Fruit on Madagascar

Fruit on Madagascar

Our village’s name is Maroamboka. It is located in the south-east of Madagascar between the coastal towns of Mananjary and Manakara. Our area is rich in coffee, vanilla and … fruit!

We have never eaten as many different fruits as here on Madagascar. That started when we lived in the capital, Antananarivo. But now, in Maroamboka, a large part of our diet consists of fruit. Vegetables, on the other hand, are scarce. We really have to leave the area in search of a good variety of vegetables.

For some time now we wanted to write a post about the fruit that we have at our disposal. We will also describe some fruits that we have encountered in our travels in Madagascar.

Along the way we will add more fruits because we hardly scratched the surface of all the fruits we have to our disposal.

seed of the tamarinde
English: Tamarind
Malagasy: Madilo of Kily of Madir of kilendraza,
Dutch: Tamarinde

We had a Tamarind tree next to our house in Maroamboka. Unfortunately, it was blown over during a heavy cyclone. The fruits are often used to make juice (Jus Naturel). It is mixed with water and sugar. The pure fruit is extremely sour (at least the fruits we had were sour). We have also heard that people find them sweet. So maybe those are different kind.

English: Not found yet.
Malagasy: Vonomby
Dutch: Not found yet.

This is a fruit we found at the market. When asked about the name we were given a common French name, which meant something like fruit of the cow(?!) The Malagasy name, ‘vonomby,’ means approximately the same. The taste is not strong, it is sweet and has a bit of a dry bite, it gives a dry feeling in your mouth.

Sweet sour juice from Soursop on MadagascarEnglish: Soursop
Malagasy: Corossol or Voantsokona
Dutch: Zuurzak

This is a relative of the Sweetsop, but is not eaten in the same way. Here it is mainly used to make a really delicious fruit-drink, juice naturel. When in season, we eat them almost daily. They have a bit of a gumball flavour and are deliciously sweet/sour in taste.

Sweet custart apple, sugar-apple or sweetsop on MadagascarEnglish: Custart apple, Sugar-apple or Sweetsop
Malagasy: Pocanelle, Konikony, Voanjato or Voazato
Dutch: Zoetzak

The Malagasy name, Voanjato, literally translates as ‘hundred seeds’. The fruit is creamy and filled with dozens of bean-sized black seeds. It’s a hassle to eat because you’re constantly busy spitting out all seeds, but once you start eating you can’t stop! Deliciously sweet with a bit of a vanilla pudding-like taste.

Sweet custart apple, sugar-apple or sweetsop on Madagascar

Guava fruit MadagascarEnglish: Guava
Malagasy: Goavy or Angavo
Dutch: Guava

I don’t know if there is a Dutch name for it, so we just call this fruit ‘Guava’ and in our village ‘Goavy’. You can eat the whole fruit and it has a sour taste. It is packed with small seeds that you just swallow. The Guavas come in two colors: yellow/green and reddish. The red ones below (English name: Strawberry apple) are a bit tougher but the taste seems the same.

Strawberry apple Madagascar

Delicious Jackfruit hanging in the trees on madagascarEnglish: Jackfruit
Malagasy: Apaly-be or Ampalibe
Dutch: Nanka or Jackfruit

Jackfruits are the giants among the fruits. They can weigh up to 20 pounds each! Children climb the trees to cut down the fruit. Don’t stand underneath the tree when the fruit comes down. They often roll the fruits home. The road in front of our house is steep and you have to get out of the way when they bounce and roll down. The flesh is soft and the seeds (stones really) can be cooked and used for example in a salad. The Malagasy also cook the unripe fruit. The mush is then prepared with salt and eaten with rice. The fruits have a glue-like substance which looks and feels like wood glue. A horrible substance when it gets in your hair or on your clothes. We use a mix of salt and petroleum, to wash our hands to get rid of the sticky substance. Often the fruit ripens faster than we can eat it and then the taste becomes extremely sweet with a tingling effect on your tongue (alcohol).

