Didn't see the sun rise this morning!!! I didn't fall asleep quickly, but I did sleep - I think I just need to ignore my sleep problems - when my body is tired enough it will sleep... Got up this morning and packed - as usual it took longer than expected. By the time I'd gotten out of the room and settled up the bill I was running fifteen minutes late - good thing I'd factored in 45 minutes slack! Negotiated a taxi and was on my way "quickly". Actually the taxi seemed to have two speeds: slow, and stopped. Even worse we hit terrible traffic again. Near the end of the traffic a taxi-brousse rolled back and hit my taxi then drove away - well it turns out that my taxi has a third speed: Bat-out-of-hell. We caught up with the taxi-brousse eventually and there was a heated discussion for a few minutes and we went back to slow - but we still must have made up fifteen minutes. By the time I got to the airport I had chewed up an hour of my forty-five minutes spare - oh well, I got on the plane so I won't complain. A slightly rough flight got us to Fort Dauphin (Toulanaro) and an even rougher flight put me in Toliara. The luggage claim was an amazing display of inefficiency - six guys: move the luggage from the cart to the floor next to the counter, slap anyone who tries to grab their bags. Move the luggage from the floor to the counter, slap anyone who tries to grab their bags. Move everyone away from the counter, slap anyone who tries to grab their bags. Randomly grab bags and move them around, slap anyone who tries to grab their bags. Listen to a random person yelling for the bag, get it, carefully check it against the claim tag - most often put it back on the pile!?!? Repeat, slapping anyone who tries to grab their bags. I would have thought they were looking for bribes, but if they were they were either unsuccessful, or I just never saw any money change hands.
Try to find a taxi to Ifaty but they all want outrageous prices - it's only 24 kilometers away. Finally team up with a French couple (he's going to visit his aunt who manages a hotel in Ifaty) and we negotiate a slightly better price - and off we go. No more than 200 meters from the airport the guy yells stop and jumps out of the car to wave down a Land Rover - with his aunt driving. I ended up with a free ride to Ifaty, and ended up staying at the hotel that my guidebook claimed was horrible - even for a budget place. The guide book says that it's 24 kilometers to Ifaty - what it doesn't say is how bad the roads were - it took well over two hours in a Land Rover - I don't think our taxi could have even made it. It also didn't talk about the amazing scenery - picturesque villages, bizarre looking forests, deserts, mudflats, and blue water - often all in the same place! Spectacular!
The resort village is actually very nice - rustic and primitive, but clean. I opted to splurge the extra $6 for a bungalow with it's own shower and toilet - more specifically within hiking distance of the beach. Got my bags put away, looked at the mandatory - and extremely pathetic (and sad) crocodile kept in stagnant water - and was just in time to watch the fantastic sunset. I did my best to arrange a dive tomorrow (no one speaks even a little English here) - I think I managed, I'll find out tomorrow, then hung out with a group of six English travelers who had rented a car and headed South from 'Tana two weeks ago.