Tuesday 18 October – Miandrivazo to Morondova
This posting replaces the earlier ‘filler’ message
Soon after leaving the hotel, Christophe spotted a cloud of fluffy seed, not unlike a dandelion in a light breeze. The source here were the seed horns characteristic of the Family Apocynaceae. These belonged to a Pachypodium growing on the edge of a garden, P. rutenbergianum.
We were not too fussy about where the plant grew, any Pachypodium image at this stage was fine by us, so cameras clicked.
Distances are great in Madagascar, with an area of 587,041 km2 (226,597 sq mi) it is the 46th largest country in the world – the UK with an area of 243,600 km² (94,060 sq miles) ranks 78th in the world. So again, the sun was low in the sky as we drove in and out of Morondovia and headed to the famous Avenue of the Baobabs.
Christophe explained that although the landscape here of these giants standing in open fields may be ideal for a tourist attraction, with lots of small stalls selling a rather limited range of souvenirs, mainly woodcarvings of a famous individual tree entitled The Lovers (Les Amoureux) which actually grows some 7 km away from the Avenue that we’ll see later.
The natural habitat for these baobabs is the low dry forest, similar to the Caatinga of north east Brazil. The Malagasy custom, due to a rapidly increasing population that demands food, is to slash and burn the forest and use it for agricultural development. Dense clouds of smoke from often unattended burning fields and the blackened fields that are left behind are common sights in Madagascar.
Avenue de Baobabs
As we walked around taking way too many images of the 20 to 25 trees in the Avenue, I saw a little gathering of tourists and local kids. The children were charging the tourists 5,000 ariary to take pictures of ‘their’ Chameleon. But there were too many people cluttering the image. Other people were gathering to take the classic sunset image and a small herd of goats was let lose to create a rural scene to enhance our pictures. The kids with the chameleon were distracted and Christophe took pictures as I lifted the chameleon by its tail and moved it to a better position with the baobabs providing the back drop. The chameleon had different ideas and kept moving to a less favourable position. I took a few shots and then the kids came back, wanting money. ‘You snooze, you lose’ was my contribution to their education.