Jackfruit delicious on madagascar

Loquat of MadagascarEnglish: Loquat
Malagasy: Pibasy
Dutch: Loquat

This tree stood in our ‘backyard’. The flesh of this fruit is peach-coloured and they have a large shiny brown kernel. They have a slightly sour taste. We prefer to buy them when we see them during our travels or in the market. The tree behind our house was not such a success because the ants had made it their favourite workshop and they decided that nobody was allowed to come close.

Lychees of MadagascarEnglish: Lychee / Rambutan
Malagasy: letchi
Dutch: Lychee / Ramboetan

The taste is wonderful and almost addictive. Of course we knew the Lychees in the Netherlands as a luxury product, but here on Madagascar they grow just about everywhere. In season, late October till January, the market is flooded with them. They are cheap on the market (€ 0,75 per kilo), in our area we pay even less (for a large shopping bag full maybe only €0,25). Often we have to much and we have to tell people that we are not buying … There they are with their ‘goods’. No worries! We do not have to pay anything because at moments like that it is given to us as a gift. In addition to the regular Lychees, there are also the hairy Lychees (Rambutan). We don’t see them often in our area. They are a bit harder and less juicy and sweet.
Rambutan, chineese lychee on Madagascar

Sweet Mango of MadagascarEnglish: Mango
Malagasy: Manga
Dutch: Mango

Mangoes come on the markets in December till January and, like most fruit, they are very cheap (€0,05/0,12 each in the cities). In our village we pay (if we have to pay) about €0,02 each. I’m not sure what variety of mango this is (there are a lot of varieties). In our area we mainly see the red/green Mangoes, but on the market we also find the yellow Mangoes.

Makoba, mountain apples of MadagascarEnglish: Mountain Apple
Malagasy: Makoba
Dutch: Djamboe bol, Maleisische rozenappel or Maleisische wasappel

The taste of this fruit, originally from Malaysia, does not resemble an apple. The taste is a bit flat and dull. It is spongy and watery but they are good thirst quenchers. We eat these fruits especially when we are on the road. They are sold on the sides of the road. I have not yet seen them in our area.

Passionfruit can be enoying but the taste greatEnglish: Passion-fruit
Malagasy: Giranadela
Dutch: Passievrucht

We have two types of passion-fruit here: The larger one with the yellow skin and the slightly smaller one with a purple/reddish skin. The Malagasy likes to make it in to juice (Jus Naturel). Very nice when it is warm and you want a refreshing drink. The passion-fruit grows throughout our area. We have partially removed one behind our toilet. The passion-fruit grows on tendrils. These tendrils need other plants, shrubs and trees for support. If you let them grow they will soon cover everything and suffocate other vegetation. But oh boy, they are lovely (very sour, though) and the flowers are beautiful.

Passionfruit can be enoying but the taste great

English: Papaya
Malagasy: Papay
Dutch: Papaja

We don’t have many Papayas in our area, but every now and then we can get our hands on one. You can buy them everywhere in the bigger places. Our children are not so fond of them … I think we ate them a little too often. That started in 2015 when we attended a three weeks course in Kenya before flying on to Madagascar. Every meal (morning, afternoon and evening) there were Papayas. Once in Madagascar there were Papayas again! Sometimes we get Papaya as a gift. Fruits the size of a basketball. The children are polite and say ‘thank you’. Very well-mannered to the donors… then they say in Dutch: ‘Daaaddy, they have brought one again, what do you what me to do with it?’. Good thing the Malagasy don’t understand a word.
Papaya market on Madagascar

Huge banana trees in our graden on madagascarEnglish: Banana
Malagasy: Akondro of fontsy
Dutch: Banaan

Banana puree, banana bread, banana porridge, bananas on pizza, bananas in the spaghetti sauce, bananas … Everywhere! We have several banana trees next to the house. They grow fast and sometimes we need to cut them down because they are likely to fall down in Katja’s vegetable garden or on the roof of the washing place. We also buy bananas from people at the door, three large or six small for €0,02 all year round. We love them, and honestly, the taste so much better than the ones you buy in the supermarkets of Holland. You’ll have to come over and try them for yourself.

