In a long conversation of 9 minutes with Serge this morning, his voice was full of enthusiasm and he began by asking how things are going in Tana, on terra firma. I gave him a short resume of our progress, that can’t be measured in nautical miles. This evening our second phone conversation is shorter; it’s 18H45 in Madagascar and he has just gone to bed. He rowed for a total of 10H.
I gathered the following information:
-He is sleeping well and still has not seen any fish around his boat. He wonders if this is because of the ultrasound. Middleton is equipped with an ultrasound at the level of the hull. The hull acts as a sound board, carrying the sound waves, creating a microscopic environment of moving water molecules over the entire underwater profile of the hull. As a result growth is prevented as the cell structures of the algae and micro-organisms are targeted and cannot survive. Consequently, Serge will not have to go into the water to clean the hull.
-Some sea gulls have flown above him but none has alighted on his boat. He is eating well and heats his Fleury Michon food. This evening the menu was: chicken, potatoes/ mushrooms.
-He’s burning and he’s hot. The temperature is 36°C or higher today, without taking into account the effect of reverberation.
-We started to speak about the possible arrival at the Island of Sainte Marie and today I broached the subject with Hubert Pasquier, a friend of our friend Loïc in Vannes. As the saying goes, our friends’ friends are our friends. Hubert has already cleared the ground on the Island of Sainte Marie, which is always helpful.
-Serge is not bored, that’s what he told me this morning. The days fly by, all the more so because the least movement in the boat takes time; going to get a bottle of water is a real expedition. Not having contact with the outside world via Internet doesn’t bother him because he has no constraints other than rowing, eating, making progress and holding his heading! He repeated that again this evening. Just the same, he is worried that the Paris Saint Germain is going to play against Barca on April 15 and without Zlatan.
-He complains about smelling bad but that was expected. As for me, I wonder if I’m not going to find a “stinking lizard” in little more than a week.
-Today’s estimates show a possible arrival on Sainte Marie March 29 or 30. I’m happy that solitude does not weight heavily but I know the determination of Serge when he must accomplish something. I know where this trait comes from. Mamie, his mother (I spoke with her by phone today) has Breton ancestors and a temperament of steel. At more than 90 years old, she never gives up when she has an idea.
-He has no discomfort. I thought he would be stiff or feel exhausted from the constant seated position or being on hands and knees but everything seems to be going well. He regularly applies anti-chaffing cream to his buttocks, the scrota and between his thighs;
In Tana, it’s a day without activity and without having to take a plane use the car. Stopping is a luxury and for me pure delight. I use it to update the website, my accounts, the organization of the team that will join us in Africa, to contact the routers because the arrival and departure points of the boat are important for the organization of the continental portion, i.e. the continuation of the adventure. Just taking the time to think, to question and to make decisions, that’s what you can do when you have a day in one place without having to move. Only one regret, I thought we would have the time to visit la ville haute and to wander in the streets, but no, at 17H15 night starts to fall and at 18H00 you are “Wasa” in this huge capital of 1,800,000 inhabitants and you must not linger on foot at night, even less if you are carrying a camera or a bag. I love the markets and we will go to the one in the neighborhood. I have always felt that it is in such places that you feel the essence of a country, just as you do in isolated places where tourists fear to tread.
When I travel I look for the authentic. It means:
-taking an interest in history to better understand the contemporary
-Looking and observing: the architecture of homes, advertising, sign postings, the way people look as they stroll, rural life, the way people look at you, exchanging smiles
-Asking questions and finding answers to learn about others and to understand them.
-Putting aside prejudices, stripping oneself of one’s firm beliefs and finally not starting with the point of view that as westerners we hold universal truths about what should or should not be what is good or bad. Travel is an infinite source of learning and opening up to others and to the world. Even if today I did not stroll in the streets of la ville haute, I hope to travel a lot…..with Serge at my side!