Madagascar diary, day 6. August 2, 2010

 

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Today we sleep late, until 7:25, pack our luggage including the dry laundry, and have breakfast. Around 9:00 our guide comes to pick us up and we drive south towards Antisrabe along the Route National 7. It is Monday morning, the traffic into the city is very busy but outward bound like we are we are making good progress. When we come outside of the city limits there are numerous occasions to have a great view and take pictures. We make an extensive shop close to a riverbed, where in the dry winter many people work together to make bricks.

Panoramic view of a riverbed brick factory. Click to see the large original picture.

Shaping the bricks for a week of rest and a week of bakingBrick factory work

 

Further along the road we first pass vendors of strawberries (not a good idea for weak tourist stomachs), and a little later we pass through the pineapple area. There we make a short stop to eat a pineapple and take some pictures. Unfortunately this becomes a bad memory for Maxim as the combination of the fruit and the car trip make him feel sick later. We continue our trip to have lunch in a "French" restaurant, where I have canard à la vanille, delicious. In the afternoon we stop along the road where a craftsman sells model cars, and a little further we get an demonstration at an aluminum factory where ±50 pans are being produced per day from recycled aluminum.

Pineapple sales along the road. It is warm enough for T-shirts for European tourists, but the locals are wearing warm hats.Aluminum casting factory, using 100% recycled materials

Once we arrive in Antsirabe, we visit a family where one of the members makes small model bicycles and pousse-pousse out of waste materials, and the rest of the family makes embroidery. Of course we buy some of both. Just a little further down the road we get a demo from some people that work with Zebu-horn. They use 20kg of horn per week that they buy at the local slaughterhouse. To work the horn, they use a machine with an old motor recovered from a washing machine that is started by plugging in the electric power and then pushing it in the right direction. They first cut a piece with a home made circular saw blade, then they heat the piece in water and push it in a self made press. To finish, they use 4 cycles of polishing and shaping. Their last polishing step is done using a disc made out of circles cut from old jeans.

Working zebu-horn using an old motor recovered from a washing machine

We park the car at the hotel, and make a walk along some old buildings in French architecture. We also visit the Hotel des Thermes, a very old building (1897) next to the traditional bath house (using volcanic heat). After the walk we check in to the hotel. Our guide manages to negotiate a cheap room for himself in the same hotel, and therefore we can make another walk through the streets of the city where the vendors are active in the starting twilight. Many of the people in the street offer us their local products. At 17:30 we come back to the hotel and get settled. The hotel is simpler than the other hotels we have visited so far. At 19:00 the restaurant opens for dinner. We are the only visitors, and get a little electric heater under the table to keep us warm.

 

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