Huge banana bunch on Madagascar

English: Avocado
Malagasy: Zavoka
Dutch: Avocado

Just like the Papayas, we don’t have many Avocados growing in our area. The season runs from January to April. They are mostly available on the larger markets and cost about €0,10 each. This fruit is not a favourite among our children, but Katja and I love them (both the fruit and the children). They are also very healthy so we will buy them when we see them.

Avacodo from Madagascar

Baobab fruit from MadagascarEnglish: Baobab
Malagasy: Baobab
Dutch: Baobab

Since October 2019, these wonderful trees are growing in our area as well. On one of our trips to the capital, we came across the fruits. We had never had it before and at €0,20 per fruit we wanted to try it. The fruit has a hard, velvety exterior and is filled with seeds surrounded by dry, almost chalky flesh. The taste is a bit bland but we have heard that it is also used to make fruit juice (Jus Naturel). We have kept the seeds and grown them at home. Of the 40 seeds, 30 germinated and 4 have proven strong enough to withstand the attacks of snails, chickens and heavy rain showers. They now grow on a patch of ground behind our toilet. Who knows, maybe after 100 years, we may end up with our own Avenue of the Baobabs like in Morondava.

De Allée des baobabs (Avenue of the Baobabs) Morondava, Madagascar

Breadfruit MadagascarEnglish: Breadfruit
Malagasy: Frampay, Soanambo or Sirapay
Dutch: Broodboom

These fruits are not sweet and have a starchy flesh that becomes soft and potato-like during cooking. They are cheap because there are just a lot of them growing everywhere in the area. They are prepared by cooking them with salt and often eaten as a snack. For larger meals, they are mashed and served with herbs as a side dish (laoka). We don’t like to eat them. Some in our family complained that it causes nausea and stomach pain. I (Jurgen) regularly eat it at people’s homes when I visit. I like it myself. Possibly we do not prepare the fruit properly, I wouldn’t know. I have read that you can also make a kind of french fries with the fruit. That would be quite healthy compared to normal fries because the fruit has a lot of fibres, vitamin C and potassium.

big pineapples on madagascarEnglish: Pineapple
Malagasy: Mananasy
Dutch: Ananas

Delicious! Pineapple is so delicious. They are growing everywhere and we have planted several around the house. Pineapples (just like bananas) taste so much better than what we are used to in the Netherlands. They are not the cheapest fruits on the markets. A large one cost about € 1, -. That is a day’s wages for people in our village. Tourists happily pay double because that is still cheap compared to what pineapples cost in Europe. One day I was chatting to a happy tourist from the Netherlands. He was happy because he had just bought a big Pineapple from that sweet boy for only €2,–. While we were talking that same boy and I made some gestures back and forth. Before the tourist knew what happened I was holding a big Pineapple in my hands. He didn’t quite understand what had happened. In the Netherlands you mainly have to talk, in Madagascar you come a long way with lips gestures, frowning and nodding. I got the Pineapple for the normal Malagasy price, €0,75.

Pineapple growing in our garden on madagascar

June plum or amarella fruit MadagascarEnglish: June plum of Ambarella
Malagasy: Sakoa of Jovia
Dutch: Ambarella

We regularly get sellers at the door with these fruits. They cost about €0,05 per three. You have to be careful because they are regularly picked while still unripe and then they are not so tasty. They look a bit ugly from the outside, but the inside has a sweet yellow flesh that surrounds a spiky stone. The taste is a combination of orange and mango. We eat them the way they come, but also on bread or in a salad.

