Touring the island by motorcycle, we found a very young population - half of them seemed under 25 years. Children are everywhere, rolling old bicycle wheels along the roads or doing the serious job of collecting water from community wells.
We met Sylvio, a local school teacher, who while still studying at University on the main island, spends his vacation time here in Ambidofotatra teaching English and sport. Sylvio took us to his home - a spotless but basic shack not far out of town. He (and his students) were very keen to practice their English language skills. This proved challenging when mixing with the cruising sailors - Aussie accents were mixed in with Irish, American and German / French versions of the language.
Another boat crew member flew in from South Africa, but found the local connecting flights were cancelled - it took four days for them to connect with the yacht via rented taxis and small ferries.
Tourism is making a positive contribution - the people are happy and well sustained. More than half the population is Christian, with the balance following traditional animist or Islamic cultures.
We re-fueled Crystal Blues using our jerry cans and a hand trolley. Standing in a crush of people at the gas station was a funny experience - people jostling for position, but in a good natured way, always with a smile. Most were happy to recognise us as visitors and showed unusual courtesy. I actually think they take pity on us as we don't speak French or Malagasy. Of course you couldn't get diesel (or gasoline) every day - the pumps frequently ran dry, and the in-ground tanks were refilled manually from 44gallon drums barged across from the mainland.
From here we will move north up the coast of Madagascar and then around the northern cape to the sheltered west coast. There are many other cruising boats on this same route, and we expect to meet with several friends when we arrive on the other side.