2 days - June 2019
After a few warm days on the East Coast, we go back to the Highlands (Haut Plaetaux) and its cold!
There is the train option to go back, we pass our turn, we’ve tried!
It is thus in taxi-brousse that we will make the 250 kilometers that separate us from Ambalavao. A taxi-brousse ride comes with a lot of stories. Arrived to the stop, the driver changes the wheels, in Madagascar it’s normal...
During the 2h30 waiting to fill in the van, we will try the hats of the kings, sympathize with the passengers and wait calmly. In Madagascar "we advance 'Mora Mora' (slowly) but we never step back",we understand this motto and wait patiently.
During the multiple stops in the small villages (at least 50 stops) there are thirty sellers (mostly children) with bananas, cassava, chicken for sale. And even chicken alive, which is inspected through the glass before buying it or not and taking it to the van. Someone offer to Cédric to buy a goose. Then the children encircle us at each stop by shouting "Vahazas give candies" then it goes crescendo with the notebooks, the money, the hat, the jacket and so on.
Everyone keeps telling us that there is no jobs in Madagascar (which we understand) but why the only ones to work are children? They do not go to school, are sent begging or selling bananas at best and at worst prostituting themselves ... Always an adult behind to push them.
We discover a reality that disappoints us, annoys us and that we really do not understand. And the president does not make education free because it's easier to have ignorant people to keep filling their pockets with cash... It's the first time we see this on such a large scale, whatever the region of the country ...
Let's go back to our taxi-brousse! 9 hours of difficult travel with multiple stops to fill the seats, we finish at 6 instead of 4. Then night falls and we have a transfer. We are "sold" by our driver to another driver but who refuses to put us in the taxi-brousse that will leave (supposedly there are no seats but we are not novices there is always room in taxi-brousse!). When we realize what’s going on, the tension rises, the tone goes up, some guys prevent me from passing. Cedric, who was trying to see which vehicle was leaving first, came back and we escaped somehow. Why did they want us to be stuck at the station at nighttime? We will never know it and we came out after some adrenalin ...
Ambalavao is the cutest village in Madagascar that we visited. It’s National holiday today, we see many parades, some with many rifles, we do stay for long. At night, the children play with light and start fires. Far west style!
The village has a beautiful church and damaged trails. We are surprised to see that the administrative buildings have signs in French and we find some 2CV, a sign of colonization that is not so far away ...
Around there is always the beautiful rice fields, the mountains, the red earth. We feel good.
Anja about ten kilometers is a reserve managed by the community (Betsileo I think). The park counts the presence of Maki lemurs that are not shy at all. Their specificity: a striped tail. They sleep, do their business, watch us. We are charmed by this little mammal. And the chameleons are even more beautiful! All green for females who can change colors while males are brown / brown.
We hike a few hours in the park, at the foot of a beautiful rocky massif.
The largest zebus market is in Ambalavao but unfortunately on this national day it will not take place.
The zebu is sacred. Whatever the tradition (transition to adulthood, marriage, death) we will find one or more zebus that will be sacrificed or not. Besides, we will be repeated several times, a sacred object should not be pointed out.
That’s it for the Hauts Plateaux, a new epic taxi-brousse ride awaits us to reach the attraction of the country: Isalo National Park.
# we stayed at the hotel "Aux Bougainvilliers" for 76000 per night. Correct. Not the restaurant though ... We had not booked in advance.
# the best place to eat: Residence Betsileo.
# we enjoyed the Anja Community Reserve A bit pricey but nice. A guide is required (120000 Ariary for two entries and the guide)
# the tuktuk to get there is to negotiate around 40000 ariary round trip (15 kms from Ambalavao)
# It's nice to hang out in the village and go to the market too.
# The zebus market is held on Wednesdays and Thursdays