I wake up, ask the gendarme where the bathroom is. He points to the back of his single room apartment. I’m surprised since the room doesn’t smell at all, and so I back there, and go to the washroom. He comes back, wrinkling his nose at the smell. Apparently bathroom and toilet have quite different meanings here and I hope I haven’t alienated my only friend and police officer by pissing in his shower (though it’s not like people don’t do that at home). Fortunately he simply scrubs the floors and points me in the direction of an outhouse and I get to do what I always wanted and wipe my ass with the tabloid newspapers. I’ve already inspired some curious looks as I take my camera into the outhouse and start photographing spiders in the corners…that is until the stench drives me away. I walk around town passing the ominously named “Apokalypsy church” (Yes it does mean the same thing in Malagasy as it does in English).
After breakfast my new friend offers to walk me to the entrance of the national park 7 kilometres away. Of course I’m somewhat cynical, wondering what he gets out of it and whether he is positioning himself to try and be my guide, etc. Fortunately it turns out he is just a nice guy, he even carried my bag. We found ourselves sweating up the long hill, taking frequent breaks and making fun of each other for who was sweating more (of course I was carrying about 30 kilos more than him, but who’s counting). I consider it training for my further travels but ultimately we cave in and take a taxi up the remaining 3 kilometres. Once at the park entrance we say our goodbyes and I set up my hammock in the campground after paying entrance fees and being assigned a guide. Despite setting a time for later on that day I find myself sleeping in, travel and jetlag catching up with me. However I begin my first photographic forays in the evening, seeing what can be found around camp and the roadside.