I woke up somewhat refreshed. The tide had risen up to my bike and under the hammock during the night, but everything was in order.
I left very late, almost at noon, and continued to the north, on paved road. I reached Soanierana Ivongo after a short while. The town is located at the mouth of the river Marimbona. There is no bridge across the estuary, dug-out canoes and motorboats ferry people and goods from one bank to the other. Porters were bustling about the mooring area. As far as I could see, motor vehicles could not be transported to the other side.
Originally my plan was to go to the island of Sainte Marie, which lies approx. 30km off the coast and can be reached by boat from here. The quoted price for the passage seemed quite steep, though, and I changed my mind and decided to stay on the mainland instead.
I got ferried across the river and continued my ride – from now on the road was unpaved.
My dietary situation hadn’t improved from the day before and I didn’t exactly feel strong. The track’s quality was quite good at first, but deteriorated severely only a few kilometers further. Much later I discovered that I was on a narrow island, formed by arms of the rivers Marimbona and Simianona, and the Indian Ocean. Each storm and flood had attacked the island and soon I had to push the bike across open sand. The island was less than 100m wide there. At the far end, less than 10km from Soanierana Ivongo, the river Simianona blocked my way and I had to be ferried across in a dug-out canoe again.
I pushed the bike along a narrow footpath to an outpost of the village of Andrangazaha, near the vehicle ferry wharf (which was just an earthen ramp, really). I asked the two guys who were in the canoe with me for directions to Manompana. They pointed at the wharf. It started to rain heavily and I sought shelter under a roof that covered tables and benches – the hut it was attached to seemed to be some kind of kitchen that probably catered to travelers that had to wait for the ferry. A bunch of people were waiting there with two 4WD pick-ups. The sun was already setting. A ferry arrived, it was completely dark by now. The rain was so heavy that I could not persuade myself to leave the sheltering roof and the ferry left without me.
The rain stopped and I asked at the kitchen if there was some place where I could sleep. The lady showed me to a number of huts that apparently were for rent. They each contained nothing more than a bed covered by a mosquito net. I also received a fine dinner — rice with fish in some kind of tomato sauce. Very tasty!