Sunday, November 27, 2011

Day 4: October 9, 2011

Eastern Gray Bamboo Lemur
Quite the eventful day. Two trips to Perinet Reserve plus a thrilling night walk—during which I nearly killed myself.

To start with the drama—there was a very small wooden bridge with crossed slats, with some slats missing. I was trying to figure out if my headlamp was brighter in its second or third setting and if I was using it correctly. I was paying no attention to where I was going. I didn’t even realize I was on the bridge.

Imagine my surprise when I took a step into nothingness and ended up with my right leg down one of the holes. Glen (our main guide) and Andrea got me up almost immediately. I looked down into the hole, and it was pitch black. I guess I have actually looked into the abyss! [I found out later that there was a platform about four feet below the hole I stepped in but that the next hole went straight down to the water.]

I got pretty bruised and scraped up. I landed on my left knee, which got the worst of it [six weeks later, it’s not totally healed]. My right knee and thigh were also scraped and bruised. I took a small chunk out of my right elbow. [And it wasn’t until a few days later that I noticed the big bump a few inches above my ankle on the right leg.]

Andrea and I went back to our room to take care of my various wounds. After we had schlepped up the 65 steps, we realized that the room key was down at the reception desk. Andrea, despite her bum knee, went uncomplainingly all the way back down and all the way back up. Then it was washing the scrapes and antibiotic spray and all that. Andrea said that, with my skinned knees, I looked like an eight-year-old.

I was rattled, but I knew I was very very lucky. I didn’t kill myself. I didn’t even break a bone! Lucky indeed.

Enough of that--on to the animals!

This shows an eastern gray bamboo lemur, a Will's chameleon,
and a Madagascar Tree Boa

Today was rich with lemurs—common brown lemur, woolly lemur, Goodman’s mouse lemur, greater dwarf lemur, and indri. We got a particularly good look at the greater dwarf lemur (great name, that!), but they were all splendid.

In no order at all:
  • A mouse lemur scurried right by me, not a foot away.
  • At one point, before we had seen any indri, a troop started hollering and hooting, and it was as if a jolt of electricity went through our group.
  • The nocturnal lemurs’ eyes are so bright and reflective that I initially thought a greater dwarf lemur was just an airplane in the distance or some such. Then Andrea spotted it, luckily, and we ended up with some long and wonderful looks at a few of them. Eerie and wonderful.

    [One of my favorite memories of the whole trip, looking back, is the reflective eyes of the nocturnal creatures. Every single time I spotted a lemur in the dark, the intensity of the eyes was thrilling all over again. And if you looked down, you’d see dozens of tiny pairs of shining dots—spiders!]

  • Saw some amazing chameleons and geckos—ranging in size and color quite a bit, all quite cool.
  • At times during the night walk, it was really pretty spooky, particularly when Kaye (very nice co-traveler, Australian, enthusiastic, chatty) and I walked a bit in the wrong direction. Just the two of us into dark, thick, and mysterious rain forest. It was wonderful—a real sense of being in MADAGASCAR—and eerie and fun and a tad scary. I kept thinking, Holly would hate this!
And so much more, but I’m tired and tomorrow is a long day that starts quite early.

This shows some of the scenery at Perinet, which
was one of the most accessible places we went. It
also shows the people I was traveling with.

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