Sunday, May 27, 2012

Typical Malagasy Meals

I just came back from a field trip visiting public and private toilets! Very very interesting, and amazing to see how people with little means manage to create a proper living environment for themselves and their families. But more on that later.

A Dutch friend of mine recently asked me what people are eating in Madagascar. And I replied with listing the delicacies we can find here: cripsy bread, petits pains au chocolat, canard a l'orange, beef carpacio, pâtés etc. But that is not what she meant - she wanted to know what the average Malagasy have breakfast or lunch.

So here we go...the people eat rice, with rice, and rice and rice. And some other things:

1. Typical Malagasy breakfast
Donuts, Rice cakes (Mofo Gasy) and Tea 
2. Typical Malagasy Lunch
Red rice, broth with green leaves, and fish or zebu (if affordable)
The quantities of rice per person never cease to amaze me

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Three Worlds in One Country (at least)

Madagascar has at least twenty national parks, and many more protected areas. Having visited some in the past, I was thinking that I had probably seen the biggest share of them. I could not have been more wrong! Each park is so totally different that it's hard to imagine they're all in one and the same country.

Andohahela park
Take Andohahela in the extreme south eastern part of the country. A-ma-zing place! It is literally in between two worlds. World one is the lush, tropical and humid forest, world two the dry deserty land with thorny bush and spikey trees. The park itself is a unique transitional forest in between the two.

We went last weekend and I could hardly believe my eyes. But the camera does not lie. I am now sure there are even four, five, six or more worlds in Madagascar.

You can clearly see the boarder between wet and dry 

A golden tree nexr to a silver one

For more info see

Wednesday, May 9, 2012


I honestly did not know it existed... but it does. An endurance race of no less than 60 or even 120 km! Yes, that's right, between sixty and one hundred and twenty kilometers of running. And not flat running, mind you.  Up hill, down hill, through rice paddy fields, on rocky bush paths and down slippery sand roads. Some people actually do this! And complete it! And guess of them was my guy!

Ultra Trail
Arrival at checkpost 2 @ 13:45 (42 km)
I was helping to organize UTOP Madagascar last week. UTOP stands for Ultra Trail des O'Plateaux, a trail from Antananarivo to Mantasoa. The full trail, which had 75 runners started at midnight on Friday to Mantasoa and then back to Tana. The semi trail with over 250 people began on Saturday morning at 6 AM. The first arrival made it in six hours! Michel has been training for this with his 'coach' our neighbor Krishna. He finished in just under twelve hours! So cool.

Solid and liquid fuel
As a matter of fact, these ultra running trails are being organized all over the world. It just seems one of these things you don't know about until...well, you do.
Personally I did not run. I managed a check post. Important job, make sure runners are monitored and have enough solid and liquid fuel. When I volunteered I had no idea it meant sitting in a cold and rainy middle of nowhere for 36-hours non-stop but hey...I never shy a challenge. Just don't ask me to run for twelve hours.

With the Madagacar Hash House Harriers we managed checkpost number two and we all had a top time.  This year, the UTOP organizers had put ambitious systems in place. There were laptops with special software to note runners' times, generators to light up the checkposts and G3-internet connections. That was probably Utopian. I can't help notice the UTOPia analogy.  Utopia: (wikipidea) an ideal community or society possesing perfect systems ... In reality the systems were not perfect; generators broke down, laptops would not start and G3-connections got lost. But it did not matter, more than 300 runners from 12 nationalities had a great time - and we were there!

Checkpost 2 Saturday morning 1:55, First 120-km runners arrive

Checkpost 2 at 2 PM. A sip of SKOL: why not??

Checkpost 2 Saturday 4 PM. Relying on good fashion pen and paper

The last 120km-runners leaving checkpost 2 at 6:05 Sunday morning