It’s winter in Madagascar – and therefore cool at night – and even cooler in the highlands where we currently are (I think around 45 degrees F usually). We are staying at the Hotel Artisan at Ambositra and have two wonderful Malagasy style bungalows (one for Simon and I, and one for Jacky), each with lofts and balconies, but no heating. So I’m currently wrapped in a blanket, writing this blog, and it’s only 6pm. I don’t want to think about how cool it will be by the time we get up at 6am! Last night was not warm in the room, but at least we had a small electric heater. Both the last two places have had hot water for the showers, thankfully.
It is however a beautiful hotel, which we arrived at in time for a late lunch, and ate on the terrace watching Malagasy dancers and musicians. The drummer is blind but played well. They put on a wonderful performance.
Yesterday’s hotel (Chambres du Voyageur at Antsirabe) had beautiful gardens and pools, two cute dogs, a dovecote, and several radiated tortoises.
We have visited a mineral and rock polishing workshop, Jean et Freres wood-carving shop (from which Bishop Todd has bought the tall figured crèche and Stations of the Cross for the Cathedral), the Church of a Benedictine Convent and the shop of a silk-spinning & weaving collective. We have also seen some of the lovely paper which is made near here, with flowers pressed into it as it is made. Needless to say, we now have quite a collection of beautiful souvenirs, which will be staying here in Ambositra, at the home of our driver Jocelyn’s parents-in-law, until he makes his return journey next week. There just isn’t space in the car for all of them. He will then take them to his home in Antananarivo, and give them to us on our last 2 days in Madagascar.
Tomorrow is a long drive on windier roads than we’ve already travelled. This is quite daunting as the combination of not enough sleep, time zone confusion and lots of bends, swerves and potholing avoidance, means that those of us on the back seat are both suffering from motion sickness. The oldest male of the party is by Malagasy custom always given the front seat. We may have to break with this tradition tomorrow!