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_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Marcy home Walvis Bay Angling Club club AFASyn Ushuaia Marcy and crew

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Life in Hell…ville, Madagascar

Hell road Madagascar

Actually, life in Hellville, our port of entry for Madagascar, was quite pleasant for Marcy. After clearing in, anyway. As usual for countries in the Indian Ocean, formalities took a full day and much signing of crew lists, stamping forms with our boat stamp and much walking around town and waiting for offices to open for the morning or after lunch or who knows why.

clearing in Hellville

We always follow all rules and regulations in every country, especially Madagascar. We wouldn’t want to end up in court. The courthouse shows architectural evidence of the French colonial days. We heard that the workings of government have been influenced more recently by China.

courthouse Hellville

The post office is a charming building that could have been transplanted from rural France.

Ginge PO

Women of Nosy Be (the island where Hellville is located) make intricate cut and embroidered tablecloths. Every day when we walked to town from the port, we passed a shady lane where they exhibit their wares.

tablecloth row Hellville

We went to the bank to get some local currency, the ariary.

Ginge bank Hellville

Peter was pleased to see sailing boats on the money. This is the most water oriented country we’ve visited yet.

Madagasikara money

As always, we needed to replenish the food lockers on Marcy. We started with the downtown stores and Peter got a treat – steaks were available at rock bottom prices.

steak Hellville

Rum is cheaper than beer if you bring your own bottle to be filled.

rum Madagascar

We were glad for exercise and walked everywhere.

pedestrian Ginge Hellville

But of course since our walking muscles were out of shape from the weeks on board, we tired easily. Lucky for us, there is a nice French-ish café in town.

Peter's cafe

Refreshed, we set out to shop at the open air market. As we approached, we saw masses of people shopping at tightly packed stalls. Sailing dhows lay in the tidal mud in the bay behind. We took a deep breath and plunged in.

market and dhows Hellville

Ginger found vanilla beans, vegetables and crab and bought what we needed for just pennies, or Ariary as the money is known here. The crab is sold at a discount at market as the claws have already been sold to restaurants. The press of people, noises and smells overwhelmed us.

mud crab stall Hellville

crab lady Hellville

We wandered past the market to the bay behind, where all sorts of sailing craft lay in the mud. All of the produce for the market arrives by sail. The heavier items are moved from the boats up to the market by oxcart.

resting ox and cargo canoes

Some of the crews were napping as they waited for the tide to return.

cargo canoes at market Hellville

It was interesting to see how much work is done by hand in Madagascar. Front yards are mowed by hand. Not with a hand mower, but by swinging a scythe.

hand mow Hellville

The stone used in construction is hand quarried.

Ginge and rock

The city garbage truck is a tractor and trailer, literally. Garbage cans are not used, one merely piles what is not needed at the curb.

garbage tractor Hellville

Some of the dhows were under repair, not a power tool in sight.

repair dhow Hellville

There are few cars, and many of those are quite old.

old car Hellville

Returning to the quay, we agreed that Hellville was a very pleasant town for a pedestrian. Very quiet, very little traffic, and beautiful old architecture is everywhere.

alley Hellville

The people are quiet and friendly and many of the women are beautiful. Face painting is common, and seemed quite attractive to us once we got used to it.

pretty faces Hellville

Heading back to the boat, we passed dogs that looked as tired as we felt. No northerners visiting tropical latitudes should be out in the sun in at midday.

tropic dogz Hellville

Back on board Ginger somehow found the energy to cook up our crabs and served a Madagascar lunch: mud crab (not bad) rum (delicious) and French bread (rounding out the major food groups.)

Madagascar lunch

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