Ambatoharanana Favorites

  • Cascade ricefields, plains, mountains, what else ?
    Cascade ricefields, plains, mountains,...
    by Norali
  • The St Paul chapel
    The St Paul chapel
    by Norali
  • Ambatoharanana (f), Merimandroso, Andringitra (bg)
    Ambatoharanana (f), Merimandroso,...
    by Norali

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    The “trip”

    by Norali Updated Mar 16, 2008

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    My neck of the woods, in the morning

    Favorite thing: Since I don’t know exactly when, a “trip” to Ambatoharanana has been on my mental list. Cannot even talk about a trip, rather about a walk. It is about 2 hour-walk from my home. For this first visit (first in my “adulthood trips” books although there were many visits to this Ambatoharanana as a kid), it took me 2.30 hours as on my way to Ambatoharanana, I went off road to see my grandma family tomb (she is my Dad’s mother - pic 9830). It lies on the slope of a hill one has to climb till its third-height and contour and descent to reach Ambatoharanana. At a time, instead of trotting the usual route, I “pulled out” and climbed the second-third of the hill to get to the tomb (9824). Off course, I took some time enjoying it from there. The highest point I made that day, with views on the Laniera plains. Left the top tier for a great climb next time as not really sure how long it would take me to reach Ambatoharanana, I kinda hurried up. Only made it to the tomb, walked around, looked around and left. I descended the slope the other face and joined the usual route from there.

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    A proper Mathilda for the pioneers !

    by Norali Updated Apr 29, 2007

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    Used to have their proper mathilda
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    Favorite thing: Certainly an interesting one, this museum. If not for its size, it should be for its off beat track content, also out of historical, sentimental interest. As I entered the room that served as a museum, the closest item was this “waltzing mathilda”, leaning against the wall, in bad shape. Understood this was a “kettle” the Missionaries used back then. Also, there were old suitcases they used to trail when going on mission. Gave me a rough idea about conditions in which they toured he island. Off course, some kind of memorabilia, those sport accessories. What were they used for ? To play cricket, polo (?). Interesting this old Corona typing machine… and this 1889 Madagascar map, reported to be the first Madagascar map ever. At a time in that museum, Zaza told me he used to assist the priest at our Malaza church for a year. Aaah! Now, it makes sense how he seemed to know who I was, or at least, from which family exactly I came ! Suddenly remembered about a reportedly cool priest which left Malaza in 2006. I remembered about a farewell present & special day my parents organized last year. Then, I remembered this “Zaza” they used to talk about was the son of a Malaza priest in my 80s childhood. As soon as I could recollect my memory, I told who I was, giving my nick. This nick, everybody in my family, in my village, in my extended families used to use it. Even some friends at school know about it. After the “disclosure”, he said nothing, didn’t seem surprised at all. Of course, he should be in the know for our families living about 50m one from each other when his father used to be the priest at our church.

    Fondest memory: I use to love seeing dusty stuffs of others as they tell so much about their lives, sometimes. Art museums are interesting but more appealing to me are smaller museums that contain personal effects of peoples (esp. letters artists used to exchange with fellows, their journals…), also love archaeology museums. Even attics are attractive to me. Here, in the Ambatoharanana museum, I especially liked the phonograph that still “reads” its gramophone records. I think they’d call it gramophone back then. I was surprised it still worked. I listened to it for a short time. Particularly liked the old cracking sounding that came from it. For a time, I was plunged in those 40s era films. Was told their discs were mostly of classical music. At least for this gramophone, one should visit this museum. lol

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    Told you !

    by Norali Updated Apr 22, 2007

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    Nothing sounds more it than a good old Land Rover!

    Favorite thing: Look at the car under the arch… See ? wasn’t I right about the “English flair” ? For me, not any other car sounded more English than this. There is Mini Cooper, there is Jaguar, there is Aston Martin. Still, under those skies, it’s the Land Rover. Too solid to be a SUV, very reliable on dirt paths, this is the ancestor of those Japanese 4wds which abund on the Malagasy car market. The sight of one dusty LR swifting on the dirty road to my area, in a haze of dust, used to be very familiar as a kid. The real missionary car... at least the LMS & CMS & SPG ones.

