May 22 - There be lemurs

We started the morning by getting to the beach shortly after 0900. We had read there was a lemur park on the island and wanted to go see it. The local village is built just at the beach and the trail that leads thru it has numerous small storefronts displaying handmade products, mostly embroidered tablecloths and wood carvings. There was a small sign pointing the way to the lemur park, and we paid 2000Ar each for entry. A young boy named John soon accompanied us and became our self-designated guide; he worked for tips. We wound up a hill, stopped at a tree, and the lemurs were right there on cue. They eat bananas, which John and the other guides had thoughtfully brought along, and we had a great picture opportunity with them sitting on our shoulders. Continuing our walk, there was one boa, several large tortoises, and a couple of beautiful chameleons. Other lemurs climbed thru the trees and came down looking for more food from us, obviously used to human interaction. Although not that informational in a signage or lecture sense, it was a wonderful way to get introduced to just a few of the 100 (some sources quote 60) lemur species endemic to Madagascar. Leaving the park, we went thru the artisans gallery of shops. Many of them have the same things for sale, and prices are negotiable. Lunch was at Chez Yolande; this small restaurant/hotel turned out to be quite the find. We met both sons of the owner (on holiday in France), one serving us (Ceril) and his brother the cook. The food was delicious (special note was the outstanding mud crab), prices reasonable, and the setting relaxing enough to encourage us to stay for hours. Ceril is studying hospitality management, and his service and attitude are first rate. You can pull your dinghy directly to the small beach in front of the restaurant, and cold mountain water is available by hose to fill jerry jugs or do laundry. (Ceril's Mom is an ex-yachtie and the family certainly knows how to make cruisers feel welcome.) We returned to the boats in the afternoon, after making plans to return for dinner. That was possibly a bit premature, as we all were still full from lunch. However, we dinghied back and Sue had grilled fish with vanilla sauce and I the filet of zebu; Stuart and Sheila chose somewhat lighter fare! Thoroughly enjoyable, so much so that we arranged for a custom dinner of Romazava, a traditional Malagasy dish, for tomorrow evening. Chez Yolande will cook pretty much anything you ask for, although advance notice is required for many of the traditional dishes as they take so long to prepare. Lemurs, delicious food, good company, nice's been a fine day.
Pic: No stand under the tree with banana in your hand and they drop on your shoulder/head. Their paws? are surprisingly velvety soft.

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