October 24, 2016

Tonight we were staying at a charity in Ambositra whose aim was to do good works for the people of the countryside. We had left Antsirabe at 3:30 pm and arrived there, at the Voteta Bungalows, before dinner time. These bungalows were actually dorm rooms, men’s and women’s, and the toilets were the long-drop variety. But by staying here we were directly supporting the community development of health projects, agriculture, water supply, and the empowerment of women.

Women’s dorm at Voteta Bungalows

Women’s dorm at Voteta Bungalows

Our evening meal was a typical Malagasy meal starting with a vegetable soup, followed by zebu meat with green beans, carrots, and rice. Dessert was local pineapple and mango. After dinner we were treated to Malagasy folk music and dancing; the dancers and musicians were very energetic and performed for about an hour.

Folkloric dancing

Folkloric dancing

October 25, 2016

Today was going to be a long drive to Ranomafana so we were on the road quite early, before 8 am. One of the places supported by our charity was a workshop in Ambositra where people are trained in carpentry and creative woodworking, so we stopped there. We were given a demonstration of the wood-carving process and the marquetry work. The tools there were made of recycled materials including, for example, the jigsaw blade which was made from steel extracted from an old radial tire. But with tools like that the woodworker could still cut pieces of wood to a tolerance of 0.1 millimeters and fit them into a picture.

Wood-carver at work

Wood-carver at work

We had been warned that we couldn’t take ebony and rosewood out of the country, but here they used palisander wood, which worked better because they didn’t leave stains during the finishing process. That made things simpler for us.

Finished product of marquetry

Finished product of marquetry

We went into the shop, which was full of decorative wood items; we ignored the sculptures (ebony and rosewood) and concentrated on plaques and similar items. Oddly there were a lot of replicas of covers of Tin-Tin books, but we ended up buying some salad spoons made of zebu horn and a lovely marquetry piece depicting a hoopoe. Hopefully we’ll see a hoopoe before we leave Madagascar!

And then it was back into the bus to continue the long drive to Ranomafana.

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