Places of Madagascar

Many contrasts. It's not called 'The Island Continent' for nothing.

The Southwest

The port-town of Tuléar (also spelt Toliara, and pronounced To-le-ar) is an embarkation point for the outer coral reefs and the fishing villages to the north and south. The already relaxed pace of life slows into tune with the rhythms of the ocean and the winds. Each morning the men of the villages head out to sea in their pirogues, returning when the wind comes up or when the catch is made.

Sarodrano fishing village close up

Around Anakao (pronounced Ana-cow) the reefs form a semi-permeable barrier, allowing some swells through but giving enough protection for the growth of extensive sea grass beds among sand and coral shallows. The seas here are fished intensively. Lines, nets and spears are all employed. Nothing appears to be thrown back, irrespective of size or condition. Spawning lobsters laden with eggs can appear on the menu. There seems to be no thought of where next year's harvest may come from, or the harvest after that.

South of Anakao

Meanwhile, at the various restaurants and hotels along the long beach of Anakao, tourists enthusiastically partake of the ever diminishing banquet served by the tiring sea.

Further south the reefs come closer to the coast and the beaches are more directly exposed to the ocean waves. The numbers of tourists fall. Life is harder and the experience more authentic.

Traditional burial tomb near Lake Tsimanampetsotsa

Traditional beliefs and practices take on added significance. Burial tombs become a regular feature, often appearing unexpectedly in plots carved from the spiny forest. Always topped with zebu horns pointing to the east, the tombs are single burial chambers decorated to display the rank and wealth of their single occupant.

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