November 14, 2013
11/14/13 - 11/15/13 85 °F
We are heading South today. On the way we stopped in the town of Moramanga to walk around while our driver fixed the flat tire at a local restaurant/grocery/tire store. This little town located between Antananarivo and the East coast was once a cross roads for the slave trade (per our driver) and the name Mora-Manga literally means “Cheap-Mangos” and judging by the fruit stands we would say that this is probably true.
A short drive up the road we arrived at La Mandraka Nature Farm. This place has an incredible variety of wildlife. They have local Coquerel’s Sifaka lemurs that came jumping through the trees when a worker called to them. These animals are wild yet they had no fear of humans, they were just as curious about us as we were about them. We just couldn't get enough of these beautiful gentle creatures and loved hand feeding them bananas. They have the softest paws and just gently hold your hand as they reach for the banana.
The striking colored chameleons (some were Parson's Chameleons) were so gorgeous and we got there just in time to watch them eat insects using their lightning fast tongues! We finally had the chance to test our camera’s 8 frames per second but it wan’t as fast as the 20 milliseconds it takes the chameleon to strike!?! It was insane to see that their tongues were as long as their bodies!
These were some of our faves! You can tell that they are all different colors which is what they use for camouflage! We loved that each of these guys was staring right at us with their eyes that can move independently and turn in all directions! They use these protruding eyes for panoramic sight and can watch an approaching object while simultaneously scanning the rest of the environment. There will be no sneaking up on these guys!
Ruby demonstrated just how small the Pygmy Leaf Chameleon is with a total length of just 28mm!
They also had the cutest Hedgehog Tenrecs, a boa constrictor and other snakes as well as a crazy looking Leaf-Tailed Gecko.
There were some crazy insects and tomato frogs too.
We got on the road and stopped to check out a waterfall and do some roadside shopping! Ruby bought some colorful chameleons handmade out of raffia.
We stopped for lunch south of Tana in Behenjy at a famous restaurant called Coin du Foie Gras known for its foie gras. With all the French influence in Madagascar it makes perfect sense. Funny thing is we don’t eat foie gras so this was wasted on us and all we asked for was the local lunch…chicken, beans and rice LOL. We could have brought some home for our Californian Foodie friends to eat (where it is outlawed) but didn’t want that jar to break on the rest of our trip!
In the next town our driver took a turn down a narrow busy ally and into what looked like a recycling center for aluminum. It was actually an aluminum foundry…barefoot men with wood burning fires pouring molten hot aluminum into sand castings. Needles to say we had to buy a few baobab tree art pieces after we saw what hard labor goes into making them!
Just up the road was another shop, this one making artwork from old aluminum cans and the horns of the zebu (local cow). It’s amazing to see what people do with just the things they have.
We continue south on Route National 7 through the rice fields to the spa town of Antsirabe. When we arrived at Couleur Guest House we were immediately handed the most amazing welcome drink…cool fresh fruit juice with quality rum and a dried vanilla stick for garnish. YUM! We din’t realize that we would be having a romantic candlelight dinner but in Madagascar there is no such thing as reliable power all the time. Take a flashlight with you at night because you never know when you will need it…but we promise you will use it in Madagascar! When we arrived back to our room Tony decided he would start a fire…adding this survival skill to the list that also includes climbing a coconut tree in Jamaica and fetching water from a camel well in the Danakil