Departure and Arrival
Antananarivo to Antsirabe:
After the best weekend of our lives, getting married and seeing all our wonderful friends and family at once, we had half a day to pack and a broken night of roughly 4 hours sleep before we had to leave the house at 5am with the poor La Mamma who volunteered (in a moment of tiredness) to bring us to the airport.
We arrived at Malpensa and very quickly boarded to our Paris flight which was on time even if a bit bumpy. At Charles Des Gaulle though we had to queue for over 1 hour at the connections passport – probably the French wanted to help us getting used to the patience that you need in Africa because there were many automatic gates all out of use, and only about 5 people checking passports.
Once we got through we just had about 10 minutes to get some food and board on our massive plane from Paris to Antananarivo. We thought we’d be clever and book to separate seats 20A and 20C so that hopefully the flight was half empty and we could get three seats. But of course the flights was completely packed. We met a lovely lady who was happy to let us seat next to each other called Marie-Claude who is from Belgium but now leaves in France. She has 5 kids and she is going to spend 2 months in Madagascar with her husband doing some charity work. It’s her second time here, four years ago she did three months and her and her husband lived in different parts of Africa making their lives much more interesting than ours – so we loved listening to all her stories. She has a B&B as part of her house in Charente in a place called La Preze and we hope we’ll go and visit her one day. The flight was ok, although leg room challenging for Brucey and not comfortable enough to sleep much – especially since it was during the day – we left on time at 11am and landed at 2240 local time.
I watched a few films during the flight mainly rom coms to cheer me up from the thought of dieing on the plane while Brucey watched Scifi scary stuff such as the latest Alien.
At arrival we spent over 1 hour in another queue, for passport control, then Visa (25 euros each) and then for another couple of useless passport checks. We then met our man Fidi (not sure about the spelling but it’s pronounced FEEDEE). Lovely guy with good English and French, three kids and 2 grandsons, who will be driving us for the coming 12 days.
He dropped us off at our hotel for the night called Lokanga Hotel – amazing place with fantastic furniture and impeccable design taste, and a breathtaking terrace overlooking the city of Tana (how the locals call Antananarivo). Shame we are only staying one night and it’s already 1:30am!
Although the toilet is inside the room, with no doors but just a wooden shield so not too romantic in that sense… The joys of married life already starting..!
We took a few meds to try and get rid of the cold, cough and sore throat after a weekend of feeling invincible the tiredness is catching up with us!
After a fantastic breakfast with a view we met Fidi and went to the Botanical Garden in Tana. A nice place with lots of birds to see, a crocodile and some nice heron ponds. It all looked pretty standard if not disappointing, until we reached the lemurs cages and the local man asked us to get in at the back.
They opened four or five cages for us, with lots of different species of lemurs and put some honey in our hands to invite them to sit on us and lick it off! An amazing experience, they are such sweet cute animals. In Madagascar there are over 100 species and it’s the only place in the world where they live.
After this fantastic experience we started the drive towards Antsirabe, stopping on the way to take some photos of the beautiful scenery, rice paddies and red mountains and hills. In this period of the year they build bricks with the ashes and earth coming from the rice paddies so you can see piles of bricks in the middle of the rice fields. We stopped at a workshop to see how they make pans and pots with recycled metals and then had a lovely lunch at Le Rendez Vous the Pecheurs in Ambatolampy which is half way through Tana and Antsirabe. We tried the Zebu (a cow with a very big hunchback!) steak which is delicious and very local and tested out the local THB beer (Three Horses Beer made in Madagascar)
After lunch we fell asleep in the car and hopefully didn’t snore too much before arriving at Antsirabe and seeing some other interesting workshops: the miniatures and embroidery shop Chez Mamy where a lovely man makes miniature bikes from recycled materials and some ladies make embroidered cotton sheets and table cloths. Then a quick stop at the Atelier Corne de Zebu where they showed us how they make objects with Zebu horns using the motor of an old washing machine.
Destroyed but happy we got to our hotel The Couleur Cafe to chill out, and have a shower before a tasty dinner with a delicious cabbage soup, Zebu and rice and chocolate tarte accompanied by red wine. Married life isn’t too bad so far! Bruce is complaining he has a cold cough etc but I’ve just given him enough drugs so hopefully tomorrow he’ll be “come nuovo”!