Madagascar diary, day 2. July 29, 2010

 

Two very old wooden houses in Antananarivo

 

 

 

Our friends from Madagascar pick us up from the hotel at 9:00. Together with the family driver we visit the high city (the rich areas). We stopp at a number of viewpoints to make pictures, with nice views over the lower parts of the city. Of course we get explanations with the views: the two wooden houses in the picture are among the oldest original buildings in Antananarivo.

At one of the photo-stops we pick up two young local guides that are eager to tell us about the city. The hitch a ride with us to a viewpoint on a dead-end road where there is a sort of pick-nick place with a great view. They do not like that area: there are many places for bandits to hide and take visitors by surprise.

After some time for pictures at that place, the driver takes us up to the old queen's palace that is under reconstruction after it had been destroyed by a fire in 1995. Our host, who works for Unesco, talks to the guards at the palace and we get the rare occasion of visiting the premises. Our two local guides accompany us and explain the views and the construction.

Queen's palaceAfter this visit we leave our guides behind, and visit the palace of the first minister, which serves as a museum of the royal history. In this museum there are a number of pieces that are very similar to pieces that can be found in the Museum Speelklok in Utrecht.

Leaving the museum, we drive through some parts of the lower city, where there are many local markets. There are daily markets, but also the big weekly "Thursday" market where people from far away come to sell everything one may need in a household, including furniture. On the market, some of the vendors are still working on their merchandise. For security reasons, we have only looked at the markets from the car. Our host took us for a quick visit to their home in Tana where we had a glass of juice with some of the members of the family. After that, the driver brought the lady of the house to the academy where her husband was for the day, and he brought us back to our hotel where we had a quick sandwich for lunch.

At 14:00 Jari comes to pick us up. Normally, the schedule of our trip would have called for a visit of the city, but since we had done that visit in the morning, we discuss the possibility of visiting the Croc Farm (close to the airport) during the afternoon. Our guide accepts this with pleasure, and we set out for an hour of driving and a visit to this special zoo.

Croc Farm visit. Close up of the beak of a crocodile.At the Croc Farm we can get very close to the huge Nile crocodiles, but they also have a nice collection of other animals like snakes, frogs, and chameleons.

On the parking lot Jari gets a little card describing a vanilla workshop. When we leave, we do visit that address, but unfortunately the workshop is closed as we come to the address at 17:00. We will have to get our vanilla somewhere else: Jari gives us the advice of getting it at the beginning of our tour so that the car will smell like vanilla for the voyage.

In the hotel we enjoy our first dinner. I take the menu of the day with zebu as a starter and zebu as a main course. The main course has a seasoning of 4 "mild peppers". Tears running down my cheeks... We are all sound asleep by 22:00

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