Dec 15, 2019: Maroantsetra to Andasibe

We made it to Tana early in the morning and our driver Huby found us. He took us to an ATM then seemed to circle the city finding a great many neighborhood markets. We needed to go east, and the route was perplexing. The Chinese are building a new east-west highway through many existing rice paddies. I did not ask what these urban farmers are doing, now that they are displaced. I’m not sure I want to know. 

The countryside outside of Tana is beautiful. Hills give way to rolling mountains and the greenery is refreshing. The dominant tree is eucalyptus, introduced for its rapid growth and straight limbs. Eucalyptus however drinks a lot. This sometimes causes problems. The other advantage of eucalyptus is that the wood is fairly dense and makes good charcoal. This is the prime fuel for cooking fires, so it works out. 

For lunch, we stopped for Chinese food in a town. There are a lot of Chinese restaurants; I don’t think many have Chinese owners or operators. Nonetheless, the food was good and met our dietary restrictions. 

We spent the night in a lodge beside the smallest of the national parks in the Andasibe region. The restaurant was on stilts over a stream valley. It was close enough to the park to hear the call of the Indri. These are the largest lemurs and their call sounds someone is blowing on a blade of grass held tight between their thumbs — the sound we heard on YouTube videos before we left home. 

We seemed to be the only people thrilled by this sound. Everyone else just kept talking. 

This area is visited by a great many people. It’s proximity to the capital and the variety of species make it popular. Our lodge had four rows of bungalows ranging up a hillside. Even though it’s low season, there were many many visitors. Later, we learned that many pictures in a textbook on lemurs were taken in the Andasibe area, and some at the Hotel Feon’ny Ala.

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The national road, eastbound from Tana towards Andasibe. You can almost make out a pothole behind the bush.

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Typical farmland. Rice is a prominent crop.