Friday, July 22, 2011

Hunting for Seeds in Antsantia

Things are continuing to go well, seeing and learning a lot, loving this part of the country much more than Antsirabe, the city we were in the first month. We went to two different mangrove forests today to look for seeds. One of them was quite destroyed but the second was in pretty good shape.
The good forest was just beyond a beautiful French-run hotel, so we parked at the hotel, ordered lunch and left Alissa and the kids at the pool. Jaime, Elizabeth, Josy, Armand, another Malagasy and myself hiked down the beach and into a small bay where the forest was. Beautiful white sand beaches on either side before entering, now on my list of most beautiful beaches.

The forest is incredibly dense and has a great variety of species. There was a dryer path around part of it, but to get a really good look we had to go wading through deep mud amongst the prop roots of the trees. A bit difficult but the mud felt amazing between the toes and thankfully there were not many barnacles attached to the roots in this forest as their often are. The mud was about a foot deep in this particular spot, but other places you can sink two or three feet, sometimes more. The trick is to keep on moving, constantly lifting your feet up, kinda like doing an accelerated high-step in marching band.

Jaime spotted a chameleon in a mangrove tree, which is quite rare. Even Jaime who grew up here had never seen a chameleon in the mangroves. A good sign! As for the seed collection, the seeds we were looking for, they weren't mature enough yet, so we'll have to go back to that location in a week or two, though we did find some other tree species which we were able to procure seeds from.

After arriving back at the hotel we jumped in the oh so refreshing pool, then had an amazing lunch of red snapper with sauteed veggies and curried rice, definitely the best fish I've ever had.

On the way back home this evening we witnessed a large portion of forest on fire, which was set by a local because the burning causes green shoots to spring up which their cattle like to eat. Such a waste, so much destruction. There was at least a few football fields up in flames. When the forest burns all the chameleons die and even the lemurs don't make it as they climb to the tops of the trees instead of fleeing the area.

It was an amazingly full day, and we can't wait to see what tomorrow will bring.

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