Cedric had booked them into a hotel that made them giddy with excitement. The photos on the website had made them all swoon; they couldn’t wait to get there, especially after the cold, crisp dryness of the Highveld winter weather. As they stepped on to the hot and humid runway in Nosy Be, they started pulling off layers of clothing as the holiday feeling began to set in. The drive to the hotel offered them the opportunity to gaze out of the windows of their hotel shuttle. The roads were a mixture of tar and sand, potholed and expertly traversed by their driver. The jungle was trying to take back any piece of sunshine it could,

and lush green foliage poked out from between old-style French colonial buildings. People walked on the pavements and in the streets, and the loud honks of cars and motorbikes filled the town as they drove through it. As they escaped the town, they could see the turquoise blue ocean wink at them in the distance.

The hotel offered them tropical drinks on arrival, which they   all drank gratefully. While Cedric handled all the bookings, everyone else drifted through the reception area to the pool deck, which overlooked the brilliant cream beach and flat, expansive ocean, with the heady fragrance of tropical flowers filling the air.

Sticky and carrying her winter clothes in a pile, Isla followed Karabo — who had received their room keys from Cedric and was making her way to their room. Anathi was next door and Jez opposite them. Cedric, Mzi and William’s rooms were on the other side of the hotel. Isla deduced that this was no coincidence on the part of Cedric Khumalo. Karabo and Isla opened their bags and quickly changed into their costumes; they ran all the way to the beach, giggling like ten-year olds. They ran past Mzi and William — who had also changed into their trunks — and were meandering towards the blue.

Karabo dived into the water, unable to believe how warm it was. As flat as a lake, the Indian ocean barely rippled. When the water reached the beach, it puffed and curled gently onto the white beach sand. Karabo and Isla swam out away from the beach, until they could barely touch the sea floor with the tips of their toes.

‘Did you do it, that thing, where you ask the ancestors to make the guys not so weird?’ asked Isla, treading water.

Karabo smiled. ‘I asked. But who knows if it will work? The ancestors may think it’s not worth it, or something,’ said Karabo, bobbing up and down. She looked back at the beach. William and Mzi were lying in the shallows, showing no indication they were going to swim out to the girls.


Question: Why would it be so hot in Madagascar but they left winter in South Africa?