Monday, June 29, 2009
This place definitely has a rougher edge to it. I spent a couple of days with an older German singlehandler who has been cruising between East Africa and Brazil for many years. He gave me a tour of the residential sections of Hellville which are amazingly close to the center of town given the contrast. The main areas are pretty dilapidated to begin with. Mostly unmaintained buildings built by the French that are crumbling away. The residential section has no electricity, is unpaved, uses well water, and has open sewage canals right on the surface. The tour consisted of visiting many of my friend's ex Malagasy girlfriends. He speaks enough of the local language to break through the many barriers. Practically every single decent looking girl between fourteen and twenty five is a prostitute here. There are huge UNICEF anti child prostitution posters on the sides of the crumbling French buildings. After the tour, we went to a disco where we stayed till about two am. We were mugged on the short walk back to the harbor. I got away unscathed. My friend lost his cell phone, a small led flashlight and two teeth. His first comment after things settled down was, "I love this place". There is another American boat in the harbor, "Soularity - Chasing Life". They don't seem to love this place at all and basically never leave their boat after catching someone stealing their dive tanks right off the deck in the middle of the afternoon. They chased the thief, caught up with him and the husband held a pistol to the guy's head. The only reason they haven't left is that they are having engine problems. They tried leaving once but I saw them return using their dinghy to tow the boat back to Hellville.