Meet: the lemur
Trip Start Mar 17, 2007
450Trip End Ongoing
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We meet Andry, who, luckily, does not drive the typical Madagascar R4 but a 'normal' Peugeot.
First stop is the Lemur Park. Lemur is the symbol of Madagascar, not known by name but everybody recognizes the animal.
We notice: it is washing day in Madagascar. Everybody has their laundry out and it is washed in ponds, rivers and the sea. Some of the rivers are dark red! People brought their tents and it is like a day out.
We drive for more than an hour over the 25kms. The roads are bad. Andry's mother tongue is French. He went to a private school. In public schools, the Madagascar dialect is the first language.
The country is beautiful. A lady, with a basket on her head, spits at our car. Andry apologizes. I understand her. She is walking through the hot sun with a lot of weight, in the hills, probably for a long time and those bloody tourists are driven around. She does not know those same tourist, could take her country out of the poverty. Nowadays 25 percent of the economy is coming from ... vanilla in Madagascar. 10 percent of the vanilla, in the world, is grown in Madagascar.
We get our private guide, since we want the tour in English. The lemurs are not kept in cages and are all from Madagascar but different regions. They are brought here because some of them are in danger of being extinct. There are 9 different types of wish 7 are here. I agree, we do expect a tourist trap. But it is great! There are some fences. But they can easily jump over them. They do come back, though, because they are fed and they are safe inside.
The nature and the plants are nice to, but nothing compare to the lemurs!
The first one is the ordinary brown one, whose says to me: who are you???
The second one is the dancing lemur, which is the symbol of Madagascar. The baby is 5 months old.
There is also the ring-tailed one. Who gave me a kiss!
We meet the local turtles. They are both adults, just different kinds.
More lemurs to be discovered: the nocturnal: the size of a mouse.
I hate to leave them.
We let Andry take us to a restaurant, where we have our meal in a private patio, while Andry is cleaning his car. I decide to have the Madagascar dish', whatever that is. Unfortunately, that is out and the local fish is recommended. I do not like it so much. It tastes a bit like trout. And is accompanied by white rice. And I am not such a plain white rice lover.
Anyway, next stop: the palace of the all-powerful king Andrianampoinimerina (and you thought Antananarivo was a tongue breaker). He had 12 wives of which only one was living with home: the queen. The others he visited once a month. The palace is constructed by a French engineer Laborde in 1870. It still contains the original furniture. Like: a cupboard full of mirrors: the queen always had to keep an eye on her guests in the mirror, to be sure they did not poison her. It is all very primitive, actually: very small beds. The Madagascar sleep in fetus position (even nowadays, our guide explains) : they think it is bad luck to stretch out: that is for your grave.
The surrounding walls were built from egg white of which parts are still original. The center pole is made of one piece of wood, carried there by 2000 slaves, of which 100 did not survive. Lots of slaves were sacrificed in the palace. The guide shows us where. I think: 'vivid imagination: I think I smell blood.' But, no, Zebus are still regularly sacrificed here. The people think the king is still in the palace. I enjoy the history, the stories and the views. Dr T is a bit disappointed. He expected a palace a la Versailles ... .
We took too much time for our visits, so the croq farm is not going to happen anymore. We do stop for a picture of a zebu: they are all that skinny! I like the meat but I do not think it tastes like beef: it is more like game (wild boar, Mic).
Arriving at the hotel, we are just in time to see the sun go down over 'our' trees.
Tomorrow is a bit different, you will see... .