Slept great last night - dead to the world until my alarm went off. Got up took a quick shower (it's so hot here that even sleeping involves sweating). Met my taxi (I'm always amazed that taxis I arrange for at ungodly hours are always there) and was at the airport before six (eight o'clock flight). Unfortunately I wasn't even close to the first one. When they started processing us a half-hour later I was number fifteen on the waiting list. I tried to BS and say that I'd called and been confirmed but the ticket agent wouldn't even look at the list (obviously I wasn't the first to try this). At a few minutes to eight they started to call the standby list - two of the maybe forty of us waiting got on. Now I'm worried, it's not so much that I'm here another day it's what if this happens on my flight to 'Tana when I fly out the very next day (no room for error). I decide that if I can't get a confirmed seat back to 'Tana today I'm going to start overland this afternoon or tomorrow. I'll just have to bite the bullet and spend a couple days in a taxi-brousse.
Took a taxi directly to the Air Madagascar office which was already quite busy. Over the next fifteen minutes most of the people who'd been denied this morning showed up - but I was the first! Finally got to talk to an agent. She said the next available confirmed seat was on the twenty-sixth - three days after I'm scheduled to leave! She looked at my name again and said "Wait I remember seeing your name on tomorrow's passenger list". But she couldn't find it so then she looked at the next day - nope, so then she looked at today's list - bingo. I wasn't lying when I told the ticket guy that I had a confirmed seat! I just didn't know it and he didn't believe it. So now I had a little bit of righteous anger plus I did my best to charm her and explained the problem and she told me to she'd see what she could do and I should came back before ten. As it was eight thirty I decided to sit there and wait. At nine thirty she got me a flight! It's Monday (the day before I'm scheduled to leave) so if something goes wrong I'll have a problem - but it's confirmed. It also means I'm stuck in Toliara for two more nights. I considered going back to Ifaty - I'd only be able to stay one night but I'd probably be able to get two or three dives in. But they don't know I'm coming so I'd have to pay a lot to get out there - and I have barely enough Malagay Franks to pay for the room - no way could I pay the taxi. So, decided to stay here and go back to the hotel I stayed at last night.
Caught another taxi back to the hotel - only to find it full. Went to another nearby hotel that they recommended. It's a little more (almost $11 a night!) but I get hot water and my own toilet - such decadence! Even more important it has a ceiling fan. It was just to hot to explore, I tried to write in my journal but ended up falling asleep almost immediately. Woke up a couple hours later and decided to brave the heat. I asked the French man who owns the hotel what there is to do here - he said one word "leave". He then expanded by saying there was absolutely nothing to do here just go to the beaches at Ifaty.
I don't have the time or money (I've arranged to pay in US$ here) to go to Ifaty so it looks like I'm just hanging out. Normally I'd be Ok with the enforced relaxation time, but this morning at the airport I just finished the last of the books I brought from the US. I went out exploring anyway and he's right there's not much here. Obviously from the buildings (some falling apart, some never finished) there was a short lived boom here ten or so years ago. Now the town has the feeling that the streets shouldn't even be paved. Most local transport is done by "pouspous" - basically a rickshaw. The market isn't very exciting either. I spent some time looking for a bookstore with some English titles (even just one) but failed - I just realized that I have a hellish flight coming up and no reading material (I've even already read my Singapore travel book cover to cover). I also tried to arange a dive further south of here but without two other people it wasn't possible.
I did find some good fabric shops and had a couple pagnes (sarongs) made - mine (from Nigeria last year) is starting to fall apart. I tried to have an early diner at the same restaurant as last night but they don't open for a couple hours. Had a few snacks from the street venders and came back to write this.
At seven I went back and had diner. While I was there the guy representing the dive center found me and told me that there were four others going. The good news is I get to go for a couple more dives in Madagascar. The bad news is that I have to catch a six AM taxi - so much for going to the Zaza Club (the most respected disco in Madagascar). After diner I went by my hotel's lounge to tell Hubert (the manager) that I was leaving at six so would have the key with me. In the lounge I met a couple Australian fisherman with three Malagays playing pool - needless to say my early night wasn't.