Three times a year we travel to the capital Antananarivo. Jurgen undertook this trip every month the first year we lived in Maroamboka. A trip that, if everything goes well, can be done in 16 hours. In the capital we meet friends, we get to worship in English at our church, and we can arrange the necessary administrative matters (such as visa, car and motorcycle papers and several money matters).
It is a tiring journey. We prefer to combine the trip with a stopover in Ranomafana. This is a tourist village in the middle of the national park with the same name. We always look forward to stay there for two or three days before traveling on to Tana.
Needless to say there are luxury hotels and restaurants in a place like Ranomafana. These hotels mainly rely on tourism. However, we prefer to stay in a simple hotel called ‘La Palmeraie’. It is simple but adequate and also affordable for the Malagasy in terms of price. Hotel La Palmeraie is our place. Mama’i Kano is the owner and she knows us well. She is very welcoming and receives us joyfully. The rooms are simple and, not unimportant, clean! We always have two rooms for which we pay a total of 60,000 Ariary (about € 15,–) per night. We share the toilet and the shower (with hot water) with other guests which is okay because there are cleaned several times a day.
We usually plan to stay a few days, from Monday to Thursday. We leave on Monday morning to arrive in the afternoon. We don’t do much on Tuesdays. The children usually go into the village or to a river to play. On Wednesdays we sometimes go to the thermal bath. This bath is cleaned weekly on Tuesday so Wednesday is the day to go. For us it is 1,000 Ariary (about € 0.25) per person because we live on Madagascar. For tourists it is slightly more expensive (5,000 Ariary, about € 1,25)). On Thursday morning we leave around 05:00 to arrive in Tana in the evening. This is the way we try to keep traveling a fun and a bit more relaxed thing to do.
We’ll post some photos of Hotel La Palmeraie below. There are also rooms available with a private shower and toilet. The rooms vary from large to small. Prices start at 30,000 Ariary (about€ 7,50) with the ‘most expensive’ room for 60,000 Ariary per night. Telephone number: +261 34 45 940 88
Our area is rich in many respects: there is an abundance of rice, fruit, coffee and sugarcane. Most people have chickens, while the rich own cattle. Local stores sell basic food items such as beans, peanuts and dried fish. Despite low wages (Eur 0,74 a day) our neighbours have enough … until sickness arrives.
Treatment by a local GP costs anywhere between 5 and 8 days’ wages, whereas treatment in hospital – over 2 hours’ drive away – costs several months’ wages. Our neighbours often know where to find us when the dark days come. Letena came to us this last December. His wife urgently needed a caesarian in hospital, but he did not have any funds. If no help came he would lose his baby and his wife – also mother of his son.
We helped Letena with a gift and a loan. The same day his wife was transported to hospital where a healthy daughter was born. Now, over half a year later, both mother and child are faring well. The child received the name ‘Fandriana soa nomenan’Andriamanitra’, which means ‘The Creator gave a good bed’.
Meanwhile business has picked up for Letena: sofar he has been able to pay back over half of his debt to us. By giving money to pay towards medical expenses we help save lives; by giving credit our neighbours retain their pride and dignity as they show the ability to provide for their families. Giving and lending is also culturally appropriate: borrowing and lending are a normal part of interdependency in relationships.
On behalf of Letena and many other neighbours: a warm thank you to everyone who has helped us to live and give in this place!
The motorbike is a blessing! It saves so much time in travelling. Now, Jurgen is able to visit not one but two or three villages per day. Also the villages that are far away or hard to reach. As long as there is a doable path, Jurgen can travel on it.
The children love to come along as well. They scream and laugh whilst bouncing up and down on the bad road. In the villages they like to listen to the stories and they love the Malagasy hospitality. The Malagasy are amazed that they are able to hold on… That motorbike goes so fast!
Jurgen hopes to travel to Vatohanitra soon. Vatohanitra is the next community from our place. The purpose of this visit is to meet up with a new pastor, Stanis, who came to live their just two months ago. We hope we can work together. If that works out we can leave the care of some villages near Vatohanitra to him and his church. The pastor does not speak the dialect yet so we have to be patient. The first meeting, two months ago, went well. He was very enthusiastic about all the work that has already started.