Last two weeks in Mada On 28th Dec in the evening we cought our next taxi-brousse to the South – we planned to celebrate New Year in a nice village, ex colonial resort, located at the Ocean and to take our last Ocean bath in Mada (after we were going to the mountains). It was a very raining evening which made us so afraid that our last part of the trip in Mada would be a very wet one.
After one night in the car we arrived in Fiana at 7 am, happy that we will cought the picturesque train going to Manakara. We had to wait one full day at the train station as there was some accident on the rails and nobody knew when exactly the train would leave. There were different versions spread amongst the people waiting – versions fabricated only to give hope and to reduce the disappointment… We liked the one that the train would be leaving at 11am but latest at noon. After this time went into the past, we grabbed the version that the train would be leaving at 6pm. At 7pm we went to have dinner in a small gargotte. At 8pm Damien run to the train station to check and came to pick us with the fascinating news that the train would be leaving in 20 minutes. Finally comfortable settled at our seats in the train (Damien next to a family with 4 generation – the grand-grandmother, the grandmother, the mother and the baby and Nina, Mira and Sashko – smashed with a round fat woman with her older daughter and her baby, who she was breastfeeding all the night long), we were able to wait until midnight when the train slowly, slowly got off and disappered in the forest.We missed the first 4 hours of the picturesque trip as the night was fully on but at 5am we discovered the beauty of this mountain rail path. We passed small mountain villages, skattered in green hills –that time of the day was the busiest: the small open shops (just shells on the street) were opening, the first women selling coffee and tea were ready with the hot pots, the first hot fried balls were done, the first piles with bananas were prepared to be sold, the fastest (and perhaps the cleanest) women were already at the phontain doing the laundry of the family…
When we arrived at Manakara, for the first time we experienced travelling with pousse-pousse (a small carriage with a comfortable seat for two, at 2 wheals pooled by a man) – these were the taxis of the city. Manakara is not so impressive town but we had something from there as well: for the first time in Madagascar we saw the local people having fun and promenade at the avenues next to the ocean. We had so good breakfast at the market - sitting on a bench in front of a wooden table with doubtfull cleanliness, in the middle of the market, just in between bananas, mangos, coconuts, bags with rice and flouer, fish, meat completely covered with black flies, bags with beans, bread and coffee shops and having our morning tea, coffee and bread with butter - these were memorable breakfasts.
Exactly on 31st of December Mira broke her front teeth and moved with 45 degrees the other front one, falling from the bike of Damien...; with face covered with blood we visited the local hospital - Nina was terrified from the emptiness of the rooms of this old building and from the blood spots on the floor and on the bed sheets where Mira was putted to sit... - Mira was brave but her Mum almost fainted; we had the New Year in that town! - soup for Mira as she was not able to use her teeth, delicious spagetti and rice for all the rest, Fanta, beer and rhum! – kids went to bed at 9.30pm, we finished our beer, kissed all the people in the restaurant at 12 o'clock and quietly went to bed.
On 2nd of January we reached the mountain village of Ambalavo. There we saw a zebus market - though it was almost the end, it was worth seeing it. The zebus of that region are strong, big and beautiful. They look stubborn with their big horns and it is nice to watch the big herds closed in squares with wooden fence waiting to be sold or to be put back in the trucks.
Next days we went to the Tsaranoro Valley in the mountain of Andringitra. We were camping there - we took a tent, sleeping bags, food (inclusive one alive hen – our 2nd day diner). These were one of our best days in Madagascar: the mountains were beautiful, every day we were making long walks under quite heavy rain, the view of the mountain outlined on the grey cloudy sky with little sun beams hiding somewhere in the darkness was really capturing, the rocks at the top of the hills looked proud and barely accessible - like that making themselves so desirable, the food prepared from Serafine (the woman responsible for us and for the camp) was one of the most delicious we had in Mada and for the first time we had a 3 course dinner with apperitive of rum and peanuts (citron tea for the kids!). For all of us, surprisingly for the kids as well, it was very pleasant to walk under the rain - the mountains were somehow so attracting so we were not noticing the wet clothes sticking on us, the cold wind and the slippery and steep red paths - perhaps it was the view around, or the air, or the hope that the sun will come soon to dry our clothes and to warm our hearts, or the expectation for the good lunch prepared by Serafine, waiting in our backpack, or the desire to conqure the top that made us happy to walk all day. It was equally good pleasure to reach the end of the walk with heavy from the water shoes and the sun to come suddenly so strong and so hot, and to warm and dry us just for minutes.
Last 4 days of our Mada trip we spent in Tana. We had time to say goodbye to Monique and to the colourful region around her house, to Olivier, his beautiful house and his 10 types of different animals living there (dogs, cats, lezard, fishes, lemurians, parrots, goat, hens, ducks, gooses...), to the busy market and the busy streets. We had time to welcome PK and Marianne, and to tell them goodbye - they visited us and Madagascar for 2 full days! We had time to buy few presents from the beautiful craft market. Nina had time to get sick, and we had time to panick and to administrate her antimalaria treatment.
On 14th of Jan, all of us - clean and very happy - took the plane to Paris! We felt happy and rich with the time spent in Madagascar, happy it's finished, happy to go back home to see our family, happy for the days waiting for us in the still undiscovered Asia …