madakanto

Everything you want to know about Madagascar and never dared to ask

Antsirabe The Red Island´s Coldest Place February 27, 2012

Visiting Antsirabe was on of our planned activities, firstly because it is one of the few touristic places in Madagascar, secondly because I´ve got family there. And more importantly, we were invited to a wedding. The daughter of a cousin got married and we were part of it. I was so looking forward to being there and I was glad my husband would experience a genuine Malagasy wedding. More about the wedding in the next post.

The last time I was there was in 1998 visiting my family. This time I was accompanied by my husband and a very good friend of his, Tony, coming from Australia. We only had an afternoon to see the town, so we passed on the typically touristic places and the market and decided to make a tour on a pousse-pousse. The worst thing was to escape from the pousse-pousse owners who were waiting for us to come out of our hotel and rushing at us the minute we were out. They did their best to force us to choose their vehicle. Madness! We were saved by our helpful chauffeur who scolded them from being so rude.

 

Our room at the hotel Les Camélias  was neat and clean. Unfortunately, the Malagasy had never heard of isolation. Antsirabe is situated in the centre of the island in the high mountains. In July, it´s winter. We were freezing all the time. It was the only place during my whole vacation where I did not sleep although I had three layers of clothes and lied under two wool blankets. It did not help.

However, it did not keep me from taking pictures, so I photographed everything around. More flowers from the hotel´s garden, the people on the streets, the pousse-pousse  owners pulling us heavy westerners and the craftsmen doing an extraordinary job.

 

When nobody saw me I would take out my camera and shoot. Otherwise, I would keep a low profile, but it was not so easy when you are flanked by two white men. Two vazahas *. Everybody looks at you all the time. And most of the time it is unbearable.

 

People were even more interested in me than in my husband. I could read a lot of questions on their faces. Where does this Malagasy looking girl come from? Is she rich? Of course she is since she managed to come here by plane . Where did she find those two vazahas ? What did she do to “get” them? And so on.

Despite a feeling of general discomfort, it was really enjoyable to discover the town by walking or by sitting in a pousse-pousse. This would have been impossible in Antananarivo.

Interesting links

Information on Antsirabe´s pousse-pousse (French)

* Don´t know what vazaha means ? Check this blog: http://vazahagasy.wordpress.com/about/vazaha-gasy-explained/

If you live in Stockholm and want to buy those little cars, you can buy them at this great little shop specialized in products from Africa: http://www.justafrica.se/

 

Presenting Madakanto October 15, 2011

This year I am being very productive. Here is my second blog whose main subject will be Madagascar, the Red Island. Map and flag

There are so many reasons why I am starting this blog, but I guess one of them is just because I was born there and I wanted to share my thoughts and feelings regarding this unknown and beautiful place. It is a fact, except some people who felt in love with the country right away when they visited it or scientifical researchers studying nature, nobody knows anything about Madagascar. I think it is sad, considering that it is the fourth largest island in the world, after Greenland, New Guinea and Borneo. People know more about Mauritius and La Reunion, simply because they are under British and French governance.

Second of all, I have just spent a month there and since we came back home, my friends kept asking us thousands of questions. One of my neighbours, who used to spend a lot of time in Africa, was so curious that she invited us for dinner and urged me to write a book. Well, no book, but a blog. Now I can tell everybody at the same time. And you may read it whenever you feel like it.

Moreover, this blog will come as a complement of my photo blog ARKanto, where you can look at my first photo albums as well as my other pictures taken in Sweden, France and Norway.

Being one of the very few Malagasy living in Sweden I also feel like it is a duty to me to write about Madagascar, so that people get a better knowledge and understanding of the culture. There are more than lemurs to discover!

Another extremely important reason for this blog is my support to Espérance Marianina Madagascar, my cousin´s non-profit organisation, which aims at reducing malnutrition in rural areas and helps prevent children from quitting school. I will try to keep you informed on the organisation´s work and how the children are doing.

So, how often will you have the pleasure of reading this blog? I was hoping to send a post at least once a week, but I have not decided yet which day it would be, for I have another blog – All The Things I Am – where I write mostly about my life as a non-Swede in Sweden. A lot of writing it will be! I suppose the end of the week would be the best time for me. We´ll see!

As I said previously, I would only talk about things and people who are related to Madagascar. So, I will start by telling you about a great music band which came to Stockholm last week that is to say Kilema.

 

 
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