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Day 8 - Ambavalo

MADAGASCAR | Saturday, 8 May 2010 | Views [930]

Ambavalo and an unexpected return to Fiana. A slight bout of tummy bug and cold (I caught the cold a couple of days ago)... BUT! My first sighting of lemurs in Madagascar! Ring tailed lemurs (the black and white stripy tailed ones) at Anja park, approximately 400km from Tana (7000Ar/3000Ar for students, plus 10,000Ar for an hour guided tour). The massive granite boulders gave the landscape yet another different feel. The idea behind the privately owned 36 hectare park is an inspiration for Malagasy empowerment; sustainable tourism and farming practises run by a local village organisation.

 

We passed numerous herds of zebu on the roads, but unfortunately were not in time for the famous markets held here every Wednesday.

The other well known attraction to Ambalavo is the flowered paper made using the Avoha tree and based on old Arab techniques. We were guided through the process step by step by one of the workers (Free). Basically the tree is shredded, boiled, rung out and beat with mallets, mixed with water and set on cloth where petals and leaves are added according to the personal designs of the maker. What is impressive is how well the colours of the petals keep even after drying and storage. The factory also processes silk from cocoon to scarf (but no worms to be seen).

 

Tonight we’re at the Soratel hotel in Fiana (36,000Ar for a single double or double single). The rooms are luxurious but impersonal. We’re also paying much more than at Mini-croque where we’d stayed two nights previously (26,000 for a double single, make sure the toilet cistern doesn’t run constantly... very annoying at 2am), though the change of scenery is nice.

The restaurant of the night was something to note. A Chinese restaurant/bar close by(‘something’ Panda?) was particularly Chinese in that it serves all sorts of wild exotic meats. From wild boar to crocodile, to my favourite, “giant bat that eats fruit, not protected”, the menu was endless in its list of game. I ordered a tame plate of frogs legs (I’d been looking out for them ever since seeing them at the Tana markets; did not disappoint) and Arno a stuffed crab shell. Maybe not the best food to eat while overcoming a stomach bug but who could resist!

Tomorrow to Ranahira and the gem mines.

 

Tips for travelers: The last ATM on route 7 to Tulear is at Fianarantsoa, and small town hotels don’t take cards, so cash up. Big mistake otherwise (and why we returned!)

Michael Jackson (RIP) transcends all cultural barriers. We’d switched from Malagasy to Western music and our driver instantly became animated when ‘Black and White” came on

Tags: ambavalo

 

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