08-Jan-2011 -- We arrived at Tolagnaro Friday morning after a six hours' busride from Ambovombe, left our backpacks in a small hotel, and made our way towards the Confluence. Child prostitution seems to be rampant. We were astonished to find that all doors bore signs warning that guests inviting unaccompanied children below the age of consent to their rooms will be asked to leave immediately and that management reserves the right to inform the authorities.
Tolagnaro, better known by its French name Fort Dauphin, is a middle-sized town located on the island's south-eastern tip. The small paved road which is the town's only connection to Madagascar's underdeveloped road network is for the most part in terrible condition. Rather odd to find a settlement of considerable size (at least 40,000 inhabitants) connected by just one slowly disintegrating tarmac track with the rest of country.
The city is dominated by the region's biggest employer, an Ilmenit and Bauxit mining operation run by the industry giant Rio Tinto. Many construction sites and pieces of infrastructure bear the corporation's logo and name, a lot of company cars are roaming the streets and most of the local economy is dependent on the mine. Fort Dauphin's harbour is mainly used to dispatch the ore and resupply the mining operation, and the small airport mostly shuttles ex-pats working there to and from. The local tourism industry visibly declined in recent years, political instability and a series of natural disasters are probably responsible for this development.
The Confluence is located in the dunes of a shipwreck bay northwest of Fort Dauphin. We walked about 4 kilometres from the city, most of it following the coastline. The ocean is powerful in this area, and the sound of the rollers is marvellous.
The CP is located 100 meters above the shoreline in the dunes. We met several fishermen diving for oysters just a few hundred meters from the Confluence. The athletic build and many scars of the men betrayed what a immensely exhausting and dangerous line of work they've chosen. They were busy preparing their catch for sale at Fort Dauphin. They were kind enough to offer us some fresh oysters, opened some for us, and treated us thereby to a delicious little snack before we walked back to Fort Dauphin.
Continued at 19S 47E.