A long ride

Arrived in Ambositra for supper: A long day, after a late start. I got everything packed ready to go and waited. Dr Elson was stuck in traffic. I began to wonder if I was still in St. Louis. :) Eventually we got started. Traffic was present but not bad as Dr. Elson knew a less traveled way of out Antananarivo.

We stopped to buy supplies, since fruit and vegetables have not been available at Edjeda (drought). Pineapple, fresh ripened on the plant – 5 cents. I told Hanitra (Mrs. Elson) that Karen would be jealous. We stopped for carrots and cabbage, big beautiful vegetables. Apples at about 1.5 cents. This is all in the Antsirabe area. As we drove through Antsirabe, they told how they had grown up here, and how their children had raised chickens for eggs – several hundred. This was “egg money” money for the children while they were attending school there. Then in Camerons (where Dr. Elson was in Medical school) the children raised the family vegetables.

I had some fresh apples and bananas today. The peeling isn't shiny like the American versions, but the flavor is fresh with a delicate overtone you don't get in the supermarket.

This is hilly country, the ground is red clay when it isn't granite. Lush rice fields in the valleys paralleling the rivers and mounting the crevices on the mountains, where ever they guide the water. Most houses have a few flowers planted around them. I saw a field filled with marigolds. Canna is often planted on the hill banks by rice fields.

The Malagasy of the highlands all build with brick. They build the formed brick into square more or less solid “houses” and then burn under them to fire the bricks. As the forests are pretty well cut over, they have discovered what has to be poor quality peat under the rice fields. So now they are cutting (digging) that up and using it to fire the brick. I saw men throwing the bricks up to load in a truck to bring to the city and another group throwing the bricks out of the truck for use. In both cases someone is catching the bricks and stacking them.

Houses are built of these bricks, using mud mortar if they are poor and traditional. Then they are covered with more mud (which dries quite hard) as a rain protector. Today they use cement for mortar and build in the corners with reinforced cement. Then each floor up has a reinforced cement floor. All this cement hold everything together well. Then the outside is smoothed over with cement for a final weather proof.