Today we drove from Andasibe (pronounced an-da-see-bay) -Mantadia National Park to Antsirabe (pronounced ant-seer-a-bay). This was a stop over point on our way to our next destination – Morondava which we will arrive at tomorrow night.
We left Andasibe-Mantadia Park and headed back to Antananarivo along the same winding mountainous road that we drove in on.
Along the drive we saw many vans headed toward Antananarivo flying a yellow and white flag. These are the colors of the Catholic Church. We learned from Rado that the pope was visiting Antananarivo today and all the vans were coming from around Madagascar to see him.
We bypassed Antananarivo city center with all the traffic (which would have been even more with the pope’s visit) and headed southeast on highway N7 toward Antsirabe. N7 is a tourist route according to Rado. There are many small villages along the road that sell specialized items that their villages are known for. The first village sold strawberries. The next one sold pineapples.
The next one sold foie gras. We had lunch in the foie gras town at a foie gras restaurant. Jay tried a plate of three different kinds of foie gras, but I just couldn’t bring myself to try fattened duck liver. His face made me laugh the entire lunch because he couldn’t hide his dislike every time he took a bite.
We passed many more towns after lunch until we came to one town that specialized in aluminum. The people who work in the aluminum shops find scrap aluminum all over the city and melt it down to make cooking pots and carve trinkets. Rado gave us a tour of their work area. The men worked in dusty hot conditions.
They also worked barefoot while pouring boiling liquid aluminum into sand molds at their feet. This didn’t seem very safe, not to mention the fact that they were breathing in the aluminum fumes, dust, and smoke for 9 hour days.
They did hard laborious work, and we wanted to support them, so we bought some aluminum crafts from their shop.
The rest of the ride was beautiful. It turned from mountainous lands to more of green rolling hills. Everything was still terraced on the smaller hills. Here, many of the rice fields were dry turned dirt. Rado said they were getting the plots ready for the rainy season.
We finally made it to Antsirabe. Antsirabe means “big salt” in Malagasy. The area is an old volcanic site that now has many natural springs full of salt and minerals from the volcano.
When we entered town, Rado took us to our hotel. Then Jay and I headed out for a walking tour and dinner. We needed to stretch our legs after our long car ride. We had a nice dinner at a pizza place that also served Malagasy food. The menu was in French and the waiter barely spoke English, so I ended up just getting a pizza and Jay got a ginger chicken. Then we called it a night.