The Norwegians were here

Tonight we are sleeping in Antsirabe. We could have pushed on to the capital but I had called a break. [In hindsight we could not have, as it was another 4 hours on the road. We would have driven after dark which is not allowed aside from not being advisable on paved roads]. It allowed me to hang out with an ICRC colleague and catch up on emails after having been off the grid for a few days.

Antsirabe is the second largest city in Madagascar. In the 19th century the Norwegians were here. They imported milk cows and fruit trees. Now this region is known for its dairy products and fruit.

My colleagues were looking for the artisanal cheese place. There only reference point was a large green house where the turn off would be, but we couldn’t find it. Bringing cheese home from here is worth the detour. I hope they managed during their first free afternoon to find it. [They did].

The white and black spots so familiar from Dutch cows are visible in the zebus which, I suppose, crossbred with the milk cows. I can’t think why else some of the zebus look like skinny Dutch cows, except for the bobbly bumps behind their heads.

There is not much else to show for the Norwegians, except maybe for the –son extension of names. Maybe there are Axelsons here.

I met with S from ICRC for dinner in the hotel. After days of eating rice with broth and rice tea (the dregs of the rice kettle mixed with water to serve the dual purpose of cleaning the pan and providing extra nutrients to the drinker), I splurged on duck, ice cream and wine. The total bill, very reasonable to me (15 dollars pp) would have shocked my Malagasy colleagues. I didn’t spend as much in the entire three days we have been on the road on all my meals combined.

Tomorrow we are heading to Tana and conclude the first of the two sweeps through the regions where our leadership program was implemented. We will rest tomorrow and then get back to work to summarize what we learned into a format that others can do something with.

1 Response to “The Norwegians were here”


  1. 1 Judith J. Haycock April 25, 2017 at 6:30 pm

    I marvel at the things you endure during your trips for MSH… they are so lucky to have you as their representative.

    I read with interest all of your posts. Sending you special love and hugs… Judy


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