    True that our road required this type of vehicle. I would say even more about the dirty paths in remote places where those Missionaries were to head to.

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    The Palissandre interior

    by Norali Updated Apr 22, 2007

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    A bit dusty but in palissandre wood
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    Favorite thing: Not that everything is in palissandre there but still, everything is in palissandre. J Most valuable items in the room I could visit within the Bishop Palace were the period furniture; the staircase, the mantelpiece… all in palissandre wood or voambona. It was dark in those rooms. Cannot blame anybody for not having opened the door that looks on the yard, as I went there without any notice. Plus, it was just cleaned. I previously saw from afar an aid cleaning and dustying the rooms. Still, Zaza ceased all activity to guide me around. How cool is that !
    Now, palissandre wood… I especially liked the work on the staircase and the mantelpiece. In one of the rooms, seemed like something was made to represent Madagascar craftwork. The palissandre pieces of furniture (both the period & the simple furniture) have Malagasy raw silk wraps on them. Elegant !

    I was explained R. G. Vernon was the last Bishop to have inhabited the Palace. He was Rector of the College in the mid-40s & in 1950. Only Zaza lives there now. A bit big for only one person... but then what a place to call home.

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    Ringing the bell at the Bishop Palace

    by Norali Updated Apr 22, 2007

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    Bishop Palace

    Favorite thing: At the entry of the Anglican compound, I heard some voices coming from the yard. Decided to give it a second chance. I entered and saw three men removing wild herbs from the patches of the garden. They saw me and one guy greeted me. Responded. Got closer to them, first to greet he other two and asked whether it was possible to enter the buildings. For I having never seen (over the net) images of what interiors of Ambatoharanana buildings looked like, I simply suspected it was not possible nor customary. But glad I asked as I was told I had to check with Rev. Jean-Jacques at the Bishop Palace, as he, they said, had the keys. Btw, good to know, Malagasy people use to use first name behind a title, Dr Daniel, Rev. Jean-Jacques instead of Dr. Rakoto or Rév. Ranaivojaona. I explained the gardeners that I’d already tried it at the Bishop Palace & told them about my previous try. One of the gardeners was kind enough to offer me his company. I said I could do it alone & didn’t want to bother him & thanked him. “But then”, one of the men insisted “you really have to ring the bell”… Aaah! The bell. Hadn’t seen it. Was told I had to look for the little door at the rear end. Back to the Palace, I went to the little door at the rear end. Ringed the bell and was heard...

    -Cont'd in below "Fondest memory"-

    Fondest memory: ...Introduced myself to Zaza (as Rev. Ranaivojaona required to be called by his nick, I do so), as an Anglican from Malaza parochy and who was visiting Ambatoharanana and would like to visit the interiors of the buildings. He asked from which family. I cited my Grand-father’s name, not mine. As usual in those circumstances, I use to cite my grand-father’s name whenever asked from which family I was. Only when asked who I am, I would give my name. For safety reason (of a female solo traveller), I don’t really like people to know my name neither my place. Not that I didn’t feel safe in the compound, rather that I’m used to this trick to avoid ill-intentioned people to follow me around. Anyway, surprisingly to me, he nodded. Like he knew which family I talked about. He told me to wait for a sec, went upstairs to switch off the music. In no time, he was before me, offering to guide me around. In my request, I pointed to the Library Building and the Chapel to visit. For some unknown reason, I didn’t think of visiting the Bishop Palace’s interior.
    Again, surprisingly, he offered to visit the Palace, a big English villa with surrounding veranda terrace & that is nestled in lush greenery. Flowers, shrubs, fruit trees… everything.

    Fondest Memory: Must be crazy but on my way to return, the perspective of living in the Palace often popped to my mind. Not because it was a Palace, rather because this English-meet-colonial countryside villa inspires peace, is so charming. I “saw” myself there… I like it at my place. To have me dreaming of living in another house, must be really worthwhile. … I like it at my place, have everything there (even the English cottage details & feel !) but I’m this kind of person who sometimes falls for somewhere else, dreams of it but still sticks to old homie. It is my base.

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    A real turning-off, for sure !

    by Norali Updated Apr 22, 2007

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    The UK at my right...