English: Coconut
Malagasy: coco of Voanio
Dutch: Kokosnoot

Coconuts are especially abundant in the coastal towns. They are served with a straw or the juice is poured into a glass. Afterwards the sellers chop the nut further open so you can eat the pulp. In our village there are two trees. They grow in the yard of our friends and so every now and then we get a few of them.

coconut tree Madagascar

Home education tips

Home education tips

The Corona virus is spreading and everybody needs to stay at home.
Working and learning at home can be a challenge. With the ungoing crisis we thought it is time for some home education tips.
You can read our tips on Facebook as well.

Tip #1 – Home is not a school (31-03-2020)

Tip #2 – Little ones first! (01-04-2020)

Tip #3 – A schedule is good, a rhythm better (02-04-2020)

Tip #4 – We do the chores together! (03-04-2020)

Tip #5 – You Don’t Have to be an Expert (06-04-2020)

Tip #6 – Make Use of the Concentration Peak (07-04-2020)

Tip #7 – Read With and To Your Child (07-04-2020)

Tip #8 – Grace and Mercy are the Winning Team (14-04-2020)

Tip #9 – Play! (15-04-2020)

Tip #10 – A Love for Learning (17-04-2020)

Tip #1 – Home is not a school (31-03-2020)

Many home educators prefer the term ‘home education’ over ‘homeschooling’. Education at home does not turn your home into a school. Relax: home education starts with home. So take time to think and talk about what makes a home: What defines us as a family? What traditions are in place? Should we start some new ones? HOME is the firm foundation for successful home education. And even you feel not much education is going on: at least you are giving your children a gift beyond measure: home.

Tip #2 – Little Ones First (01-04-2020)

Helping older children with their work while little ones keep you perfectly distracted is very frustrating. That’s why it’s a good idea to spend time with your pre-schoolers first. We love reading together, but a game or some other activity with mom or dad is fine too. After about half an hour of filling their ‘love tanks’ with your kind attention, they are ready to play on their own; freeing you to help older ones. Personally I enjoy this way of starting the day very much: it’s easy, enjoyable and comes with great rewards.

Tip #3 – A schedule is good, a rhythm better (02-04-2020)

A timed schedule for the day looks very professional indeed … until real life kicks in and interruptions great and small mock your beautiful plans. We use a rhythm instead. A rhythm – or set order of activities – allows for structure and serendipity alike. As long as I don’t plan too many subjects things get done in a happy way. For example our mornings follow this rhythm: breakfast – reading aloud to young ones – maths – languages – sometimes science – lunch. Whatever gets done we consider a morning well spent. Happy planning everyone!

Tip #4 – We do the chores together! (03-04-2020)

For parents home education takes a lot of (extra) time. No problem though: the children can help! Teens can cook and clean well and even a toddler can help clear away the dishes. Having the children do (more) chores not only frees the parents to home educate, but also gives children a sense of responsibility and belonging. The children might grumble and complain a bit in the beginning, but with the necessary compliments for a job well done they are sure to grow into it. 😀

Tip #5 – You Don’t Have to be an Expert (06-04-2020)

‘Mom, when can I use a semicolon?’ or ‘Dad, how do I calculate the circumference of an ellipse?’ Please don’t panic: you don’t have to be an expert to home educate! Willingness to find the answers together is enough. In this day and age it is easy to find information about most anything online. Visit a book or website together or watch a video. Questions are a great opportunity to learn alongside your child and/or teach him or her research skills. After some practice your child will grow in confidence as she is able to find answers herself. Her attitude is sure to change from ‘No idea’ to ‘I’ll look it up!’ 🤓

Tip #6 – Make Use of the Concentration Peak (07-04-2020)

Much research has been done to discover the best time of day for learning tasks. For most of us the best time to concentrate deeply is in the morning around 10. Find out what subject requires most of your child’s attention and let him sit down to it around 10 am for the best results. If 10 am is a particularly unsuitable time, you can alternatively choose for one a half hour after lunch or supper, although our concentration peak is somewhat lower at those times of day. Happy studying!

