Going south

For the last few days we have been in Ampefy, a three-hour drive south of Antananarivo. The road went up and down and zigzag across a wide landscape with small villages here and there. The houses are made mostly of mud brick. We passed many of the places where these bricks are (hand)made, and lie drying in the sun.

The houses are small, narrow and tall. They remind me of Raffi’s house in one of the Rey’s children’s books. The hills are dotted with groves of eucalyptus or pine trees. Sometimes the silhouettes of single trees interrupt the line of hills. These look like the ones in the books of Dr. Seuss, as if Madagascar had been his inspiration.

During the day it is warm but as soon as the sun goes down it becomes outright cold. I was not prepared for that, having brought only summer clothes, flip-flops and sandals. The Malgaches are better prepared with scarves, warm socks and fleece coats. Some brave souls swim in the morning in the hotel’s pool, unimaginable to me as shiver in my summer clothes.

We are lodged in comfortable two story bungalows next to a eucalyptus tree grove. It smells nice and drinks nice, as the local tea is a combination of ginger and eucalyptus.

Breakfast consist of rice and meat (rice is the staple, served with every meal). The morning rice is soupy with greens and spices. All leafy greens are called « brèdes » though individual greens have their own names as well. The soup is very tasty and very filling. The meal is served with small pieces of salty beef, except for this morning when we got small meatballs, not quite as exciting. The soup and the eucalyptus tea warm me up as I wait for the sun to climb its arch and heat the place up.

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