"They're not fady," Zak explained, after another fruitless forage in the soggy leaf litter. "Lemurs are fady, so are chameleons, but not tenrecs. So they get eaten.
We had time on our hands, maybe another 10 hours of hard climbing, so it seemed okay to begin yet another conversation about the complexities of Malagasy customs.
"What's fady?" I asked.
Zak, you must understand, is not your common sort of guide. His father was a musician fairly famous in northern Madagascar but he died when Zak was quite young. Zak and his six sisters were brought up in a peasant village by his mother and beloved grandfather, who was both a champion bare-knuckle boxer and a storyteller.
In his youth the old man had been press-ganged by the French into building the road to the top of Amber Mountain upon which we were walking – though after 50 years of neglect it was a mere precipice-hugging, tangle-foot path.
Zak learned French, then English, then Italian and decided growing rice and mangoes wasn't for him. His ambition led him, eventually, to York Pareik who runs a travel outfit named King de la Piste. A piste, in case your French is as lousy as mine, is a dirt road.