Tip #7 – Read With and To Your Child (09-04-2020)

Reading is key to all further learning and paticipation in society. The ability to read is one of the most precious gifts you can give to your child. Therefore: read to your child, at least until he can read fluently himself (longer is allowed 😀). Enjoying books together whets your child’s appetite for reading, gives him a feel for language and builds his vocabulary. Secondly, have your beginning reader read to you daily – also at least until he reads fluently. Don’t be surprised if this takes long: 10 years or older is no exception for reading fluency. Reading together is one of the best investments in your child’s future.

Tip #8 – Grace and Mercy are the Winning Team (14-04-2020)

Home Educators need grace and mercy in abundance.
Home education means you spend a lot of time together as a family. You share moments of joy, but also of chagrin and frustration. Especially then words of grace are needed. Words that say: ‘You can try again, don’t worry if you don’t understand or if you take a long time to learn.’ Words that don’t compare and hurt, but instead forgive and give a second chance – over and over again. Words that communicate a deep and profound love for your child and patience to see him or her blossom.

This is what happens when someone puts ‘just a little to much’ soap in the dishwasher…

Tip #9 – Play! (15-04-2020)

Learning does not just happen sitting at a desk with a book and a notepad and pencil in hand. Learning happens in many different ways, amongst which is play. Play itself comes in many varieties: can be done in- or outside, can be physical or mental (even musical!), done alone or together and provides a good break from formal learning. Research shows that playing makes learning outcomes better. So, if you like your child to be a succesful learner: let him play!

Tip #10 – A Love for Learning (17-04-2020)

There seems to be no end to what can be learned. In the primary years we focus on reading, writing and arithmetic to use them later as tools for further studies. Once we gain an appetite for learning, the possibilities are manifold: we can learn a new hobby or game, taķe an online course, learn a language … Learning can be enjoyed by young and old, gives us healthy challenges and provides stimulation. So what would you like to learn – or teach your child – today?

Close Yet Far Away

Close Yet Far Away

Well, here we are. Finally back in the Netherlands. Furlough at last. Enjoying all the luxury and do things that are otherwise impossible. Going to the theater; cinema; visiting family and friends; giving presentations and sermons; to the swimmingpool; museums and so on. But no, instead of nice and relax conversations, we are mainly talking about the miserable pandemic caused by Covit-19 (SARS-CoV-2) or the Corona virus. A virus from a family which was not unknown, but in the past was only limited to the Asian regions.

How we feel? That is a regularly asked question. Well, disappointed of course! Sad too. Both Katja’s parents and mine (Jurgen) all are close to their 80s and are at risk because of their health. At the time of writing, they are doing well and we are grateful for that. But what a sad situation for so many others.

We, as a missionary family, are not unknown to the life style we have now. We live fairly isolated in Maroamboka and are therefore somewhat used to it. Homeschooling? Not new to us. Not just going to the supermarket for a small thing? Not strange either. Sitting in the house for days? This is the rule during the rainy season. No toilet paper? … We don’t even have that in Maroamboka.

But for many fellow Dutch nationals. A sense of panic, powerlessness and disillusionment. In Holland we were no longer used to this kind of life. Now what? Everything that was so common is no longer possible. Writing and reading messages on your smartphone all day long is getting boring as well. What if I get the virus too?

Nevertheless, we consider ourselves lucky that we are in the Netherlands at this moment. Things are well organised here. Health care is given top priority. The social safety net for victims can take many blows. If one gets sick, one can get the care one needs. We can also just go shopping and, if everyone behaves normally, there will be enough. Our Prime minister Rutte said: “There is enough [toilet paper], we can [all] poop for ten more years”. In otherwords: Behave!

