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Day 5 - Antsirabe to Fianarantsoa

MADAGASCAR | Wednesday, 5 May 2010 | Views [500]

We got jipped. Plain and simple. Kind of. We decided to rent a guide who was going to take us to Tulear over 7-8days. According to the boss (read salesman) our guide was either going to be him or one of his partners who could also speak English. Instead, this morning when we arrived at the pickup point, the “tour guide” was nothing more than a self admit chauffer with only manageable French and less than basic English skills. So we’ve rented a car for the week (140Euro). And we’re a bit more wary of scammers. (Post note: see day 9, we weren’t ripped off quite so badly after all...)

The trip we’re taking is from Ansirabe to Tulear on National Road 7, the only well maintained road in the country. The first stop was at a woodcraft factory/souvenir store where we were invited to see the workers out back. We also rested by a broken bridge (it ‘burst’ in 2002) where two boys sat at a stall playing pasa-quatre (a game with a four sided grid drawn in chalk) in the midday sun. Right now even the most trivial things still excite me.

Our destination, Fianarantsoa, is nothing remarkable in itself, but is where our train journey will begin to a small village in the east. That considered, we spent the afternoon well, first visiting a photo gallery of a talented Malagasy photographer Pierrot Man and then visiting the old quarters of the town. I definitely recommend walking around the hour or two after school ends for the day 4-5pm. The streets were filled with children and teens walking home down the main road. Many literally threw themselves in front of our cameras to have their photos taken, but best of all was the variety of their surprised, excited, and inquisitive responses when they saw themselves in the viewer. We met a group of teenage boys about halfway up the street and soon had found ourselves some companions for the walk. They took us to where the town’s oldest churches and schools are and we were further bombarded by another wave of primary school kids. I met two girls who asked me to send them a picture of them together. They both spoke excellent English despite being only 13 and were also learning French, Spanish, Italian and German in class! They too joined our group and we soon had quite an entourage.

After being exposed to the monetary need of the people here, both Arno and I were beginning to wonder when the talk of school fees and money required for food would pop up. We were greatly surprised when the younger kids left without too much fuss (they were selling cards after all, but unlike many, could take no for an answer), while the boys only requested I take some photos of them together and then continued to chat while escorting us down again. I did receive one boy’s profession of love, both in French and then English, but that’s only to be expected after spending an evening with me.

 

Tags: fianarantsoa

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