It had been 15 hours of hell through the forest, 2 hours after dark an we were still crashing trough the undergrowth to a remote village that was to be in one of the valleys, but nothing, no glimmer of light in the distance, no smell of cooking smoke or the noise of live stock, cold and weekend by the exhausting day and still dragging a trail of leaches into the night as we went, now actually too tired to fight the creatures off, so we just let them fill with blood and detach on their own.
Finally we caught the first glimmer of light in the distance, immediately your spirit lifts, shelter and food, any thing would be better than what we were enduring at the moment, then the typical rancid village smell hit us, we knew it was close.
We stumbled into the village, every one had already barricaded themselves in for the night. Single roomed wooden huts built on small stilts were scattered in amongst the vegetation. Our Malagasy friend slowly knocked on doors, but nothing or no one answered, we felt that they were too scared. You can imagine late at night foreign people arrive in your isolated village with little suns attached to their heads shining in the dark. (You have never seen a torch in your life before) finally a door opened and a young woman popped he head out. Dauphine explained our situation and she agreed to help.
What amazed me was here was a women, in the middle of a lost zone of the island, never met a foreigner in her life and she opened her meagre dwelling to us, not only this, but proceeds to feed us from what she has scrounged for the survival of her family, this was to support her own 2 kids In this harsh environment.
We were invited in, there were a few mats on the floor, pots in the corner, and bags with food and in the other corner there was a fire burning for warmth. The room was filled with smoke and in little huddle near the fire lay her 2 little kids coughing every now and then as they slept. The reason for the smoke was to keep the mosquitoes at bay, stoking up the fire she began to cook us rice and some Maniok leaves to eat with it. She also had a chunk of wild boar that they had caught a few days ago that she sort of burnt over the flame for us. Hungry and exhausted we ate, all I wanted was just to put my head down and sleep.
Eventually we all arranged ourselves in one big huddle in the room to sleep. But the torment never ended there. All through the night the insects continued to gnaw away at our flesh, what they were I don’t know, but finally too exhausted to care, I slept.