October 15, 2016
After a good night’s sleep the world looked wonderful! The sun was shining and we were torn between the breakfast that Nadia had prepared and the plants out on parade in the garden.
Breakfast won, but was followed by the garden tour – there were even cacti bought in France and legally imported into Madagascar. Copiapoa humilis and some Ferocactus that had suffered a brief spell of scorch. It only takes a few minutes to do the damage that will stay with the plant for a very long time. Christophe pointed out our first Chameleon – much nicer to photograph than lizards as they move nice and slowly.
It did not take long to pack the car and be on our way. The first hour or so was through the sprawling suburbs of Antananarivo, rather like an ant’s nest with pedestrians visiting the local markets and food shops – very colourful. and chaotic. We then hit RN7, the main road out of the capital. It reminded me a bit of MEX 1 in Baja, but with rice paddies along the road. Lots of small settlements. Then we arrived at our first plant location at Site Ecoturistique Iharanandriana. We needed to pay a small fee to the local community, strapped on the cameras and off we went. The height of the hill was not too intimidating but the steepness of the eroded track was. Not used to such a burst of exercise, I was soon out of breath and my thighs ached in protest.
John and Christophe waited patiently for me but it soon became clear that the best solution was for me to sit this one out.
I missed out on an Aloe and two Kalanchoe, but the site is well documented on the internet, so I did not miss too much.
The next stop was for lunch at Restaurant Au Coin de Foeie Gras where we had portions of the pate after which the restaurant was named, washed down with a very sweet white wine.
Back on the road and the skies turned black for a good old rainstorm. More of a surprise was when the rain turned to hail and briefly provided a photo opportunity for some very different and unexpected weather conditions!
The high temperatures ensured that soon the ice had melted and we continued safely to our hotel where, as for the rest of the trip, John and I each had a private suite with mosquito nets provided where necessary.