    Favorite thing: Or two… Standing somewhere before entering the compound, it was ricefields plains and that tip of land where lies Merimandroso 9844 at my left and the UK at my right… Amazing, isn't it ?

    Ricefields patchwork use to be “unfamiliar”, “amazing” to many tourists to my country as is the sight of those English-style buildings nestled in the Merina countryside to both tourists and most locals.
    Anglicanism itself is not that widespread here. Thus, little known are those architectural curiosities & gems! Guess it would have been very different if the UK hadn’t stepped out & let France settle in the island.

    As for yours truly, she first visited Ambatoharanana as a kid, tagging along her parents. Not only for sightseeing. Out of historical, religious interest too (although she was rather used to Roman Catholic rites she “learnt” from her consecutive Catholic schools). Both her grand-grand-fathers from her Dad side frequented this Theological College as they were both ordained Anglican priests. Btw, the Anglican Church is locally known as E.E.M, Eklesia Episkopaly eto Madagasikara, that I translate as Madagascar’s Episcopal Church. It was in 1862 that Mgr Vincent William Ryan (a British man from Mauritius) embarked to Madagascar with Gal. Johnstone. Upon their arrival, they were received by Madagascar King Radama II to whom they gave a letter ad a bible from the Queen of England. In Sep. 1864, William Hey & John Holding from the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel (SPG) arrived in Mahavelona (Foulpointe). Two months later, they were followed by Thomas Campbell & Herbert Maundrelle of the Church Missionary Society (CMS) who settled in Vohemar.

    -Cont'd in below "Fondest memory"-

    Fondest memory: From Mervyn Brown’s book, there used to be an agreement between London Mission Society & those two Anglican missions about areas each Missionary should “cover”. The 1862 agreement was that the LMS, which was already the most widespread & powerful on Imerina soil, was to focus on the Plateau (basically. Antananarivo & Fianarantsoa areas) whilst CMS missions, (under the direction of the Bishop of Mauritius) should confine themselves to the North & East coasts. Agreement honoured by CMS but for SPG being reluctant to it, the latter began to work on an appointment of a Bishop of Madagascar. The traditional hostility between Nonconformists and the Established Church, combined with the inter-Anglican SPG-CMS clash, led The Archbishop of Canterburry advise the appointment of a bishop, not from the Anglican Church but from the Episcopal Church of Scotland… hence the E.E.M name. In protest, CMS withdrew from the island.

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    Library building

    by Norali Updated Apr 21, 2007

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    Massive yet stylish as a Library building

    Favorite thing: After visiting the Bishop palace, we headed to the Library building. It holds the bell, the Library Hall, a small Museum and classrooms at the basement. Couldn’t see all of these as he hadn’t all the keys with him. Another person used to keep those keys & he/she was absent that day. Only got the keys to the Library room but not the key to the glassroom that shelters the book shelvings. Could only visit a small Museum. It contains ustensils, everyday life items that the “pioneers” used to use when they arrived & settled as Missionaries.
    The Library building is the first building seen from the entry, the tallest too, makes it the easiest to spot from afar.

    All I could say is that to be able to "see it all", one'd better call before visiting. I went to Ambatoharanana to exercise (walking is my main exercise mode). Was not really focused on sightseeing, let alone on visiting interiors of building as a "bona fide" VTer should do. It calls for an Encore! Don't you think ?

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    Saint Paul chapel

    by Norali Updated Apr 21, 2007

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    St Paul Chapel differs from the many churches here

    Favorite thing: Only the exterior of the Saint Paul chapel I could see that day. 53, 54. Anyway, it was great to make a yard all mine. For a long time, I was there alone, enjoying the serenity of the place, either sitting on a bench nearby, al fresco under the shade of eucalyptus trees, either strolling to look around, to enjoy views on Amboatany and the massif on which it lies, to enjoy countryside scenery. Nearly forgot it, it has been a while since last time I mentioned the Merina countryside, hasn’t it ?

    Inside…
    Although I couldn’t see the interior this time, I know it is worthwhile. Not impressive as a cathedral. Rather, its charm lies within the display of beautiful details, delicate works & carvings on palissandre wood. In fact, after spending relaxing time in the serene yard, I went to the Bishop Palace to ask whether it was possible to visit the interiors of those buildings. In the Palace yard, heard a music played. Called to see someone but probably due to the music someone upstairs listened, none could hear me. Didn’t insist, left the Palace.

