Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Anja Community Reserve

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We didn't see Ring-tailed lemurs until we reached Anja Reserve, in southern Madagascar.  Well, we saw them in the Singapore zoo; they are one of the few lemurs that thrives in captivity, and the most common lemur found in zoos.  Anja is located at the base of this massive rock formation.  We spent a few hours there in the afternoon, after visiting Sidexam Tea’s factory, and before we reached our last destination, Isalo.

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Friday, April 18, 2014

Madagascar Tea

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Throughout our travels, we were never at ease with what we called the ‘show and sell’ program.  This was nominally a visit to see a local craft or art; however, it quickly turned into a sales pitch for those same wares.  It was never something we sought out; however, there were times when a guided tour was the most effective way to see something, and often a show and sell was part of the tour itinerary.  It was easier when we were part of a group, as we didn’t feel pressure—someone else in the group always bought something.  In Madagascar, we talked our guides out of most of the very few that were on our itinerary—they were generally on travel days between places, to fill time.  However, when Dorique asked us if we wanted to see the tea factory, we said ‘yes!’
We were guided through the Sidexam Tea factory by a pleasant woman; her hand appears above and below, holding finished black tea and freshly shredded tea plant leaves, respectively.

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The factory was fascinating and terrifying at the same time.  There were no safety precautions anywhere.  As we walked in, we ducked under/between the moving hooks running in an overhead track, used to deliver leaf baskets to the conveyor belts.  We were surrounded by machinery that could crush, tear, and curl us just as well as it did the tea leaves, and there was nothing between us and injury but common sense and good balance. 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Ranomafana

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We drove down a long, steep road, past a large waterfall, and then along the deep Namorona river valley leading to the town of Ranomafana.  The valley opened up when we reached the town, and we met our local guide, Rodan.  We set out for a night walk at sunset.  Ranomafana has had increasing difficulty with poaching/harvesting in the park at night, so it is now closed after sunset, but Rodan was confident that we’d see plenty along that same road we’d driven in on.  He was not wrong!

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Monday, April 14, 2014