Antaimoro Paper

The roads in Madagascar are in a very poor state.
There are about 40.000 km of road,
of which only 5.000 km is tarred.
And most of this is often little more than a series of potholes
held together by strips of tar. The rest of the country's
roads are made of mud, sand, rocks and air.
During the rainy season most unsealed roads
are inaccessible.
Normaly we use a rented car on our tour
but the price is quite high
and the car always comes with a driver,

because a tourist, who is not accustomed to the roads,
will usually have an accident or break the car.
Very sensible.

On the last tour our driver was Charles, a cheerful Malgash.
But, after experiencing his driving, I wouldn't dream
of driving in Madagascar myself.
He navigates these roads full of potholes (and pretty narrow)
with such speed! He seems to know the location and
depth of all the potholes in the country
and drives from hole to hole faultlessly.
For some reason, when there is no other car coming,
he just drives in the middle of the road.
When he sees a car approaching he dodges to the right side
at the very last possible moment. (The French way?)
He uses special hooting signals
(Madagascar's own?) to exchange information with other cars.
For example, when approaching a corner, this is the
signal to check if there is a car coming : HOOT- hoot, hoot, hoot!
If there is no answer from other side
it is safe to pass.

In the town of Anbalavao, in central Madagascar,
there is the famous Antaimoro paper factory.
It is small but very popular with the tourists
because you can actually see the paper making process here.
Antaimoro is handmade paper made from a bush called havoha.
The industry started in the 8th century.
This paper is special, because each sheet is decorated
by hand with fresh flowers and leaves to beautiful designs,
each different according to the manufacturers taste.
This pretty paper is left in the sun to dry and is crafted into
beautiful notebooks, albums, lettersets and lampshades.
Of course, at the end of the tour, you are expected
to do some shopping at the paper shop..
I bought a letterset. It wasn't cheap,
but each letter was different in design and so pretty!
I have to decide who I am going to write to
on this precious paper .

Join our tour to Namibia in May!
Click here to find out the details!
We plan to get really close to animals and nature!

(See last weeks story and others here.)

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