Visit the ROVA or Queen's...
Visit the ROVA or Queen's Palace... or rather, what is left of it. Once a major tourist site in Tana, it was almost entirely destroyed by a fire in November of 1995. The view of the city from the hill where the Rova stood is still worth seeing, however...
Once, Telma (ex-PTT, national telecom company) used to have the monopoly over communication in Madagascar. It only served the fix phone communication, no mobile. Then, giving phone calls to clients, friends, suppliers could be very difficult due to chronical technical problems. You could spend a whole morning trying to talk to your client, in vain. You may have lost a client, a deal… whatever... PTT had the monopoly. Then, came mobile operators: Madacom (now Celtel), (late) Telecel, Antaris (now Orange)...etc... quite expensive, in its early Malagasy years, but every man-in-the-street had tried to have his own mobile. Nowadays, the more mobile operators, the more affordable communication.
In case you cannot afford a mobile but want to give a phone call to a friend, taxiphones are solutions to your problem. With an average of 300 ariary per min (depending on whether you’re calling a mobile or a fix). Taxiphones are in every streetcorner. Whilst, in the past, one had to find a shop that could "lend" its telephone and that one'd pay for a random value, taxiphones are nowadays a solution. With the advantage of accessibility, cheaper and almost harmonized tariffs.
That's Madagascar: resourcefulness. A job for taxiphone tenders which serve as last resort for some who are in need. I think, though, that they wouldn't allow you to make internatonal calls ;-) For that, hotels are still there.. but.. whether they are the least expensive, whether there are alternatives to hotels, I'll have to investigate.
Hira Gasy: oratorial, dance, musical contests
Hira Gasy is Merina folk music. It's an expression means in a form of musical theater.
Hira gasy was introduced by King Andrianampoinimerina, late XVIII century. After succeeding in gathering all Imerina region kingdoms, thus, building the only Merina kingdom, King Andrianampoinimerina tackled challenges so as to nourish the whole population. Tools were given to peasants, markets were settled, he had dykes built so as to fit out Betsimitatatra ricefields plains for instance.
Thousands of peasants worked there. In order to encourage them and convey royal guidelines, Andrianampoinimerina sent his best Mpikabary (orators), singers and dancers on building sites, roadworks and ricefields. As works lasted, turns were arranged so as to allow villages to send their bands. Those bands went into rivalries and thus, Hira Gasy acquired quality and originality from this frenzy competition.
To see further details on rules of Hira gasy, have a look at my below Tlogue "Hira gasy", in my Antananarivo page.
In general, the show may last the whole day (from morning to late night). It serves as a means to arouse society's awareness on given concerns or to give life to sacred ceremonies ("Famadihana" or reburial; circumcision).
Nowadays, Hira gasy shows may be seen in streets of urban Tana. In the past, they used to perform in Avenue de l'Indépendance area and it seems that they still perform there. Avenue de l'indépendance is the main avenue in urban Tana, the very one in front of main train station.
Address: Streets of urban Tana + Countryside
In Summer (Dec-March)
Raincoat or sthg lighter with water-repellent material (windbreaker). Linen & cotton gear. I don't recommend sandals if you're walking. Rain and walking in the city are not always comfy neither clean. Loafers are OK, walking shoes: not necessary if only for urban Tana. For Tana specifically, you'd find everything in pharmacies there.. but bring your medical prescriptions and your usual stacks if you're on some treatment. Would I remind you of anti-malarial treatment and hepathitis meningitis vaccinations ? Sthg with a good telelens for the city being on many levels, it allows (and requires !) some more sophisticated cameras.. well, if photography is your stuff. Also, notice the brighter light in summer, sometimes humid but less than on coastal cities. No beach urban Tana. ;-) Patience... be it being stuck in a traffic jam or going (sometimes) through some red tape.
Take time to visit countryside II
In dry seasons (May- September), you will see several smoking ovens for clay- brick baking.
By clicking on this picture, you would see, by far, one of those smoking clay-brick ovens... Smoke odour is particular due to the use of turf as fuel. It takes weeks to bake bricks. This is amongst sceneries I am used to (rather than urban streets sceneries) and I just miss them!
The 1st picture is a view from my bedroom in the house used to live in when I looked Westward (towards urban Tana).
The old house is one of my grand-grand father's houses. I've never seen it inhabited, except by a white threatening hawl... Typical red-brick house in Tana countryside, with 1 or 2 storeys, sometimes 3 storeys like in this one.
2nd picture: a closer look on the brick moulding, drying & baking site
Malaza, the Northern village where I live, has the necessary ingredients to make bricks: space, clay, turf, sand, hay stacks to help setting the fire. It is very common to see people buying bricks in our area for the building of their houses. Each winter in Malaza has its share of lost car drivers flocking in the area, looking for where bricks are made. Later, they'll send pick-ups, trucks to fetch the brics & tiles.