I love sights. And every single place on planet earth (or even other planets, I don’t know yet) has their own unique, traditional, tasty, adventurous, concrete and relaxing SIGHT. Now, to give you a perspective of what one could expect – to someone who is a foodie, gourmet would be his/her favourite sight. To someone who is culturally inquisitive, traditional sights would be his/her holiday. To someone who is an adventure junkie, landscapes would be his adrenaline. You get the drift. So, imagine a place that has sights for everyone. Now that 789 is definitely a place you have to visit. A place where sights are at extremes.
The epic nature of landscapes (no pun intended) that captures the essence of unmatched diversity Madagascar is truly astonishing. It is said that within 300kms you can go from rainforest to desert. I honestly didn’t experience the whole length of it, but my next stay there would be the 300km mission. Now, in a place that has a rainforest that is home to 5% of the planets flora and fauna – you would think that canyons would be at a far distance. Apparently not. The land of Madagascar offers you views, you never thought possible. The soil of this land is so rich because of the confusing rainy, dry and cozy climate – its nicknamed the ‘Red Island’. Let this palette settle in your imagination, green, red, blue, turquoise – these are all the colours you can see in Madagascar.
The world has become such a diverse place that nothing is beyond reach (except if you are a dreamer and want to go to the ‘land of dreams’ now – read all about the political stories in the USA now to get that joke). Malagasy are quite similar to Indians in ways that will astound you, but shouldn’t surprise you too much because Madagascar had a wave of immigrants from corners of the Indian Ocean. Here people have their own beliefs when it comes to god and the rituals, and social castes aren’t a legal thing anymore but it’s engraved in tradition & history. When you walk around Antananarivo, you are welcomed like it is your own country (like how your friends’ mothers made you eat in their house irrespective what happens). The city has a cozy climate, markets, shops and crafts that will be the perfect souvenirs. The buildings are from the colonial period and add a texture that makes you curious about the history, tradition and culture.
Food in Madagascar reminds me of food in Kerala. But the cooking here has an international influence – the credit should go to the French. Rice is a major part of their diet, but more than that the meat is necessary in every single meal. I know someone in my family who will go crazy eating beef, pork, lobsters, eels and fish. I was hogging (again, no pun intended) on pork cooked in two ways with two different chillies (green and red) – my grandad would have loved this dish. Even though their food isn’t too spicy they can make it hot just for you. Some specialities you have to try – Ramazava, Ravitoto, Varanga, Smalona and Lasary.
There are places in Madagascar that I am yet to explore, but the fact still remains – exploring one half of Madagascar only forces you to come back and discover the unseen. Because once a sight, always a sight.