Scenes from Mahajanga, Madagascar

hotel malia - katsepy

Mahajanga was an unexpectedly interesting stop – as was the Katsepy anchorage adjacent. There’s a lot more I wanted to share than I could fit into the last post: it’s a little random. Humor me.

Climbing over the seawall from our beach landing to do last-minute provisions, Ty and I accidentally crashed a road race. Ty loves cycling so it was obvious to him that these racing bikes were a couple of decades old. It looked like a Criterium, where racers repeat a loop on the (uncharacteristically smooth) roads around the point where the Port Captain, the mint, national maritime school and a host of other government facilities are located.

cycling racers

There was a really big crowd cheering the racers: my favorite were these kids across the street, watching and yelling when the clusters of bikes raced by.

cycling spectators

Not a helicopter parent in sight.

Vendors were set up street side to cater to the spectator crowd. This is a very typical setup for buying a beverage in Madagascar: small glass tumblers, filled from large soda bottles. The bottle is made of surprisingly thick glass – the drink being served may or may not have anything to do with the bottle label. Often it’s a custom concoction inside. Glasses are washed in a bucket between customers. I like eating local, but try to remember to carry a water bottle here.

cycle race street vendor

We never got tired of watching the boats go back and forth across the bay. The vast majority are sailing outriggers and dhows, but there are some substantial cargo ships as well.

canoes and cargo ships

The inner harbor is too shallow for them to anchor, so barges haul containers between ship and shore. The current really rips and they do some fishtailing along the way – we tried to steer well clear.

sailboat race

Oh, yeah, they’re racing. And furling or tacking could be an Olympic event.

furling sails

Mahjanga’s urban poverty felt more confronting than the rural poverty everywhere else we’ve been…there are a lot of haphazard squatters shacks.

urban poverty

As far as I can tell, this simple dish of chicken stewed with tomatoes and served over a mountain of rice is Madagascar staple; I finally tried a steaming plateful at a little over-water bungalow in the inner harbor, with a dose of a spicy, vinegary chili sauce on top. Delicious! But, bad light. I tried.

madagascar chicken rice

These kids were my impromptu guides in Katsepy. We talked at each other with about 5% mutual comprehension (and that mostly from miming). Just delightful. We don’t buy or give candy for kids, I think it’s a bad practice where there’s poor dental practices, hygiene and basically no dental care available. But I completely caved for these adorable kids.

kids in katsepy

Clearance with immigration / police is inside the port, behind this blue gate. I had to say “immigration” in there different trying-to-sound-French accents before my garble made sense to the gate guard.

cargo port

It’s a stark contrast, the rickshaws and muscle power from guys without shoes, bringing their cargo to be loaded by relatively high tech cranes.

This is just a portion of the cured pork products case in the butcher at Leader Price…it made me tear up a little. I mean, seriously, Serrano ham! The prices weren’t even horrible. Another reminder of how I wish we hadn’t bled $$ an extra month waiting on parts in the costly Seychelles…%*@$ watermaker…

meat case

The river delta here is incredibly muddy, probably with erosion stemming from deforestation. We ran the watermaker once on an incoming tide when it looked OK, but mostly tried to avoid it. Madagascar’s answer to The Big Muddy…Niall at the helm as we raise the anchor.

boat helm muddy river

This post is syndicated on Sailfeed. Clicking through tosses change in our cruising kitty: thank you!