Reviewing those pictures, one cannot but repeat it… It’s all but crowded!
Must say that enjoying such feeling of freedom, serenity and solitude can really be the purpose of a daytrip to this area! Me, crazy ? Wish I could be… but talking with who use to commute to the Tana urban center to work, they all dream of such place, fresh air, silence. After years of polluted air, noise, downtown hassle, nightclubs are not necessarily the antidot to stress and this feeling of nervous tiredom. Sex it could be. But this is not usually to do with a large group of friends. Lounging it could be. But is it enough to satisfy the adrenaline fix? And you know what ? After a great outdoor day, lounging is always ideal. And after a relaxing lounging or the morning following a great sleep, you could do the other exciting thing. ;-) Monday morning, you’re ready to tackle the work week with a smile beaming, a good mood, stretched legs, toned thighs, memories of fun, scenery, landscapes to pull out during those boring meetings.
Anyway, enjoy those views from different angles, spots, turfs, levels on this hill.
A few weeks following my first visit to Ambohidrabiby, one of its sides was burnt to ashes... It happened during presidential election campaign (this kind of “political statement” had drastically diminushed after the departure of the dictator we used to have as president, still, it uses to be a sad sight). I was hiking in the Ambohimanga area when I saw fumes over one Ambohidrabiby hillside. Very noticeable as the two hills are “sisters to each other”. First, because they are neighbours to each other. Second, Ambohidrabiby was “annexed” by the Ambohimanga Kingdom in some point in history (18th-19th cent)...
to be continued in Fondest Memory
Fondest memory: ... Saw the flames in an afternoon but the guys in Ambohimanga then told me the flames hit the hillside in the morning. What to say ? As I explained earlier, it’s one of those hills which have some “tricky” water supply. As far as I could remember, there were people trying to extinct the fire but didn’t suffice to do it quickly. For the medieval city being quite far from the city center, the only to have its firemen squad, I’m suspecting one didn’t even think of calling for help from the squad. Anyway, a great deal of one hillside had burnt.
Also, Ambohidrabiby village counts only 9 men (out of a “grand” total of 70 inhabitants) & I guess they should have run everywhere for some time to call for the help from other villages in the Ambohidrabiby municipality (village like Fonohasina, for instance).
Voafotsy tea tree flowers... No special perfume but some beauty & this bitter taste. Yes, it's a fondest memory. Have to check whether the beautiful voafotsy plants could resist the flames or not. What I think now is that there were so numerous that some could be left... but who knows...
With those voafotsy tea trees, fragrant shrubs whose names I don’t know, ferns, pinewoods, eucalyptus, some wild fruit trees, one could guess it would have been a scenery of lush greenery if it wasn’t winter time. Some leaves were green but the grass was dry. That was in September, the time of the year a serious water shortage threaten usually turns into reality.
Of the many hills I hiked, Ambohidrabiby seems to be the most affected by this water shortage. Talking with one local there, I confided my surprise to find a village which hasn’t changed much from ancient times here. In a sense, it’s a good thing. Still, I had to explain how came Ambohidrabiby village, despite its importance in Merina history & its renoun, seemed to be so “small”, so “underdeveloped”… if not to mean so “poor”. Was explained that exodus was accountable for this situation. Over the decades, the big noble families had reportedly lost contact with their city. This resulted in the loss of interest & lack of incentives to develop the area. Even the peasants have trouble finding water for their cultivation. Not influent enough to be heard, they were once given a pump for the whole city. But even with a pump, it still suffers from the low water level in the round in winter. Also, in other hills like Mangabe, Amboatany, there are valleys on some flanks that naturally collect water & could comprehend vegetable patches, ricefield patches… In Ambohidrabiby, I noticed two schools (which isn’t a bad thing), a church and old houses. Some are getting refurbished. Any hope for some revitalizing change here ?
Following the signs to the cave, I went out of the compound, skirting the moats.
Here are some of views I had from there... Then, it already comforted my assumption that one got to really wander around in Ambohidrabiby, get out of the historical place that is the sacred & medieval compound. In fact, most of my time spent in the area was to walk up and down the hill. North face, Western face, Eastern face… whatever. I felt like a green pea in a tin that get shaken, going up, going down in all senses… Did that without even noticing how time flied.
Mind you, I first climbed the hill and got past the Ralambo gate. Entered the village and headed to the compound, had a little stroll there. Sitting on a bench near the amaryllis flowers as that morning, I was there early enough to see schoolkids (older than those who greeted me earlier) gathering in front of the museum before it was time to join their classroom at a school nearby. Either playing, either chatting, either gossiping abut this big lady with a camera looking at the stone tombs… When the kids were gone, it was serenity all over the place. Could sit there alone soaking up the ambience. Was only afterwards, that I left the compound to follow the Manendy trail by skirting the moats. Then, at a point, had to walk in the moats to reach the grotto… Didn’t enter the cave though, walking there alone was a bit freightening. One of rare moments I didn’t feel safe.
Along the hike, breathtaking views, memorable sights.