Posted by: powellpjc | November 29, 2012

To Hell and Back. Sorry, Hell Ville.

A fairy tale starts with, ‘Once upon a time’.
A sea story starts with, ‘And this is no fucking bullshit’. Apologies to Freddie ‘Decaff’ Bates.
Arrived here in Hell Ville, Nosy Be Island, Madagascar (these are real names) 5 days ago and anchored in a shitty harbour. Had a nice sail down the coast, stopping at a couple of bays and Nosy Mitsio. I forgot to add those photos but will next post.

Pulling into Nosy Mitsio

A nice quiet village and harbour.

The lighthouse entrance to Hell Ville harbour. I doubt it actually works.

This place is seriously in trouble. A coup about 3 years ago has upset what trade there was and as a result, not much works. Stevedores are real stevedores. They shoulder the cement bags, the rebar, the wooden planks, all semi-naked and sweating. I am back 100 years.

Hell Ville harbour.

Some local colour

Hell Ville town. Problems with tides as you can see.

I f there is no gasoline there is a lineup. If there is gasoline there is a bigger lineup.

You must learn the head balance deal at an early age. This gal is just practicing, I guess.

Plenty of mangrove crabs. They look a lot better when cleaned and cooked.

The ex-pats like to eat at the covered restaurants.

The regular folk turn out in droves about 6 pm for the local fare. This gal is proud of her offerings.

Not quite sure what she’s offering but it will all be gone before long.

This gal talked me into my first lyche. Bought a kilo right away.

These unhappy gals are selling khat, that leaf stimulant, probably similar to coca leaves. They have the natural suntan cream on their faces. It’s free and they wear it every day in many cases.

I rented a scooter but I cannot leave it by the dock because of security. Need to drive it back to the rental place each night (2 km) and walk home. Don’t like walking the streets at night here. Not much in the way of streetlights and where there are poor, poor people there are problems.

A smile like that will sell a lot of bananas.

Mango capital as far as I’m concerned, the world’s best fruit according to some.

And if you like your bananas deep-fried you’ve come to the right spot.

A little square-rigger flying downwind.

Now, I’d call this an Arab dhow. What do I know?

The Flame Tree. Helen Keane’s brother wrote the book but I’ve got the pics.

A very pretty tree.

Had a lovely tour with private guide yesterday through a nature reserve looking at the critters and plants, the like I’ve never seen before. One drawback was that we had to paddle (4 of us) a pirogue (small wooden canoe with outrigger) about 45 minutes to get to the reserve. The folk I was with had never seen a paddle, I’m convinced so it was me and the skipper grinding away, against the wind of course. But overall, very interesting and a lovely feast at the end of the return pirogue paddle. Crab, oysters, large fish, brochettes of zebu, rice and potato salad. With a nice cold beer Pete was once again feeling good. Some of the critters and plants following.
Ladies, this is a perfume tree. When the flowers bloom once a year (January) they are harvested and processed into an elixir that drives men wild. This is a cultivated tree in an orchard, about 5 feet high. I think it is a base for fancy French parfume and a natural perfume in Mad.

Ladies, this is a perfume tree. When the flowers bloom once a year (January) they are harvested and processed into an elixir that drives men wild. This is a cultivated tree in an orchard., about 5 feet high. I think it is a base for fancy French parfume and a natural perfume in Mad.

I’d call this a red-spotted green gecko.

A male chameleon. The females are brown. When they want to be.

Bad pic, but trust me. This is a gila.

No question about this bad boy, though. A boa constrictor about 8 years old. They eat the lemurs and what birds they can sneak up on.

There are 3 types of boa in Madagascar. This fellow stays in the trees and will grow to be the largest of the three.

A lady lemur.

Same same.

Very small chameleon.

Mother and child.

ass=”size-full wp-image-1215″ /> The males in this family group are black.[/caption]

Close-up of the lady.

This is not a tumor. It is a large ant colony/nest high in the canopy.

A land boa. They eat frogs.

Head of boa. I hate snakes.

A nocturnal lemur, although we wakened him. Mango eaters.

If the perfume tree is not trimmed and grows wild it gets to a grand size. Just like me.

I still have not recovered my land legs and must walk carefully in the jungle and drive carefully on my scoot scoot. I fell over on the damn thing the other day, following a large jungle tractor up a steep hill so have kept my streak alive of falling off scooters in most parts of the world.

I’m not kidding. Hell Ville. I think it was a punishment posting in the French colonial days.

Natural vanilla before it is harvested and sun-dried for 3 months. Then it is the rich, chocolate-coloured brown bean we know and love. I just don’t know how to use it.

I depart tomorrow for the south. Will stop in a couple of bays along the way and cross over to the Mozambique side and run down the Mozambique/Agulhas current hoping to put in at Richard’s Bay, South Africa. Should be about 15 days.
Lots of pics of this place. Hope you enjoy.
My intended route for the next week or so:



  1. Lemur Boa Gecko…sounds like a military transmission: “This is Lemur Boa Gecko calling Hellville Mango, come in Hellville Mango…over.”


  2. liked the pictures although not a place I would want to visit with all those snakes and lizards!

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