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    Hide-and-seek

    by Norali Updated Apr 21, 2007

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    Ambatoharanana (f), Merimandroso, Andringitra (bg)
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    Favorite thing: After some stroll, I could see Ambatoharanana nestled in a valley, below the road I walked. Kind of saw the tip of an iceberg. Not the whole village, only the rooftops of the Chapel, the spire of the Library building surrounded by the tall trees around. There is the compound of the Anglican Theological College. Without knowing about the design & functions of buildings in the compound, one acquainted with religious building styles used in Madagascar would have noticed the “rare” design of the spire (where hangs the bell). Anyway, here is Ambatoharanana when I "pulled out" to enjoy a broader view…
    Next picture, views on Laniera plains at my left as Ambatoharanana (at my right) is hidden by a high slope. As my walk unfolded, my eyes lost track of Ambatoharanana to lie on one of its immediate neighbourhood. Merimandroso lies on the tip of land, located West of Ambatoharanana, as seen on the third picture. A town that houses the first market place ever on Imerina region. Instaured by King Nampoina (reign: 1780-1810), 44… At last, Ambatoharanana again! With the spire, the lush greenery, the small carmin mud houses outside the compound.9876. That is fun while walking the usual route to Ambatoharanana, with the latter playing hide & seek with its visitors.
    9876.

    Fondest memory: Walking this serene landscape, passing those silent pinetree forest, climbing those hills and overlooking the plains around, being the witness of some rural scenery, I can't help but imagining how it would be with a motorbike. Quicker, sure. Exciting. But then, would I still have the opportunity to lean over some shrub to smell it, to scratch some talus to check of mineral it was? Am very aware it is possible but then, it would be to stop every 50m...

    I still crave for some motorbike (one day)... but to discover a place, to experience a trail, walking offers more opportunities to connect with nature. Plus, playable if it's just about a 2to4-hour-walk.

    The fresh air, the sound of cicadas in the grass, the wind passing through pinetree branches. Those sounds... Vroom vroom would just cover them. Still, the Merina countryside offers those scenic trails for cycling and biking.

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    Tentative illustrations of typical Merina country

    by Norali Updated Apr 19, 2007

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    Cascade ricefields, plains, mountains, what else ?
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    Favorite thing: Just look what I saw nearby. Nothing special, just some landscape up there, with a small valley, cascade ricefields, the grass, tips of land surrounded by the ricefields plains, sparse villages, pinetrees, eucalyptus trees (guess who may have imported them from Australia…), hills, mountains, mountain ranges at the background. Still...

    Fondest memory: Instants like this one when I saw & snapped picture1 are definitely what I experienced as breathtaking. You climb a hill. You look around, snap pictures of those cascade hills, of those patchwork plains (9841). Then you descent a slope the other face and are still surprised by such simple beauty. From up there, I saw this tiny valley. Not that impressed. It’s only when I jumped from the talus to join the road & walked further that I got this… This single moment, this particular angle. I don’t know. I just liked it seen & viewed this way. The more I wander, the more I try (and, sometimes, succeed!) to really connect to my environment. Not to spot every detail, simply trying to see, view things (a situation, a landscape, a concern) under different lights, from different angles. We cannot see it all but it’s good to see the few we see “differently”.

    Cost nothing if not your attention.

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    The village feel

    by Norali Updated Apr 18, 2007

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    Outside the complex, in the main arteria

    Favorite thing: Afterwards, I decided to walk down the dormitory area, to see what the rest of the compound looked like. It was made of a dozen of small bungalows for those among the Theological College students which are married. [Later on, just before leaving Ambatoharanana, I was told by Zaza (or Rev. Jean-Jacques Ranaivojaona), who was kind enough to guide me, a impromptu visitor, around that the Theological College has about 25 students, that the Saint Paul Primary & Secondary schools teach up to the 4th form]. After some time wandering, I was about to leave the place. I returned to where I entered the complex via the main arteria in Ambatoharanana village: a light slope a light slope I purposedly climbed slowly to enjoy the village feel. It was Easter holidays & at this hour they should have been tied to their school desks, kids were playing together in their yards or on the street. I spotted youngsters playing cards, excited and noisy. Probably, money was involved in the process. Mothers chatted together either on a bench in one of the yards, either around a vendor stall that sold fruits, peeled peanuts. Some minutes in that street make up for the total silence of hours spent in the Anglican compound. Both were truly enjoyable.

