the grocery store - just think of how much real vanilla costs back home. Still, Sambava is one of the richest areas in Madagascar: everybody is wearing shoes!
Coffee, cocoa, and pepper grow on trees. You can make chocolate with cocoa and vanilla. And you can make mocca with coffee and chocolate. But I doubt any of the villagers have ever had a grande mocca - ah, I’m too influenced by Starbucks (been in Vancouver too long…).