Arriving in Madagascar
As we descended into Ivato Airport a deforested landscape with a patchwork of rice fields came into view, spotted with small towns and eventually, the colourful capital of Antananavario (Tana). I was greeted at the airport by my guide with smiles and a warm welcome. "Salama" he said as I was reminded of the similarity to "salamat" and "shalom". After picking up my luggage and exchanging USD for ariary, we set out en route to my hotel (the Pavillion De L'Emyrne), a short distance but nearly a full hour’s drive away. There was heavy "rush hour traffic" which I am told lasts all day!
Much of the drive is scenic with the road paralleling a river, alive with activity.
There were people fishing, women doing laundry and the grassy area between the river and the road is covered with colourful clothing set out to dry. The nearby rice fields (irrigated from the river) are spotted with a few long horned zebu in each plot, breaking up the clods of earth. We pass local markets and stalls along the way and finally arrive in the tiered capital with long narrow winding streets, steep hills and bougainvillea if full bloom.
Pavillion De L' Emyrne: Lovely architecture, friendly and helpful staff. I am shown to Rm 14 which is a very large room with an adjoining private veranda. There are plenty of outlets to charge my batteries and the room is clean, tastefully decorated and spacious. On the down side, the veranda backs on to a noisy street below and because it is open air, mosquitoes were a problem at night. The other hotel rooms have the same charm, albeit are smaller, quieter and have no access for mosquitoes.
There is a recently opened restaurant which is delightful and well managed. The meals I had were French cuisine with a nice Malagasy twist to them - lovely! The local teas were delicious. The restaurant manager is most gracious in sharing her recipes. I was able to get several recipes of my favourite dishes they prepared. It is safe to explore the town on foot or by taxi (beige vehicles); show the usual precautions and don't wander out alone at night.