From Antananarivo to Andisibe
We were on our way to Andisibe. Our driver, and Malala our guide, had met us after breakfast. Turning out onto what had been a virtually deserted road just the night before we found that the morning rush hour had brought about a very different situation. No need to worry though, as after about 100 yards our driver, escaping the traffic, turned down what looked to be a dead end. Of course it wasn't and we weaved our way down alleyways and across pathways, round the back of small houses and before long we emerged onto a road flanked by flooded paddy fields. People were working up to their knees, and oxen were pulling ploughs, and yet we were within a mile or two of the centre of Antananarivo, the capital of Madagascar.
This road was now much clearer of traffic and for a while we made good progress as the paddy fields passed us by on either side. Our driver wasn't finished with his local knowledge however and soon, as the paddy fields ran out and we came to a more built up area, he plunged down another narrow passage and then up a hill, all the time crowded on either side by small shops selling fruit and vegetables which we could almost reach from inside our car. The streets were thronged now with locals going about their daily business. Very few Madagascans look very African because mostly they're not. The books say Polynesian, our guide said from Malaysia and most people we spoke to offered something different again. Intermarriage has made it tricky to be sure. Malala said most people thought she looked Mexican and so she did but I think she said it to tease us. Butchers’ shops were much in evidence and we passed within feet of hanging carcasses and entrails. A local favourite is zebu, oxen-like beasts with large horns. We found it on most menus but to be honest, although perfectly palatable, it can't compete with an Aberdeen Angus. Then again how many Aberdeen Angus can pull a cart?