Of course we follow the situation on Madagascar with sorrow and concern in our hearts. How different it is there! Social distance? Wow, have you ever been to the market in a random town. Or have you ever seen how people live? Most homes in large cities are not affordable, so the whole family lives in one room. There, in that room, they can sleep and shelter during the rain, but locked up together all day brings greater dangers than Corona. Everything and everybody is social in Madagascar. It is unfair to say that they should stop doing that for a while. That would be like banning private internet use in Europe or any other strong economy country for that matter. Let that idea sink in for a while.

Last night we read the press release from President Rajoelina. Many people think of him as a big crook. But now it seems that this crook takes Corona very seriously. 12 infected people are now known and all have been isolated. Unprecedented measures have been taken. The capital, Antananarivo, and the large port, Tamatave, are completely locked down. No public transport; health checkpoints; all small shops and markets closed; people are only allowed to shop in their own neighborhood (1 person per household); forbidden to go outside between 20:00 and 05:00; food prices have been frozen under penalty of a fine. President Rajoelina addresses the people every night. At 20:00 on the national channel, the Malagasy can stay informed about the current situation. Madagascar is no stranger to epidemics. Epidemics such as, the almost annual, outbreaks of the plague. Let’s pray that the government can also curb this epidemic.

Our heart goes out to the Malagasy. Because of the (often) bad conditions in which people live, even young people are vunerable. They look strong. They carry 50kg of rice on their shoulders. But one-sided nutrition and unhygienic homes plagued by rats and parasites are a recipe for a weak immune system. In addition, many Malagasy are simply terrified and have a very fatalistic attitude. Too often we hear it said by our Malagasy friends: “Well, that’s the way it is. The Malagasy just die quickly.” How it hurts us when they speak like that. How we would like to see them standing tall in life. That they would realise how much they can do to change their ‘fate’ themselves. And above all, that they would realise that the Almighty is not far away but has come to the world to save her. Saving from Corona? Saving from the plague? Possibly, but I’m more thinking about the boldness that comes with the confidence that Jesus saved you for eternity. Below, a quote from Martin Luther in a time when the plague went around Europe like a roaring lion, devouring who it could devour:

“I shall ask God mercifully to protect us. Then I shall fumigate, help purify the air, administer medicine and take it. I shall avoid places and persons where my presence is not needed in order not to become contaminated and thus perchance inflict and pollute others and so cause their death as a result of my negligence. If God should wish to take me He will surely find me and I have done what He has expected of me and so I am not responsible for either my own death or the death of others. If my neighbour needs me however I shall not avoid place or person I shall go freely as stated above. See this is such a God-fearing faith because it is neither brash nor foolhardy and does not tempt God.”

Luther’s Works; Vol. 43, pg. 132

Creepy Crawlers

Creepy Crawlers

At first we wanted to write a post about all the nice fruits we eat every day. A life to dream about. Fruit in abundance, sunshine, and a porch on which you can sit at sunset with a nice glass of wine. Mmmm, nope not really. Fruit, yes; sunshine, yes; and yes, also a porch. Romantic? No, unless you want to hide under a mosquito net.

We admit, we love the sunshine (if it is not too hot, that is). We enjoy the spacious porch for the children to play on. It becomes more bothering if you need to pay attention to all the bugs. During the day we have the tiger-mosquitoes and during the night the mosquitoes species which give you Malaria. Than, the spiders.

Nephilingis livida

At the moment our porch is home of a huge one. Her bite, we’ve been told, is just as painful as a sting of a scorpion (yes, we have those too). We have a love/hate relation with the spider. She keeps the mosquitoes and other flying stingy critters at bay.

Another annoying bug is the sand-flea (jigger). This bug crawls under your skin (literally) and lays it eggs there while feeding on your blood. The children all had their share and this time it was Jurgen’s turn. Two of these ‘cute’ creatures dug a nice hole in his little toe. The trick is to remove them completely with egg-sag still attached. Simple starting to dig in with a needle is a bad idea. Most likely the egg-sag will get damaged and will cause a mess. Slowly cutting open the skin around the sag works best. The first one on Jurgen’s toe came out as a whole, the second one tore open but still came out reasonably well. With the egg-sag still attached, the sand-flea could be studied under the mini-microscope. It gave the children a nice chance to see it up close. It was hard to get a focus as the sand-flea constantly tried to move away from the light.

