Day 6 – Anjajavy: Lemurs, animism, and Sunset cruise


Monday, July 14, 2014

Over breakfast we watched one of the local bands of the coquerel sifaka (white lemur) jump between the trees. They got so close to us! They can’t really walk on the ground so they jump on their hind legs – it’s really funny to watch.

I realize I haven’t really talked much about the wildlife here. It’s super interesting and different! Besides the multitudes of strange birds and lizards I have never seen before, there are two species of lemur – the common brown and the coquerel sifaka. The sifaka gets all the attention because of their bigger size and beautiful white colored fur. The common brown look like monkey squirrel cats – they are interesting too.

Barney the scientific intern is here for the summer studying one particular band of Sifaka, attempting to gauge what their minimum range is and then publish a paper about it. He follows them around with a GPS. I think the hotel is trying to get more scientific interest in lemurs and this reserve. It seems that lemurs are a bit understudied. The coquerel sifaka only exists in this area of Madagascar – no where else in the world!

The hotel has built an “oasis” which has attracted lemurs to it (I guess it has yummy trees or something). The lemurs are still wild – no one touches or feeds them – but they are super accustomed to humans so you can get very close to them. Every evening at 5 the hotel puts on “tea time at the oasis” and offers English style tea to the guests. Almost without fail this is when the lemurs are there too since they like to feed in the evening. Christian is always there trying to catch the best lemur shot.

After breakfast we talked more with Cedric. I asked him more about the village. The Malagasy lives are governed by fado which are taboos. For example a local taboo in the Anjajavy village is dogs – not one of the 1200 people has a dog. Also, even though 30% of the village is Christian, building a church is fado. He says that the fado are taught to the children and they grow up not questioning them. It makes the society fear based. They do not prize courage the way we do in the West. He once tried to impress a Malagasy woman by heroically putting himself in danger as a reporter during the 2002 civil war and she did not like it. She liked him better once he started managing hotels, working with the locals the way he does now, and now she’s his wife.

Another 30% of the village is Muslim and 80% is animistic, which includes the Christian and Muslim populations. This is like the rest of the country. The animists believe in spirits in trees and other natural objects, ancestor worship, etc.

We went back to work relaxing after that, this time picking our beach spot at “plagen tsika” – beach #2. There are five gorgeous coves along a beach side path that runs out along the peninsula from the hotel. We had it all to ourselves again! I relaxed and explored the tiny bit of tidepool life – will have to go back when tide is more out.

The hotel activity for today was the sunset mangrove cruise. We took a motor boat out to check out the mangroves and all the birds in them. I liked seeing how many mangroves there were – a very intact looking eco system. The sunset tonight was gorgeous and our guide Max took one of the best pictures of Christian and me I have seen.

On our way back we passed a local fishing camp. The canoes were literally logs hand carved into a canoe shape!


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