|The tour in Madagascar continues to the south, and descending from the plateau center. A wide valley is home to the city of Ambalavao, known for the presence of the only vineyards in Madagascar and for the production of a particular paper made from the bark of a tree, as if it were a papyrus.|
in Madagascar. Madagascar is not definitely known for the production of
wine, however this activity exists only along certain valleys in the
center of the country, where the right conditions occur. The grape
harvest generally occurs in January.
winery is equipped with concrete barrels and bottling is done
completely by hand. Wine is used only for domestic consumption in
Madagascar and is not exported. White wine, red wine and brandy are
Ambalavao tour continues with a visit to a small family run business
where silk is worked from the cocoon, to get to the final fabric.
|The cocoons properly prepared, are boiled for three days before being hung out to dry.|
|The raw silk thus obtained is spun with a patient manual labor.|
|The ball of silk obtained is then colored using exclusively natural dyes of plant origin.
|Finally, with this rudimentary weaving machine, the thread is woven to form the desired tissue.|
|The Ambalavao tour continues with a visit to a factory that produces a very special paper (antaimoro paper, similar to parchment) from the bark of AVOHA, a shrub that lives in southern Madagascar. The bark is collected and compressed into cylindrical parts, before being sent to Ambalavao for processing. In the photo above, the tree of AVOHA and its trunk with bark (after the collection of the bark the plant does not die, but it is able to generate additional bark for the next cycle).|
|The bark is boiled for 3-4 hours.|
boiling, the bark is beaten until you get a paste-like consistency and
texture you want. So, a ball of dough weighing 400 grams (picture
above) is produced . Subsequently, the ball of dough is dissolved
within a shape, where it is deposited in the form of a thin layer
(picture on the right).
antaimoro paper is then cut into sheets of the desired size and
decorations are applied using fresh flower petals. The work is then
exposed outdoors to allow complete drying.
Photo of antaimoro paper.
|Finally it is then packaged for sale, creating squares, postcards and envelopes. At present, the paper antaimoro is used only for decorative purposes, and not as a support for writing as it was in origin.|
|Photo Ambalavao. In Ambalavao I find big trees of Poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima or Poinsettia)|
|Continuing the journey in Madagascar to the south, shortly after Ambalavao, I visit a market of zebu, which normally is held on Wednesday of each week (subject to be extended to Thursday if there were more animals to sell, as in this case). Remember that the zebu is a massive bovine for meat and work ,extremely important for the domestic economy of Madagascar. The animal is provided with a kind of hump just behind the withers, which constitutes an accumulation of fat which makes this bovine particularly resistant to drought.|
|Zebu market photos. The price of a zebu adult is around 330 Euro with the current exchange rate.|
|I reach the small park of Anja, where I come immediately across a chameleon perfectly camouflaged with the bark of this shrub.|
|The head of this chameleon resembles' that of the fearsome T-Rex.
|A colony of strange insects moves along a branch.|
|Two small tree frogs the size of a fingernail.|
|A strange insect.|
the main attraction of the park of Anja, in south-central Madagascar,
are the catta lemurs, also known as the ring-tailed lemurs (Lemur catta)
|Photo of lemur catta.|
|Unlike other lemurs that are able to extract enough water from the plant products they eat, the ring-tailed lemur prefers to drink and this puddle becomes the drinking point for this group of animals.|
|Photo of Lemur catta. After drinking, this ring-tailed lemur licks its whiskers before shaking the excess water from his face.|
|Another photo of lemur katta.|
|Photo of ring-tailed lemur. The lemur katta is medium in size, has strictly diurnal habits and is quite widespread throughout the southern Madagascar, however, the IUCN classifies it as "nearly threatened" due to deforestation.|
|The journey continues towards Isalo, leaving the wettest area of eastern Madagascar and entering a kind of arid savannah.|