To live here has its advantages when it come to learning or experiencing new stuff… Whether you always want to learn these things is a whole other matter.

For all of you who would like to see the animal we have a little video:

We have place some picture below.
Only scroll down if you don’t mind seeing blood!

Epoxy is your Friend

Epoxy is your Friend

Car trouble is bound to happen when you travel the roads of Madagascar with all the put holes and big bumbs.

We spend our Christmas and New Year in Mantasoa. A wonderful place in the area of Antananarivo… ‘only’ 16 hours drive from home. Naturally you check all the fluids in the car and whether all visible part are still tight. The car did just fine and we had a lovely holiday in Mantasoa.

Then, on our way back, 30 kilometres from the nearest town, the bar that holds the radiator broke. The radiator went down and with that hoses came loose. The bar had to be welded so we quickly continued our way to the garage. At least that was the plan. After a few hundred metre the clutch stopped working. The pipe with clutch fluid leaked and thus we didn’t have any pressure. After a long drive (since we only could drive in third gear) we arrived at the garage. Repair, in between heavy showers of rain, took 4 hours.

On our way again and finally after 15 hours we reached our favourite stopover, Ranomafana. Just a short break of a few days among some nice people is lovely. I wish! The radiator started leaking again. This time we do the repairs ourselves. Epoxy-glue is your friend when you own a car on Madagascar.

I decided to see it as a hobby… That way it is less annoying. Also, it gives an opportunity to learn the traits of mechanics which is useful for a missionary. Likewise, plumber, electrician, carpenter, road worker and what not.

Trip to Maroamboka

Trip to Maroamboka

A week ago Jurgen and Issa travelled to Maroamboka to pay a visit to the building site of our house. Maroamboka is situated just 5km from Sandrohy.


We wanted to visit the side earlier but putting all the car papers in our name took much longer than anticipated. Finally, we received all the papers… that is to say, the temporary papers. Hopefully he official papers will be ready at the end of December 2016. Jurgen’s Malagasy drivers licence is a whole different story. To get the official licence we need a visa that has to be still six months valid. This is not so straightforward as it might sound. When we apply for a visa (for the new year) we receive a paper that says that we have applied. With this paper we can travel but it is not the same as the official visa. Still, the validity of the visa starts as soon as we apply. In other words, if we receive the official visa after 4 months it will only be valid for eight more months. Our hope is that we will get our visa in time to transform the temporary licence to a permanent one.


Slowly but surely the car is equipped with the necessities to deal with the hard conditions in which we are going to use it. One of the changes is a big roofrack (2,30 bij 1,20). Local metalworkers worked hard to make us a strong one. We are very happy with the rack as this gives us the possibility to move our belongings in and out of the area.

Jurgen used the visit to move many of our furniture. On the roof we transported a heavy cupboard together with two small tables. In the car we stacked our chairs and kitchen appliance. Jurgen and Issa left on the 11th of December at about 5 in the morning. After only 45 minutes a police officer stopped them. The load on the roof was no problem but apparently Jurgen needed a permit for the load in the car. Luckily Jurgen managed to persuade the officer to write him a permit on the spot. So, with all the right papers they could continue their trip.

Bad Roads

The national roads on Madagascar look very much like Dutch cheese with holes. This makes travelling very tiresome. At noon Issa and Jurgen arrived in a place called Abohimahasoa. There they stopped to spend the night in a hotel. The next day they travelled the second part. Near Ifanadiana one of the tires went flat, a piece of wood stuck right through. Fortunately help was not far. Jurgen stopped the car near one of the many police checkpoints and asked one of the officers for help. The officer first had to put his AK47 aside and then he stopped a lorry. He told the driver that the foreigners needed help. The lorry driver, together with a local, changed the wheel and said that there was no need for Jurgen to get his hands dirty. A few miles further the tire was repaired in Ifanadiana for about € 1,70.


