Paperwork completed we then took a very bumpy dirt track cross country journey down to the river bank where our boat awaited.
As we pulled up in a cloud of dust the car got mobbed by clamouring children. "Hello" "Vassa! Vassa!" (Means foreigner) "What is your name?" "Pen? Pen?". Turns out the thing in short supply here is pens. For drawing and studying. They can't go to school without a pen. Heartbreaking. We gave them our spares but resolved to get hold of some at the earliest opportunity.
In the meanwhile we walked the gang plank in reverse and were on board. Hello good ship Salama.
The boat was a two deck steamer. It had sun loungers on top, and a gallery and eating area below. Our guide was local boy Archie Johnnie along with a captain, a cook, and a cleaner. All locals. They seemed genuinely pleased to see us and also seemed to love their jobs. They were very proud of their little boat and happy to share their home with us for the next three days as we all journeyed down the Tsiribihina River together.
They cooked for us, prepared our tent at night - we slept on the river bank - sang for us at supper, and set up a dry toilet and a shower tent too. It was almost glamping. Well, almost.
We ate very well onboard - zebu (a sort of beef), fish, pork with rice, local fruits and spices. It was all very tasty.
The pace was leisurely with the highlight being towards the end of the day when we saw lemurs. Lots and lots of lemurs. Up close too. We gave them bananas which they liked so much they conquered all their fears. A bit like monkeys lemurs move fast and have very dexterous hands with those all important opposable thumbs so they can grip things. Ugly things though.
Shortly after the lemurs we visited a beautiful waterfall. We stripped off and swam in blue crystal clear warm waters and washed away our cares. Wonderful.
It was a beautiful end to the day only matched by the equally beautiful meal we had waiting for us back on board.
The camping was a bit noisy that night though even for we city dwellers; dogs, zebu, insects, rats, all singing at the top of their voices. Bloody nature! Gimme police sirens any night!