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Nov 29, 2011

Madagascar: Antananarivo

After grabbing a few hours of sleep, we got up to see Antananarivo. I don’t know what I was expecting when I got here, but it was surprising. Maybe I thought there’d be a parade of lemurs (there wasn’t) but reality has a way of being more complicated, and interesting, than fantasy. The first thing I noticed was how bad the air is (even worse than the air the last time I was in Beijing). After getting passed that, the main city is an interesting combination of rice paddies and more developed areas. Even in the “developed” areas, though, it’s obvious that the standard of living is very low.

Rice is a huge part of the Malagasy diet, so big, that Madagascar has the highest per capita rice consumption in the world. It’s not just rice, though, as there are little corner shops and markets all over the place:

After getting a feel for the city, we visited the Cinagra chocolate factory. Cinagra does all of the chocolate manufacturing for Madécasse, as well as having product lines for Europe and the local Madagascar market. Shahin Cassam Chenai, the man behind Cinagra, gave us a great tour and it was nice talking chocolate making with him.

We ran into a bunch of traffic on the way back through the city, but it worked out as we could walk along the road and through some more markets while we waited for the car to catch up with us. It was a long and very interesting day but, by the end, I was ready to get out of the city and onto the farm… Fortunately, that was exactly the plan for tomorrow.

If you want to see more pictures of the trip, check out our Facebook page.


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