It is not hard to hear the car coming. The people of Sandrohy al ready waited at the side of the road. The children sheered and clapped their hands and the adults came to shake hands. After some brief chats the trip continued to Maroamboka, about five kilometres from Sandrohy. This road was a good test for the car. Deep gullies, big rocks and steep climbs (sometimes 35% and more).

Passing through the last curve the house became visible. Quickly the local people ran towards the car to greet Jurgen and Issa. The car could be parked next to the house of our contact person. After the inspection of the car by all the ‘experts they started to unload the car, which didn’t took long with all the extra hands.


The House

We were already informed about the fact that the builders didn’t fully followed the drawings. Our drawings where way to modest. The house will be bigger because, according to the builder, we need enough space for all our children. On the ground floor we will have a bedroom and a combination of a living room with a kitchen. Going up the stairs we find ourselves on the first floor with a corridor and two more bedrooms for the children. Outside is a separate place to wash ourselves and about 15 metres further the builders dug a toilet. The house is situated next to a water-well with clean water. Most of the time there is enough pressure to install some plumbing. This is something the builder will look at. However, during Jurgen’s and Issa’s visit the well didn’t give much water due to a lack of rain. We will have to see whether we can solve this with a water reservoir that can collect and store rainwater. The house is mainly built of wood from the nearby rainforest. We will have, however, a tin roof and the ground floor is made of cement. The traditional houses have a leaf roof and a wooden or mud floor. This is a set up for trouble during the rainy season. Coming month we will look for a solar panel system. Solar panels are more common as many have a little system to recharge phones and the like.


During the two days, Jurgen and Issa visited three villages. The mpanjakas (kings) of two villages where absent. Jurgen brought the promised photos from our last visit and left it together with his greetings for the mpanjaka. The mpanjaka of the last village was present and he welcomed Jurgen and Issa into his house. It was a good meeting in which the mpanjaka did his utmost to understand Jurgen’s official Malagasy. The conversation was relaxed and amusing—especially when Jurgen started to pronounce the differences in several Malagasy dialects. The mpanjaka said that he was very happy to hear Jurgen’s progress in the language.

Meanwhile, Jurgen and Issa are back in Antananarivo. The came back with a lot of fruit given by the locals. We are planning another trip to Maroamboka soon. We will have to bring more furniture and other things like our bed and school material for the children. The builder estimated that we can move as a family somewhere in January 2017.

We are excited! Finally, after months of preparation, we are going to live among the Tanala.

Photo Gallery Baby

Photo Gallery Baby

We had to wait 4 years on his arrival, but he has finally made it: Simeon! He was born on 29 July at 01:20 am in hospital. He weighed 3810 grammes and measured about 51 cm. It all went rather quickly: labour started at 10:49 pm, the arrival in hospital was at 00:30 am and three quarters of an hour later Simeon had safely found his way into this world. We feel very rich. Again we are amazed about 10 little toes and 10 little fingers. How small and fragile life begins!

A Cozy Little Cottage

A Cozy Little Cottage

On the third of October we moved from West Farm Cottage in England to a little cottage in Holland. The journey took us about 20 hours. The first few days were spent unpacking boxes, but now we have settled into our nice little cottage. The cottage, which used to be a pigsty, belongs to Katja’s mother who moved to the old farmhouse three years ago. The children have quite some room to play, and the ducks have found their way to granny’s pond.

Since last week the children’s lessons have been resumed. All goes well, although it is not an easy transition for us. We miss England and our friends there, and we have not returned to the Netherlands to stay. We all realise we are only here temporarily.

Please pray for our family as we settle back into Holland, especially for peace as we seek to trust the Lord to unfold His plan with our lives