One of the most anticipated adventures of our trip to Madagascar was a sunset photo safari to the great baobab forest near Morondava on the west coast of Madagascar. Following the suggestion of our guide book, we hired a driver for a late afternoon visit. Setting out under blue skies and in high spirits, the promised 40-minute one-way journey, turned into nothing short of hell on wheels. Barely out of town, we were stopped by the local "gendarmes" who seemed in the habit of "soaking" Western tourists for bribes to access the road. A few kilometers later when the pavement ended, foot-deep potholes made the route an obstacle course that we were still negotiating 2 hours later when thunderstorms rolled in off the Mozambique channel and unleashed a drenching tropical storm. Needless to say, our mood turned as foul as the weather.
And then – almost mysteriously – the baobab forest appeared out of the mist of a steady downpour. I can hardly describe my emotions – a sense of the brief and fragile nature of human life in the shadow of these great pillars that have stood perhaps on Earth as long as the great Gothic cathedrals of Europe. We stood in the rain, in total awe, beneath a canopy of verdant foliage and bleak-grey skies while two lonely wayfarers disappeared out of sight along the rain-soaked clay path, seemingly headed nowhere. Undoubtedly one of the more memorable moments of our two weeks in Madagascar.