Trip Start Jul 13, 2005
Trip End Aug 19, 2005

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Friday, August 12, 2005

We'd heard a lot about 'The F... Place!' as Aina is writing his dissertation on tourism there. Of course, this worked hugely in our favour as Aina knew everything and everyone! It took us all day to get there in our bling mobile, stopping at Parc National de L'Isalo for a scenic picnic with the friendly flies! On our arrival we were met by the owner of The Tsara Guesthouse, a very important figure who has done a fantastic job saving and restoring the traditional tile-roofed buildings in the city. Very worthwhile as they are beautiful! Fianarantsoa is like a baby Tana, very similar but smaller. I immediately warmed to the place. It has a wonderful friendly atmosphere.

The highlight of our stay here was a pirogue trip. A pirogue is a dug out canoe used by Madagascan locals for fishing and transportation (not all that well engineered for Fat Fazhar - they were tiny!!) I have to admit the first few minutes were rather hairy but after I had got used to being just 2 inches off the water surface, it was bliss! It was so relaxing and the scenery was stunning. The route cut through mountains and we floated by snippets of the busy village life by the riverside, waving at the locals. There is no such thing as a simple greeting in Madagascar. A simple 'hello' will not surfice. All kinds of questions can form part of the greeting i.e. 'how was yesterday?''How is your family?' 'How was breakfast the day before yesterday??!!'It was great, as the ongoing grown of malagasy greetings happily drowned out the grumblings of a certain moody little sister sitting behind me!! The trip was 5 hrs long with a stop at cascades for a luxury picnic. My back was beginning to ache by the end and I got incredibly sunburnt. On the way back we visited the tree plantations and got to see a train full of bananas passing along Madagascar's one railway line.

Rebecca and I had an extravagant dinner at Tsara Guesthouse. Rebecca's reward for having survived the day! Then we all went out for an exciting night out on the town. My expectations for Madagascan night life were not high but I was extremely impressed! We had a great time. The DJ fell in love with Rebecca which meant we eventually got our requests for 'Dancing Queen' even if it did mean everyone else in the club left! We staggered back around 3am.
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