A Photographic Journey
Over New Year’s we went to Antananarivo for some cooler temps, some fellowship with other English speakers, some play, some work, and alas, some shopping.. though shopping for stuff like Oatmeal and Sundried Tomatoes is not necessarily what I consider exhilarating shopping.
The beauty of this rugged landscape that is Madagascar never ceases to amaze me. Every time we make this 10-hour drive, I stand in awe of God’s awesome creation of this Red Island and the reality that we have the privilege to live here!! I know people who would choose other not-so-pleasant words to describe living here… and on some days, we would agree… but by and large, we are blessed!
So on the looonnnnngggg drive home, I decided to keep the camera in the front seat and capture a photographic journey across Madagascar from the central highland plateau that is Antananarivo to the northwest coast that is our city of Mahajanga.
Sit back and enjoy… and just like in Madagascar- if you’re not the driver… no seat belts required.
the high plateau is full of terraced rice fields
the people of Madagascar are as rugged as the beauty of this place… check out this old man riding up the mountain roads… no gears, just pure strength and endurance
just a reminder, this is the ONLY national highway connecting to the northwest part of the island… it’s shared with bikers, oxcarts with wooden wheels, and the occasional faithful dog
about 30+ kilometers into our trip… only 521 kilometers to go
it’s been reported that the Malagasy people eat the most rice per person per day in the world…
the houses are a reflection of the landscape… built with the materials that are most accessible in each part of the island…. in this case, mud walls and mud bricks with grass roofs. two story houses are more common on the high plateau than on the coast.
how can i not stand in awe of God’s creation??? A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!!!
bread and tea stand on the side of the road as we’re entering a small town…
these tsangan-bato dot the landscape of Madagascar and stand in place to remember some important event that occurred in that spot… my enquiring mind would love to know the story behind these… too bad I’ll probably never know. how fun would it be to travel around the island, collecting these oral history narratives and composing a book?!! oh, if only there was more time in the day and years in my life. *sigh*
talk about a house with a view and quite literally… not a single other house as far as the eye could see.
did i mention this was the ONLY national highway??? check out how narrow these roads are!
just a little “S” curve…
unfortunately we see far too many lone trees in areas that should be forested….
the name of this approaching village, Andalamahitsy…or “straight road”
not such a straight road ahead…
this family though totally startled at first when a crazy vazaha (foreign) woman speaking Malagasy scrambled out of the practically still moving car, ended up being very gracious in allowing me to capture them on their daily trek…. barefoot on hot asphalt in the heat of the day up mountain roads…
wish i could bottle up the sights, sounds and smells of this moment…. middle of nowhere in Madagascar, speaking to these folks in their mother tongue, the smell of earth and smoke on their clothing and a proud papa having his picture taken with his kids…
these folks are strong…
check out that erosion due to deforestation… the forests are essential for keeping the soil intact…
quite the ride I reckon…
the harvested rice laid out on the hot asphalt to dry… it’s also the reason we find small rocks in our rice…. the bags are full of unhusked rice to sell to passersby
amazing the contrast of the new green grass brought out by recent rains and the deep red soil…
severe crazy erosion is a typical backdrop…. as are people selling the local fruits… in this case, it’s mangoes.
rain in the distance… the rain comes so fast and furious that you can often hear it coming before even a drop falls at your feet
“fasina” or tombs such as this are also scattered against the landscape
the plateau gives way to the foothills which signals the start of mango country… yummmmm!
houses are often used for advertising purposes, this particular house is enticing folks to buy a “black soap”– something that is reportedly good for prickly heat rash. we use it but the jury is still out on it’s effectiveness.
and of course there’s the view of the inside of the car…. the sleeping kids
the faithful chauffeur
lunch break!!! a small malagasy restaurant is called a “hotely”— this one serves up some pretty descent food but plan on having your mouth coated with grease by the end. another example of a building with painted advertisements… this one for THB- Three Horse Beer.
recently folks have been panning for (and finding) gold in the rivers of this region… have i told you how incredibly rich this totally impoverished country is in natural resources???? once again, we stopped driving to get a picture of this lady and man walking on the road returning from panning. they were incredibly fearful as we approached them and later told us they thought we were “tongue snatchers”…. um, OK.
after talking a bit more they showed us the gold they had panned that day…. because apparently there’s less of a likelihood that we would be gold thieves than tongue snatchers 🙂
in these region there’s tons of bridges, some huge, some small, most a bit scary due to their condition… you’ll soon see what I’m talking about…
crossing the massive Betsiboka River… this ginormous water system can be seen from space and is a prime example of how Madagascar is literally bleeding it’s red soil into the ocean as a result of deforestation and subsequent erosion. this bleeding into the ocean around our city of Mahajanga can also be seen from space
did i mention it rains really hard????
more ladies coming back from a day of gold mining… no tongue snatching occurred
a typical small roadside village with 1-room mud houses and palm-leaf roofs
remember those nasty scary bridges i was talking about… here’s just part of the reason why
off the plateau and out of the foothills, the landscape becomes quite barren and not nearly as spectacular to photograph…
roadside stands in this region sell tamarinds, dried fish and lasary- types of fruits (green mango or lime) bathed in vinegar and sometimes chili that’s served with rice and the daily sauce or laoka
while on the road there’s several check-points… by the police, the gendarme, and the army- it’s a bit of a nuisance but usually harmless– wanting to check our papers, our insurance, the occasional bribe-seeking and of course making sure there’s no tongue snatchers in the car…
this guy was so stoked that we asked to take his picture not only did he not ask for our papers, but he happily and proudly posed for the picture and let us be on our way… we may need to employ this strategy at all future checkpoints!
unfortunately this is an all-too-common sight… charcoal by the gunny sack. I can’t even begin to estimate how many trees were cut down to make this much charcoal… I can say with certainty that it was alot!!
this is just at the edge of the Ankarafantsika National Forest…. you can see the land clear cut to plant maize
this is inside the National Park of Ankarafantsika… the folks who live here really reap the benefits with cooler temps, more rain, better soil quality, more animals, and beauty… all because there are trees!
Anakarafantsika National Park… and remember, this is the national highway!
this house made of raffia stock with a windmill palm roof could definitely use a little bit of help…
Ankarafantsika National Park
Ankarafantsika National Park
still in Ankarafantsika. crazy to think that a large portion of this region should look like this…. lush hills with lemurs, large crocodile infested lakes teeming with bird life… the sounds and sights in this forest are amazing
no joke– this barren land is less than 1-minute outside of the splendor of Ankarafantsika National Park. so.so.so.sad
just a little luggage atop this bush taxi…
the beauty of the flame tree amidst rice fields and oxcarts….
across the island the national highway is an extremely popular place to sit and have a conversation… i’m speechless on this one
the land where dinosaurs once roamed…. dinosaur bones can be found all over this region… we’re planning a dinosaur-bone-hunting trip with the kids on a Saturday in the weeks to come
no trip is complete anywhere without Jamie stopping and collecting either seeds or digging up plants…
no complaining here with this wild beautiful purple ground orchid
and of course, there’s always multiple cars, buses, trucks, bike riders and oxcarts that we pass along the way….
alas… our city is close!!
after adding an extra 90 minutes to our normal 10-hour trip… our butts were flat, our bladders full, our kids were total troopers, and we were so happy to see our beloved dirt road leading up to our house!!
Next time, you gotta come make the journey yourself!!! Seatbelt required.