Certain things in countries tend to surprise the first-time visitor. I would like to share some facts I found most interesting or surprising during our journey.

1. Rice

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I don’t think I have seen as many rice terraces as in Madagascar in any country I have been to. I always thought countries in Asia were the biggest producers and consumers of rice. Apparently 150 to 200g of rice per person are eaten during a Madagascan meal. That amount would do for a family of four in Germany. It is said that the daily rice consumption of a grownup is 450g and the yearly total demand of rice in Madagascar is over 3 million tons.

2. Sausages

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Sausages Madagascar

Everybody knows Germans love their Wurst, their sausage. They can be found in various colours and methods of preparation in every corner of Germany. But who would have thought the Madagascans are so fond of their sausage, their Saosisy. It’s a Bratwurst, as we Germans would call it, made of pork that can be seen all over the country hanging from stalls, waiting to be sold and cooked together with broad white beans to make an awful looking, but lovely tasting meal.

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3. Laundry

Laundry Madagascar

In Madagascar nobody washes clothes in a washing machine….I mean NOBODY! Even when you give your laundry to the staff in an upmarket hotel, they will do it by hand, laying the clean clothes out somewhere to dry afterwards. So, wherever you travel, all over Madagascar you see colorful clothes laying in the countryside to dry.

4. Taxis and gas

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Whenever you get into one of the old, beat up french taxis in Madagascar, the first stop your taxi driver will make is at a gas station. This is something unthinkable in Germany, where time is money and a taxi driver would never take the liberty to fill up his car on your precious time. Here on the other hand time is not so pressing (“Mora, mora” is something one is told here over and over again, meaning something like “slow, slow…no hurry”) and more importantly gas is so expensive and the people so poor, that there are in fact only a few drops of gas in the car when a taxi driver has no passengers and only when he has a new passenger will he fill up his tank…with about one liter…before taking you to your destination.

5. Election

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I’m not an expert in politics and the political system in Madagascar and the turbulences around it are too complex for me to even try to grasp. Nevertheless there are some weird facts worth sharing: The  presidential election in Madagascar took place on October 25th. That as such is not noteworthy. But up until the election actually took place it was not certain it really would. After all, since 2009 it had been postponed five times. There were 33 (!) candidates and naturally there was no clear outcome. So, there will be a second ballot end of December, before Christmas. The weeks before the election where quite interesting also. Election posters were stuck ALL over and in every possible place. Trucks pumping loud music out of humongous loudspeakers cruised the towns and smallest villages.

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T-shirts with the candidates picture and name were handed out from helpers on the trucks. And as many people don’t own more than the one t-shirt they are wearing, the presents were gladly accepted and used.

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It’s hard for me to imagine myself walking down the street donning a t-shirt with a picture of Angela Merkel on it…

6. The ants and the snake

There is a certain kind of ant species here that cohabit with a snake in a hole in the earth. The ants go and find yummy food for the snake and feed it. And the snake accepts the generous gift and gets fatter and fatter. Doesn’t the snake know that nothing in life is for free?! In the end, the snake is too fat to get out of the hole, which is in fact a trap and it suffocates in it. The ants now have a feast eating the snake they fattened. Nature is cruel!

7. Cars and their plates

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Many cars and trucks that are driven here have been imported from Europe when they were no longer allowed on European roads. That fact alone is not surprising. What I found weird was that the Madagascans just keep the license plate the way it is. On account of that you see tons of cars driving around with French or Belgian licence plates here.

8. Pastries

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Madagascans are still so deeply influenced by the French, that you see baguettes, which they just call bread, here everywhere and in masses. Also croissants and other french pastries are things widely available and very common. Unfortunately that also means the breakfast that is served here (if you don’t take the traditional madagascan breakfast) is the french kind with only baguette, butter and marmalade…what about us hearty breakfast eaters??

9. Responsible tourism

It is common knowledge that countries like Thailand are highly frequented for sextourism purposes. But who would have thought Madagascar to be one of those countries. All over the country you see big, fat French men walking side by side with young, often nice looking Madagascan girls. A sight just as disgusting as the one in Thailand…

10. Hotely

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Nothing major, but an interesting fact: Small, very simple local restaurants are called hotely…and you definately can not sleep there!

11. Almost Hollywood

Hollywood sign Antananarivo

Just like Hollywood, Antananarivo has a sign with its name towering above the city in the hills. It does give the rough city a glamourous edge. 😉

 

2 Comments

 

  1. 15/11/2013  20:38 by R Reply

    haha - love the Tanawood sign!

  2. 15/11/2013  22:27 by Jay Pee Reply

    This blog is always good for a chuckle. You are missed terribly here, but I am always looking forward to another exciting episode. Cool!!!!

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