Author: Roxanne Parker
Welcome to Hell-Ville!
Welcome to Hell-Ville a crazy, chaotic cacophony of noise, colliding colours & cultures that is the capital of Nosy Be. The rainy season means the streets are a muddy maze as yellow Tuks-Tuks whizz by beeping at Vazaha’s (whites) offering them a lift & momentary reprise from the mud splattered roads.
Police whistles stretch as the traffic mounts outside Hell-Ville banana toned market where you can buy local spices, fruit, vegetables, pulses, live chickens & zebu meat from woman with faces masked with Maisonjoany, a vivid yellow face mask made from sandalwood that they paint in their face to protect their skin from the sun. As the 10th poorest country in the world Madagascar is where you see life stripped down to the basic bones.
Everything is reused & recycled, plastic bottles are reused for water, to sell bottled pickles & fermented cabbage at market & second-hand clothes are a valuable commodity with roads full of stalls selling old shirts for as little as €1.50. children pound cassava meal in groups using enormous pestle & mortars taking turns to grind the meal when their limbs tired.
Everyone seems to have a life chicken or duck under their arm as they move through the city preparing themselves for New years – the biggest holiday on the island. Personal space is non-existent as bodies push and press past one another in the crowded market space. On the boat, back to Nosy Komba you wade through the waters of Hell-Ville before sitting thigh to shoulder squeeze between villagers, like chickens and the occasional life goat!
There is every aspect of life unfolding before you, in its insane madness & bustle I find myself loving Madagascar & loving the energy that is Africa. The children are beautiful and although I’m stared at where ever I go a smile & my school French opens many doors & conversations.
Being A Forest Conservationist
Being on the forest conservation project on Nosy Komba means we act like a courier service as there are no roads or cars and we are hiking through the villages every day. This is a local farmer who I brought glasses to that were donated by a volunteer who had left the island. They worked perfectly for him and he could see clearly for the 1st time in months.
On Our Day Off
On our Day off for St Stephen’s day & the 27th we escaped to Nosy Iranja sailing past whales, visiting lemur Island, living with zero electricity, sleeping in straw huts, drawing water from a well and bringing it across a village to use, walking across miles of sand split to the next island and basically being happy & living off the grid with Shandi Di Virgilio, Sarah Sirois, Hannah McCarthy and Felicia Feeley.
Hiked Sunsets on Nosy Komba Island
Sunset on Nosy Komba. Having hiked all day we watch the sunset at the summit and with head torches hiked back through the jungle in the dark to a local hut in the middle of the rainforest where a local family cooked us dinner on long tables outside consisting of cassava leaves chopped & boiled that tasted like spinach, papaya salad which is savoury & dressed in vinegar. Chicken legs cooked in bone broth & jack fruit & pineapple which grow in abundance on the island for desert.
We hiked through the night spotting & documenting Chameleons, Geckos, frogs snakes & spiders before sleeping overnight on a Church floor in the middle of the forest with the skies heavy with stars at 5 am we hiked back to the summit for sunrise then headed back to base camp for breakfast & then back to the forest to hike to monitor bird species. I’ve passed my first exam & know all 43-bird species here – week one done & dusted.
Check out our Forest Conservation Program