When we finally arrived at the northern-most point in our journey in Antsiranana (Diego), Madagascar the air was heavy and threatening thunderstorms. Rainy season was arriving late this year, but it seemed as though we hadn’t missed it completely.
Wandering through the streets of Diego felt like I had been transported to a totally different country. The French colonial architecture, unmaintained and now decaying, stood side by side with the brightly colored concrete houses and bamboo fences. We passed a medley of faces, skin colors, and dress while walking up and down the main stretch of road that felt at the same time Western and African. And finally, eerie, black portraits of men with chaotic expressions dotted walls throughout the city — some of the first graffiti I’ve seen in Madagascar.
While camped out in Diego, we made a side trip off to Emerald Bay — roughly 45 minutes by boat — which gets its name from the color of the ocean there. Although the bay is popular enough to drag in a whole army of sailboats full of French, Comoran, and American tourists every day, I can’t exactly object to a day spent splashing in calm, clear ocean, snorkeling, and gorging out on freshly caught fish and crab. On our way back to shore in our wooden sailboat, the waters turned rough as dark clouds rolled in over the bay, and we ended our adventure soaked and shivering but still giddy from the excitement of bouncing through the sea in rough waters.
..Photos: / 1 / Our boat’s sail / 2 / Sail boat captains / 3 / Approaching Emerald Bay / 4 / Women selling noodle-sandwiches on New Year Day / 5 / A couple driving their moped back from church / 6 + 7 / Diego street art