I went back to the tent, opened the entrance and crawled inside. The night was really dark and it took me some time before I found the torch and turned it on. Suddenly, I felt that something is not right. My heart was beating faster and faster, pumping too much blood to my brain. I saw the black night sky through the back side of the tent. The material was freely blowing in the wind. There was a huge hole in the rear wall! I didn’t understand what was going on. And then it hit me. „Paulina!!!!” I screamed.
Unique plants and unusual animals, not existing anywhere else in the world. Lush jungle, spectacular rock formations, beautiful sea life, that looks like taken straight from the National Geographic documentary. Stunning women and the cutest children in the world, colorful local life and amazing cuisine. Sounds like a paradise for photographers, right? And I just came back from there with no photos from my camera. Why?
Everything has the beginning and the end
It never happened to me before. I travelled through 42 countries with no problems, most of the times meeting nice and helpful people. Apart from a few people trying to take advantage of me being traveller in a new country (scams in India), nobody ever tried to hurt me when I was travelling, even when I was alone. I never got robbed, never had any bad accident – just the usual traveler’s sickness problems. I guess it was too much luck and it had to stop at one point.
Before I tell you anything more, I have to say that Madagascar is a truly amazing country. I fell in love with it from the very first sight and I knew it is going to be a very special trip. And it truly was! We were two girls travelling there alone and we felt really safe. People were usually very helpful, even though they didn’t speak much English and our French was terrible. Probably that was also the problem – we felt too safe at the time and we lost a bit of our cautiousness.
A day to remember
It happened after a week of our travels. Me, and my friend, Paulina, were backpacking in the country, using only public transportation or hitch-hiking, sleeping and eating at local places or camping and trying to be as close to the people and nature as we could.
On the 6th day of the trip, we got to Ramena – a small, sleepy village located on the coast in the northern part of Madagascar, 30 min by taxi-brousse from Diego Suarez. We found the hostel Badamera, recommended by Lonely Planet guidebook and decided to camp in the garden. The weather was perfect, hostel was just by the beach and after a week spent in different types of accommodations, we felt more comfortable in our own tent comparing to bungalows with falling apart walls or rooms without proper locks (it was harder for mosquitoes, animals and other insects to enter unnoticed to our tent than to open bungalow with broken mosquito net).
We were showed the place to camp by the owner of the hostel – German lady, and been told to pay 3000 AR per person (around £0.75 – yes I know! After you travel sometime in the country you don’t calculate exchange rates for the money anymore. You just think like the locals and when everything costs in hundreds, thousands or millions of millions then it’s hard to translate it to the normal money ;)).
We spent a lovely day on the beach and in the afternoon we went to town for dinner. The hostel was located a bit outside of the town centre – around 10-15 min walk. We left our luggage in the main hostel building with most of our money and passports (luckily!), as we were usually trying to hide money and documents in several different places to make them harder to find and steal.
However, since we wanted to take some pictures on the way, we took our cameras – my mirror-less Fuji and GoPro Hero, together with our phones. We usually had them with us to capture what was around us – all that uniqueness of Madagascar island.
After a very nice seafood dinner on the beach (for around 15000 per person = £3.6), we headed over to the bar for few drinks with our new Malagasy friends and two American guys who we met in the morning in the taxi-brousse. The next day we were supposed to go together for a boat trip to one of the remote islands and camp there for the night. Americans left to a different place to have some food and we stayed in the local club laughing and dancing with locals. Party was great, people were moving on the dance floor like crazy – everyone from youngsters to older ladies was having fun! We took some pictures and videos, but then we decided to head back to the hostel, as we were supposed to wake up quite early tomorrow morning.
One of the Malagasy guys, who we were supposed to go for a trip the next day with – Rasta, offered to walk us back to our place. We denied as we felt quite comfortable by ourselves. Before getting to the hostel, we went to the beach to take some pictures of the stars. At the time, I didn’t know that I shouldn’t expect to see those pictures ever again. It was a pitch black night, so the stars we were very visible and bright. However, we couldn’t see anything around or behind us, so after few photo shots, we came back to the hostel’s garden, to our tent.
Life-changing 5 minutes
Next to the place, where we pitched our tent, maybe 5 meters away, was a small building with a toilet, shower and the outdoor sinks. We put our bags to the tent, closed the entrance, and I headed to the shower. Paulina was still next to the tent, brushing her teeth outside of it, and then coming back to take some things from there. I took a really short shower – water was cold and I was sleepy, so I jumped out of it very quickly. It maybe took me 5 minutes. I came back to the tent when Paulina took my place.
The entrance was closed, so I opened it and crawled inside. The night was really dark and it took me some time before I found the torch and turned it on. Suddenly I felt that something is not right. My heart was beating faster and faster, pumping too much blood to my brain. I saw the black night sky through the back side of the tent. The material was freely blowing in the wind. There was a huge hole in the rear wall! I didn’t understand what was going on. And then it hit me. „Paulina!!!!” I screamed! The hole ripped in the back of the tent looked like someone cut it with the knife. I saw that our bags are missing. I jumped out of the tent screaming “We got robbed!”
Our bags with phones, cameras, money and other things that we had with us in town were gone!
We rushed to get to the hostel to talk to security and wake up the owner. She’s run out of her room, telling us to go to the beach to look for our things, what we did. But it was so dark that we couldn’t see anything, and with the torches, we were easily seen by everyone else. After a while, we decided, that it’s probably not safe since we knew that the theft had a knife, so we went back to the hostel.
We couldn’t stay in the tent anymore, so we were given the bungalow by the German woman. We knew that we needed to wait until the morning before we could do anything. After checking 5 times that the bungalow doors are properly locked, quite nervous and anxious we tried to go to sleep. It wasn’t very easy since my head was producing thousands of scenarios of what could have happened and trying to find the way out of that situation.
The night was long and we couldn’t wait for the morning.
However – what the next day would bring, was a surprise for us.
Next part coming soon!
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