This was one long flight! After a 15 hour nonstop flight from New York’s (JFK) to Johannesburg, South Africa I figured it wouldn’t be long until my final destination of Nosy Be Madagascar. My 3-hour layover in Johannesburg turned into a 5- 1/2 hour layover due to severe rainstorms. After walking around the airport and drinking numerous cups of strong South African coffee my flight was eventually called over the loudspeaker. All Air Madagascar passengers can now proceed to the gate. I can’t begin to tell you what a relief it was to be freed from a five-hour holding pattern in an airport after already enduring a 15-hour nonstop flight. Now, it was back to the friendly skies!
The plane to Madagascar was small, a series of two rows of seats on either side of the middle aisle. The plane was far from full and most of the passengers on the plane were men going to work in the mines of Madagascar.
I spoke at length with a French-man sitting across from me and he explained to me that mining in Madagascar is big business, he makes the sacrifice to come to Madagascar to join the mining team. He does this a few times a year because the money is good, it helps his family and children back in France, and of course, he loves the adventure of it all. I didn’t know much about the mining industry of Madagascar, but by the end of this flight, I learned a lot about it.
The French man’s story was a very similar scenario to men and women that work at sea. I was on the plane to begin a job on a cruise line. It’s the only reason I traveled this far across the globe. Needless to say, we were all on that plane for pretty much the same reasons. Work and adventure!
There is a very long history of the mining industry and Madagascar. If you have an interest in learning more you can click here.
Arrival at Nosy Be. Airport | Madagascar
Twenty-five hours later from my starting point at New York City’s (JFK), I walked off Air Madagascar. I was greeted at Nosy Be Airport by an immigration officer. I had to show him my documentation for work (see bottom of this post) before going through customs. After that, he said he would escort me to my hotel and then the following day he would return at 11 am. At that time he would take me to the port where I would get on a shuttle boat that would take me to my ship. Just when you think the traveling and lugging of suitcases was over! It was pouring rain as we drove to the hotel and I was beyond jetlagged. Once at the hotel I made my way to my room, showered, and finally got some sleep. At 7 am I woke up bright-eyed and ready to go! As I walked to the breakfast area I was told that I won’t be picked now until 1 pm. There is another crew member flying in and joining the same ship and we will be driven together. That was fine by me! It was turning out to be a beautiful day and the beach was literally directly behind the hotel.
The hotel I stayed at was the Royal Beach Hotel. It was a great hotel with a very tropical feel surrounded by exotic flowers. Even the design of the hotel was very different. The front of the hotel was totally open. You literally walked right into the sprawling lobby. That’s right! No front door to the hotel, no walls in the lobby, everything was open and flowing. The staff were laid back but very helpful with any questions I had.
Nosy Be, is about 5 miles from the north-east coast of Madagascar. It is Madagascar’s busiest tourist destination. Nosy Be is also called “perfume island” because of fragrances that fill the air from the tropical Ylang-ylang trees, along with pepper trees and gorgeous Vanilla bean orchids that produce the world-renowned Madagascar Vanilla Beans. All these spices emit a beautiful aroma in the morning air with a mixture of their captivating scents. As I mentioned already the evening that I arrived in Madagascar it was raining hard. But, in the morning it was a bright and sunny day. The first thing that hit my senses when I opened the door to exit my room was the essence of these floral scents that filled the air. It was like, the best smelling, potpourri you ever experienced.
After a quick coffee and a croissant, I proceeded to the beach and shot a series of first videos from this beautiful location. Now, that I had plenty of time before my ride would show up it was time to explore. Within minutes I stumbled across some interesting things along the beach and cough them all on video.
Now for a food note. I did not have enough time to take a taxi into town to try the local cuisine. So, I decided to have lunch back at the hotel on their outdoor terrace. I was surprised to see that they had a personal-sized pizza on the menu. I asked my waitress if it was any good? She said many Italians stay at the hotel and she never got a complaint. Now I was even more curious. I ordered the pizza and I have to say given where I was It really wasn’t bad. No, it wasn’t a New York-style pizza, or an authentic Italian pizza either. But, being in Madagascar this was the next best thing. I could see why the Italians that stayed at the hotel might not have complained. This pizza had a thin crust, a light tomato sauce, and their version of shredded mozzarella cheese and it was finished with a few anchovies. The chef really did try his best and it was definitely a tasty pizza.
Soon after this pizza, my driver arrived and we scooted back to the airport to pick up my fellow crew member. Then it was off to a local port to hop on a small boat. Out in the distance, we could see our new home away from home.
I was only away from the United States for about two days at this point and it already was turning out to be an experience of a lifetime.
Have a look at the two videos below. They were taken on a handheld FLIP video camera in 2010. I don’t believe they even make them anymore. Enjoy!
Welcome to the beach of Nosy Be, Madagascar!
What’s burning on this beautiful beach?
Without this document that certified my reason for coming to Madagascar was for joining a ship for work purposes, none of the above would have been possible.