Monday, April 25, 2011

The Home Stretch

I am back in Tana, for this, the last visit of my trip. I fly out on Wednesday, which left me just enough time to get sick- I have a miserable cold! But, I am so happy to be heading home that I don't even care. The following is a wee blurb about Tana, and then an overview of my activities of late...

Though polluted, congested and generally horrible, Tana does offer a few things I enjoy. Last night, for example, I had chocolate fondue with fresh tropical fruit for desert. It is made with really good quality 70% dark chocolate from Western Madagascar, and is simply out-of-this-world. This morning, I had cafe au lait, tarte peche, and pain au raisin at the Colbert. I've had lots of yummy treats and pastries since leaving the field, but Colbert pastries are on a whole other level of deliciousness. Also, I bought English versions of Time and The Economist magazines. How exciting! And, I am currently laying in my hotel bed and using the internet. Wow!

Oh, I was almost robbed this morning though. Some older boys surrounded me and one kid put out a hat as if to ask for money. They were very aggressive and way to close or touching me. The boy with the hat held it directly at my purse, essentially blocking my view, while he and the others tried to covertly get into my purse. I just kept slapping them and the hat away and telling them NO and they eventually gave up. Phew. Oh, and some dude was seriously considering either grabbing or robbing me this afternoon. He was really sketchy and aggressive and though we were walking nearly side-by-side he kept trying to get behind me. I was in one of the zillions of rather dodgy stairwells in Tana, so I couldn't get away. I just didn't let him get behind or too close and stared right at him. As soon as I got the chance, I made a quick exit. He yelled a few things after me, but continued on without incident. Double phew.

Before Tana, I took a small trip out to the countryside to stay at "Marc's" (not using people's real names is super weird. Do I have to?) family's farmland. It was nice and quiet and I got to see just how much work people have to do merely to subsist. My goodness. Imagine if every time you wanted chicken you had to 1) catch it, 2) kill it, 3) drain the blood, 4) pluck the feathers, 5) clean and gut it, and 6) butcher it, all before you started cooking. And that is just chicken, never mind what you want to have with it. Or rice. Rice is an insane amount of work. It is amazing that rice ever became popular given the amount of energy that goes into producing it. Crazy. I also got to see peanut plants! For some reason this was very exciting to me. Here is a pic:

And the house I stayed in (can you spot Gary?)

And a piggy

And grandma, chillin'

Before that, I also took a small trip to Andasibe to see Indri. They are so fantastic! I don't make a great tourist now though, as I am totally annoyed by other tourists and want to wonder off into the forest to wherever the frig I want. And, I want to follow the animals. And, I think I know everything, which I most certainly do not. Luckily, for the guide's sake, I was too tired to get into much trouble or to be too annoying. Here is an Indri shot- check out her humungous foot!

And just in case you don't see the Indri, they have a couple in the MNP office

Last, I went to a captive lemur center called "Lemurs Park." Most captive places in Mad are not so great, stemming from the fact that they wild catch animals. Plus, the animals usually are sick, really scruffy and/or fat, and are encouraged to climb all over visitors by way of food treats. For a number of reasons, I have issues with all of these, but was pleasantly surprised with Lemurs Park's. The animals look great and have all come from confiscations or were previously captive. Plus, you must stay at least 2m away from the animals and are not permitted to feed them. Ah, they actually care more about the animals welfare than the tourist money! Also, other than animals that are in quarantine, the lemurs are free ranging. It was really nice to see. Here are a few of the critters I saw:

Brown lemurs (they even made piggy noises for me!)

A very sleepy Bamboo Lemur

Coquerel's Sifaca


Well, just one more day in Tana. I plan to stuff myself with lovely French pastries, get a massage, and do a wee bit of shopping. And I will try not step in human excrement or get mugged. Just saying.


  1. I have never in all my billions of years going to Mada., been at Lemurs Park. Now I must go next time. I love the 'rules' sign! Anja needs one of those, but they wouldn't enforce the rules at all. And I really want one of those toy Indri in the MNP office! Were they like plush animals (like Gary) or papier mache? I imagine Gary needs a wash pretty badly by now...
    I am surprised that the 'hat dance' has been ressurected. It was in full force in the mid 90s, a full 15-16 years ago and then it stopped. The only time I was robbed (of just a few dollars) was in 1996 when a bunch of horrible kids surrounded me and did the hat dance. Sounds like Tana has really backslid, it was pretty bad last summer, but it sounds worse now.

  2. Yes- You should go to Lemurs Park (! They have been open for 10 years and are doing a really good job.
    The MNP Indri were plush and life-size! Gary has a suit, which I have been washing, so only his head is dirty. Still, his head is a scary shade of grey.
    Tana feels pretty sketchy this time around. And, there are casinos popping up all over- even the Colbert has a casino now!