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Jean Baptiste joined us for breakfast and to wish us a safe journey back to the capital.

It was still a 390 km journey over Route 35 and RN7. All smooth asphalt? I enquired. Christophe smiled. ‘I wish!’ was his reply. I knew from experience that it is often easier to navigate a reasonable dirt track than to zigzag along a poorly maintained hard top road trying to avoid the pot holes.

We made it to Ambositra where we were able to buy some souvenirs, easier now that we had a much clearer idea of how much money we had to spare – no point taking Malagasy currency home, except samples of each of the notes to make a display in a picture frame to hang in the ‘Madagascar Room’ at home in Wiltshire. The town is well-known for a street full of artisan shops, including wooden sculptures and very attractive marquetry. We made our purchases and found a small restaurant for lunch and a beer. I immediately fell in love with a framed piece of marquetry hanging above the door: a row of Zebu heads. Where can I buy one? The owner did not know. Is this one for sale? No, sorry, it was a present from a friend. Nadia had already had lunch while John and I were shopping and went out again. She had been up and down the souvenir stalls and had tracked down a somewhat smaller framed piece of marquetry in a stall a few hundred meters away. We agreed the price and I was a happy bunny, especially as I also found a small tray, again beautifully decorated with different inlaid woods and had negotiated a good combined price for the two items.

We had to move on to get to Tana at a reasonable time, but Christophe found time for one more stop for plants in habitat, on a hill near the road, surrounded by a small village and rice paddies.  The Aloe is Aloe manandonae

Aloe manandonae

Aloe manandonae

We stopped for the last time, but not for plants, at the Boulangerie – Patisserie Mirana in Antsiribe where we had enjoyed snacks and breakfast during our stay in the town at the start of our trip, nearly four weeks ago.

We arrived at Nadia & Christophe’s home in the dark and soon afterwards, following the now famous Pastis & Sprite as a nightcap. It was good to be ‘home’ – even though we still had some 48 hours to go before reaching our homes in the UK

It was a great trip, thanks to Christophe & Nadia who took great care of us and were very patient to travel at my speed. Thanks also to John for being a great travel companion, as on previous trips.

As I finish off this missive, the postman has just dropped a memory stick with John’s imagesthrough the letter box – thanks John, that will keep me busy now that the blog is complete for this trip!

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