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Saturday, September 11, 2010

RN7 Trip – Ranomafana to Ambalavao

We got a leisurely start to our trip to Ambalavao. We would drive through Fianarantsoa, stop for some cash, and check into our hotel in Ambalavao.

We arrived without incident and had some lunch after we got settled. Then it was off to the winery, paper factory, and silk factory. First we went to the winery and toured the factory. To all of you wines snobs out there, this was a far cry from Napa. First of all, the wines are identified only by color: white, gris, rose, and red. We got to walk around on the vats and then our guide dipped a glass into a vat of each flavor and poured us each a half shot glass to taste. Wow…it was god-awful! But, y’know, at less than two bucks a bottle, we each got a bottle of our favorite flavor anyway….

I have very little to say about the paper factory. Aside from blank cards with dried flowers that have that certain kitschy charm, handmade paper is pretty lame.

Then we went to the silk factory, which was really the silk store. There were some really beautiful raw silk scarves, but the guy didn’t want to bargain at all. For being terrible at bargaining, I guess I’ve gotten to the point where I just can’t accept a fixed price! I tried again at another store, but she didn’t come down even 10%! I’m not sure what’s different about Ambalavao—everywhere else in Madagascar so far has been bargaining-friendly. At any rate, I’m sorry Mom, Sandi, Kerry, and every other woman in my family I was thinking might enjoy a handmade raw silk scarf!

On our way back, Mamy left us in the middle of the village and we poked around a bit on our way back. Ambalavao is certainly a sleepy little town! Now we are back at the hotel and I’m finally catching up on our blog (although these won’t get posted until we have internet again—hopefully when we get to the coast, but maybe not until we get back to Tana). It’s about 7:00 PM and I guess we’ll eat soon and then go to bed. We’ll do a short hike at nearby Anja Reserve in the morning. After that, we’re off to spend the night near Isalo National Park, where, the next day, we’ll do a full day of hiking and hopefully more lemur-spotting!

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