Oops, Guatemala is spelt with an ‘e’ not an ‘a’, so my factette about Madagascar being the only country in the world with 4 ‘a’s in the name seemed almost valid, that is until I woke up this morning in a cold sweat, the name of another country with 4 ‘a’s in it on my quivering lips. I’ll leave it to you to figure that one out.
So, as a pleasant surprise, I’m back in Tamatave, Madagascar – a day earlier than I was led to believe. This is wonderful news. I said my hearty thanks and goodbyes to Chief Mate Richard and Capt Klaus and shuffled off the DAL Madagascar. The wonderful shipping agent, Ricky helpfully gave me a lift to the taxi-brousse area, where a minibus was leaving as soon as it filled. By about 10am, I was on my way back to the brilliantly unpronounceable capital city, Antananarivo.
The sheer beauty of Madagascar is a joy to behold. The road between Tamatave (Taomasina) and Antananarivo is breathtaking – long and winding, yes, but breathtaking nonetheless. Grown men shooting down the road on wooden go-carts and the rich Goblin Green that covers the interior of this magical land. All the little village shacks at the side of the road are made of wood with pitched leaf-thatched roofs. Lovely.
Antananarivo is one unique capital city, I have to say. There’s concrete, yeah, but nowhere near in as biblical proportions as in other African cities – tons of stuff is made of brick, stone and wood, and the style – well, I don’t know how to describe it – it’s like a very tropical version of European early 1900s architecture. I love it. It’s set out on more hills than Rome, which makes for a dramatic vista every time you look out of the window.
Tonight, I arrived just too late to make the bus to Diego Suarez, my ultimate destination in the very north of the country. So I checked into a cheap little place and in the centre and treated myself to a great big pepper steak in a posh restaurant. It cost less than a fiver. I love this place.