Madagascar diary, day 5. August 1, 2010

 

<Previous

We get up at 6:25, pack all our suitcases and take a shower, and leave the room. Very quickly three porters are next to us to help us carry the suitcases down the long stairs that are slippery and wet. We have a nice breakfast and see our guide arrive in his car at 7:15. We pay the hotel in euro's, because plastic money is not accepted here, throw some money in the three tipboxes for hotel, service and kitchen and leave at 7:30 heading back west: to Tana. Almost during the whole trip the rain pours down; one moment even stronger than the next. Many of the people we encounter on the roads are dressed up nicely, clearly ready to go to church. Some people walk barefoot, with their shoes (required in church) in their hands. Most people walk without umbrella's. The landscape is very different from two days ago because it rains, but also because we are traveling in the opposite direction and with two days more experience in Madagascar. The traffic is also different: the Sunday shows many fewer busses, and a lot more trucks. One in every two trucks is a gasoline truck carrying fuel to Antananarivo or returning empty to the refineries in Tamatave.

Rainy view on banana sales along the road from Andasibe to AntananarivoNatural stone sales along the road from Andasibe to Antananarivo in the rain

After a basically non-stop trip, we arrive at the hotel Royal Palissandre at 11:00 where we get the room right next door to the one we had our first two nights. We quickly refresh ourselves, and make sure to be down at 11:25. We are being picked up by our local host and one of his grandchildren; they just came out of church a little further down the road. They bring us to the restaurant La Rotonde where we have lunch in the "Aquarium" room in a group of 15. As a warming up, I get a "Rhum Arrangé" (a specialty of Madagascar) with cinnamon and cloves. During the meal we drink a local rose wine. The meal consists of a mixture of Malgash dishes, among which "yam leaves" (cassava), eel, prawns, different meat dishes and rice. The six kids in the group get their own separate dishes, and Maxim get some delicious fries. During the rest of the "grown up" meal time, the kids play together. We finish with coffee and another Rhum Arrangé.

One of the buildings on the "blue hill" in Antananarivo, a royal residence View from the blue hill Unesco World Heritage site, Antananarivo, Madagascar

Our guide comes back to pick us up at 14:20 for a visit to the "blue hill". Apparently blue stands for beautiful. The blue hill is a royal monument, now on the Unesco list of world heritage sites. We get an explanation of the site, the buildings, and the views by a local guide. On the way back to the hotel we take some extra detours (not only the one we are required to take because the major road is blocked) to see some different parts of Tana. At 17:30 we are back in the hotel; Anne and Maxim have a short siesta while I do some laundry. At 19:00 we go for dinner: the hotel serves a Sunday special grill menu. The meal is accompanied by the same pianist as a few days ago, playing the same piano, equally out of tune. He even plays Ballade pour Adeline. Around 21:00 we return to our room, Maxim goes to bed quickly while Anne and I still read a bit.

Next>