The most scenic part of our journey through Madagascar began as we climbed into the mountains that form the spine of the island. We spent two nights at an incredible lodging built almost entirely of local stone, with no effort spared to show off the artistry of the masons. Just as impressive were some of the walkways and steps, which were literally carved out of the giant stone formations that comprised the site, and the extensive system of stone-lined trenches that collected rainwater into a private reservoir.
With the luxury, once again, of an entire day to spend in the local area, we decided to make some music in the hotel’s beautiful bar. Michel helped us out with a Malagasy song, Tambazako. Here’s a link to a Youtube recording of the song, by Eric Manana, definitely worth a listen. Our biggest hit of the evening, though, was Hotel California. That’s a favorite, everywhere we go.
Now that we were in the mountains, the scenery became more varied and interesting. Karel mastered his paparazzi technique of shooting candid photos from a moving vehicle. This method was especially good in Madagascar, because all the life and daily activities of the people take place right up next to or on the road. We often saw people using the edge of the road as a bench, where they ground grain, wove, whittled, sorted, hammered, and nursed. As we approached, they’d often lift a basket of rice, a tray of eggs, or a brace of chickens they wanted to sell. If we were anywhere near a town, the verge would be streaming with foot traffic and zebu carts, or wheel barrows, or sledges loaded with produce or char-wood, being pushed, pulled, or dragged to and from the market.
We visited several national parks during this part of our journey, and at last we got to see some of the legendary trees and wildlife of Madagascar’s unique ecosystems. On one night walk it was the sounds that I found most enchanting. I was never able to learn what I was hearing, whether it was frogs, or reptiles, or insects, or birds, but they made a sound like little bells or chimes.Madagascar, Vacation 2016: East/South Africa