    Fondest memory: The greetings from the kids playing on the street. Those were the first words I’d ever heard (& answered) since my arrival in Ambatoharanana, two hours earlier. Bound to think that greetings from village kids would be the classical welcoming you would ever get while visiting Merina countryside villages. Probably the same all over the island, btw. Except in some village 2-hr stroll from Ambatoharanana. Read my Ambohidrabiby page to spot which village I talk about. No, it’s certainly not Ambohidrabiby. Kids are very polite there.

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    Goodbye Ambatoharanana

    by Norali Written Apr 18, 2007

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    Favorite thing: On my way to returning, 9888, 78 it was past 4pm, time to see the Sun setting Westwards with those rays of lights playing on the earth surface, on houses walls, on ricefields plains that may appear either gold, yellow, light green, dark green according to maturation. Also, time for this last glance on Ambatoharanana, 9884. While leaving Ambatoharanana, I knew I’ll return, at least for the interiors I couldn’t see that time. Also, for some ambience there, the serenity of the yard, the nice welcome one’ d receive going there on sightseeing. Needless to say, the place is where one should go to escape from it all. Also, for the cracking sound from the gramophone. Can’t wait to live it when the students are there, it was Easter holidays when I got there. In return, I wouldn’t see the villagekids since they’re supposed to be at school... or I'd see them in the school yard since the Anglican complex has a primary-Secondary school.

    Fondest memory: Don’t laugh! If I really have to choose one, it would be the cracking sound from the gramophone. Now I understand why some still own, buy and listen to those old records. I’d buy polka records then… and waltz, and New Orleans jazz, and Edith Piaf whose Cds although I use to listen to.

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    The English buildings…

    by Norali Written Apr 14, 2007

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    The St Paul chapel
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    Favorite thing: Classical as a title. As classical as when there is nothing enthralling to tell about. That’s right, I don’t have anything exciting to write about the buildings, except that I really really love this style! So rare under those skies. Architect(s): unknown to me, still have to get that piece of info. Surely a UK man, as Great Britain had proven to be able to provide us with those talented & stylish professionals. William Pool, for instance, took charge of designing the famous and elegant Manampisoa (inaugurated 1866) as well as the Protestant temple (inaugurated 1880), both within the royal complex of Manjakamiadana (atop the hill in Antananarivo). Too bad, you’ll have to make do with pictures to have an idea about some of the buildings since this 1995 arson. It was the same Pool who redesigned & rebuilt, in 1880, the ancient Prime Minister Andafiavatra Palace (rebuilt after an arson in 1974).
    Back to our St Paul Chapel, it was inaugurated in 1882 whilst the Saint Paul Theological College opened in 1878. As it is an Anglican chapel, built by Missionaries, once again, I’d find it very logical to presume about the UK citizenship of its architect. Also, there used to be at least another UK man to be involved in those construction works, James Cameron (no, this one isn’t any involved in the entertainment business). The latter drew plans of some of the buildings Pool used to (re)build. Also, those Missionaries from the UK (first along with Norwegian ones) had just then tied contacts with King Radama II: (Protestant) London Mission Sty in 1862 & (Anglican) Church Missionary Society)...

    -Cont"d in below Fondest memory-

    Fondest memory: ... However, I learnt from this visit that, for the Ambatoharanana area being primarily inhabited by a small group of people from Mozambique, many of those Masombika slaves (as “Masombika” is how the Malagasy locals use to name them) took part in the construction works of the buildings within the Anglican complex. They’d be, however, deported somewhere to leave the area for the Missionaries. Sad! Deported or freed after slavery abolition, still have to be sure about the fact.

    Check pictures 48 (chapel), 49 (library), 52 (vue du dos de la chapelle vers entrée), ??? Bishop Palace.

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