. OnHiatus.com > Journal 1 > Day Index > Journal Entry: November 15, 1999

Monday, November 15, 1999
Antananarivo, Madagascar
Madagascar's Flag

Antananarivo, Madagascar:
Latitude: 18° 54' 40" South
Longitude: 47° 31' 34" East
Altitude: 4670 feet
From Seattle: 12429 miles
Lodging: Hotel - Hotel Muraille de Chine

Today's Travel:
Country: Madagascar
Region: Central Midlands
Route: Taxi Brousse: 'Tana - Ambohimanga, Ambohimanga - Tana
Start: Antananarivo, Madagascar
Stop 1. Ambohimanga
End:Antananarivo, Madagascar
Linear:24 miles
Weather: Partial Sun

Available Photos:

Rice paddies outside 'Tana Taxi Brousse: Antananarivo - Ambohimanga, Madagascar

Landscape Taxi Brousse: Antananarivo - Ambohimanga, Madagascar

Landscape Taxi Brousse: Antananarivo - Ambohimanga, Madagascar

Typical red house Ambohimanga, Madagascar

Fields / Mountains The Rova, Ambohimanga, Madagascar

Looking down on village The Rova, Ambohimanga, Madagascar

A few of the many Animist sacrificial alters The Rova, Ambohimanga, Madagascar

Rice paddies in valley The Rova, Ambohimanga, Madagascar

Paths inside the royal enclosure The Rova, Ambohimanga, Madagascar

Animist alter inside the royal enclosure The Rova, Ambohimanga, Madagascar

Royal gate The Rova, Ambohimanga, Madagascar

Walkway down from the Rova The Rova, Ambohimanga, Madagascar

Red house Ambohimanga, Madagascar

All photo images © 1997-2000 Anthony Jones - Images may not be used without prior written approval.

Click on map to Zoom in...
Trip Stats to Date:
Day: 949
Linear Dist: 188386
Countries Visited: 63
Regions Visited: 246
More stats...
Hotels: 301
Friends / Family: 231
Camping: 120
Hostels: 220
Transit: 63
Other Lodging: 13
Beers: 3379

Journal Entry:
Mostly stuck with my plan and ignored the lack of sleep, actually got up at nine. Went to a travel agent to see about getting out of 'Tana and ended up spending nearly two hours there (not to mention more than one and a quarter million Malagay Francs! Here's the current plan: Tomorrow fly to Toliara (via Tölanaro, aka Fort Dauphin) then take whatever road transport I can find to to Ifaty. Spend tomorrow afternoon, then the next day doing the beach thing (diving, sunning, etc.). Thursday morning head for Isalo National Park via public transport - could be a long day. Go on an evening / night hike, then a morning walk Friday. That afternoon head back to Toliara. Saturday Morning fly to Tölanaro (Fort Dauphin) and spend afternoon and next day there - hopefully getting to Berenty wildlife preserve. Then Monday morning fly back to 'Tana, and Tuesday leave Madagascar - wow it's going to be a busy week! It's also a bit scary because only the first two flights are confirmed - and I don't have any slack if I don't get on that last flight to 'Tana - I'm leaving the next day!!

Actually, today was very productive - at least relatively. In the morning did the travel agent, then spent the afternoon out of the capitol. Did a day trip to Ambohimanga. The once forbidden village of Ambohimanga is the site of the countries most famous Rova (royal palace). Originally built by King Andrianampoinimerina - the head of the Imerina tribe who conquered and unified Madagascar in the eighteenth century. I took a Taxi brousse (bush taxi) from 'Tana - and actually it felt really good to be using local transport again. I've always heard how difficult transport is in Madagascar - well judging from the two taxi brousses I've taken - it's excellent. The bush taxis here are among the best in Africa. They're cramped, but not as bad as most (they don't stack), the music is loud - but not to distortion, and the seats are at least a little padded.

The Rova was interesting, but nothing to exciting. However the site is spectacular - on a hill overlooking valleys filled with rice paddies, and the distant mountains as a backdrop. The area is known for it many tombs. I realized that with some disappointment when I was in Ambohimanga - I hadn't seen any. But on the way out when I was looking... they were everywhere. Most of the hoses are this incredible brick red color - very beautiful grand colonial style building. It took me a long time to realize that despite the houses looking so huge they're actually quite small - almost built on a Disneyland like scale.

I normally leave big bills in my money belt and keep the smaller bills in my pocket. The third time I got into my money belt today I started to get worried about what I was spending - then I realized the "big" bills were only worth about $1.50 - everything is relative I guess.

The traffic coming back into 'Tana was hideous. I finally gave up and jumped out to walk. I knew there was almost no chance of me finding my way home, but I figured I'd walk until it got dark and / or the traffic lightened up and then catch a taxi. It started to get dark and then drizzle but all the taxi's were full and I only had the vaguest idea of which direction to go. Finally I found a taxi and negotiated a price - he drove around the corner and suddenly I knew where I was - bummed, but then it turned out it would have been a longer walk than I thought. Went to the internet cafe to try and send the email that I'd worked on yesterday. but it was full - so I waited. The woman standing behind one of the guys using the computer looked really familiar. I spent time trying to figure out where I could know her from - Seattle? West Africa? Europe? - I just couldn't figure it out. When they were done they looked up and said "Tony?" It was Thomas and Christine - I last hung out with them in Kampala - we met rafting the Blue Nile!

I did my fifteen minutes of Internet then met up with them for diner. We went to a very popular (expatriate-type crowd) restaurant that had been recommended to them and had a great diner (I had Zebu - the local species of cow). It was really great to hang out with good (and English speaking!) company. Since Kampala they've done a similar deal. They had headed South, then gone home for a month for a wedding, returning now to continue traveling (though it's sounding like Christine is starting to be over the whole travel thing).

Rather late I said goodbye to them at their hotel and started to walk back. On one of the dark stairway alleys I had two guys approach and ask me for money. I said no but they kept on holding their hats out and following chattering non-stop. I knew what was coming, and caught the one guy with his hand in my pocket, and the other guy opening my pack - I chased them off, and they didn't get anything. When I was nearly to my hotel (20 minutes later) I realized my money belt was open. The zipper was broken. Either one of the guys was much better than I thought and I was really lucky in my timing, or it just happened to break. Since nothing was missing and it was stuffed with lots of extras (two rolls of film, the hotel key plus a good inch of currency) I'm assuming it was just chance. Kind of a bummer way to finish off a city that I had thoroughly enjoyed.

Related Sites:
US State Department Consular Information Sheets: Madagascar
CIA World Fact Book: Madagascar

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