I walked down the road towards Andasibe's center just as the morning mist was burning off the green landscape, and hadn't even made it to the bridge over the small river when I stumbled across a little shack with a Nescafe seller. Teenage schoolkids were buying their coffee and tea in front of me, and they glanced shyly at me before one of them offered to help me order. Pointing at coffee doesn't need that much help but he did make the experience go smoothly.
As I walked back to the guesthouse, I tried to sip around the drowned ants.
Jitneys—or taxi brousses—out of town leave every hour during the day, and cross in front of the guesthouse at the half-hour point after winding through the village picking up passengers.
I was ready to go and stood on the wooden balcony waiting for Guy as I saw the 8:30 a.m. taxi brousse rumble by on its way to Moramanga.
We weren't in a hurry but what, I wondered, could be taking Guy so long? Was he prettying himself up in case he met that special lemur? Finally, I saw him go into the shower.
When he did show up, clean and packed, he told me that to get a hot shower, he'd been instructed to turn on the water heater and wait ten minutes. But right as the ten minutes were up, the German woman who was staying next door to me had scooted in and used up all the hot water. Drat.
But there wasn't much waiting for us back in Tana, except that we planned to go to the nicest restaurant in town for lunch since we'd miss the lunch window at Vakona Forest Lodge yesterday.
"Are you sure that's a good idea?" I motioned at our dusty backpacker-wear.
"If we can pay, they'll feed us," answered Guy.
We were too early for the half-hour taxi brousse, so we walked through town to their starting point. We'd just get on and wait, we figured. There wasn't much hope of getting a good seat as there was no such thing, but at least we'd have something to do rather than sit by the side of the road and wait.
Today's taxi brousse was a lot newer and nicer than the incoming one had been, and we piled in and sat back to watch as the van wound through town picking up passengers every few feet. We passed by our guesthouse at exactly the half-hour mark, and an hour later disembarked at the gare in Moramanga, then got into a van bound for Tana, where Guy negotiated fiercely with a local taxi driver to take us to the swank restaurant.
But we'd missed lunch, so we stopped by an outdoor restaurant, picked up some chocolate on the way back to Tana-Jacaranda (Guy got his own this time as I'd been guilty of chocolate-hoarding before), and planned to go back to the fancy restaurant for dinner.
Which was fine by me. I wanted to clean up a bit.
I got my old room back at the guesthouse and put in my laundry. But I counted wrong, so the girls who worked there brought my laundry up to my door and counted it out, piece by piece.
Right in front of Guy, who was sitting in the common area.
To his credit, he did not mock me.