After a long day in the rainforest and a restful night we had to wake up very early because we had a long drive ahead of us. We woke up at 6:00 and had breakfast while our luggage was loaded at the yellow bus. Ahead of us was an 11 hour drive with several stops, going back to Tana and then to Antsirabe
We left our wonderful lodge at around 7:30, taking back the road to Antananarivo we had traveled from two days before. We had a better look at Moramanga in the morning, and then we stopped on a small village market a little after.
Now, Moramanga is a very important town in Malagasy history as it was there the rebellion against French colonial rule started in 1947. It was crushed brutally but finally Madagascar gained their independence in 1960. It’s such a historical place then!
We made a large stop on a village market before Antananarivo. On any given area, everyday is market day on a different village so people are moving around from village to village selling and buying stuff. It is also a big occasion for villagers, time to meet friends and relatives, socialize etc.
I was amazed by the stuff that was on sale on the market. Apart from the usual fruits, vegetables, seeds etc there were sections devoted to kitchenware, appliances, even small but complete bicycle shops (selling parts and repairing bicycles)! Our guide explained that in most villages there are no shops of any kind, so the weekly market is their only means of acquiring such essentials. For example, bicycle parts and repair is a big business because bicycles are very widely used. But there are no permanent shops outside the cities, roving bicycle repairmen take from village to village on market days on makeshift, temporary stands
After the village we travelled onwards to Antananarivo for a couple of hours. In Tana we stopped on the same super market as two days before, for picking up supplies. The meal plan for the day was to have a piknic lunch on a nice spot a little after Antananarivo and the drive on and have dinner on Antsirabe where we would spend the night. I picked up some bread, cheese, ham/turkey etc. And some fruit
Sure enough we stopped a little after the capital, on a nice meadow just by the road. We were higher than Andasibe and vegetation is much different, with trees resembling Europe or North America (mostly eucalyptus trees). We had a nice and simple pic-nic lunch and then we travelled on. After around one hour we made a detour to stop in Ambatolampy, a small town well known for its aluminum workshops. Seems this town is famous all over Madagascar for aluminum recycling : They send used aluminum there where it is processed in the many workshops, melted and cast into new items.
We visited one such workshop, something very simple and fascinating. Seemed like industrial processes from a very long ago. I also got a small aluminum baobab as a souvenir. I hadn’t yet seen any baobab tree but I would in the south later on
We visited one such workshop, something very simple and fascinating. Seemed like industrial processes from a very long ago. We did a full tour of the facilities and the process. I also got a small aluminum baobab as a souvenir. I hadn’t yet seen any baobab tree but I would in the south later on
After Ambotalampy we left for Antsirabe, around one more hour drive to the south, where we would spend the night. We got there at around 6pm, which is around the time of sunset. Approaching Antsirabe we met herds of zebus driving on the other side of the road. Seems Antsirabe is a major market town where people gather to buy and sell zebu. And since the RN 7 is the only ‘highway’, zebus also travel on this road alongside all other traffic. We even made a short photo stop and watched as cars, mini buses and other traffic was swerving trying to take over the zebu herds
We checked in at the hotel, a decent one but rather old. Then we went out for food, we stopped at a nearby restaurant. I got calzone pizza and also very nice local (red wine). Seems Antsirabe is in the wine growing region of Madagascar. The climate is cooler because of the higher altitude so it is possible to grow vines. And because of the volcanic soil the wine has a charecteristic dry and sulfuric taste
Afterwards we just went back to sleep since we had to get up very early again for the hike to a village for a night of homestay. But that is another story for another day!