Homeland part 2

Thursday, 6th of August

We’re traveling by van to the southwest. My wife admires the landscape of the rice fields. As an agricultural engineer she’s amazed by the high-quality farmland. Thinking out loud, she comments on the amount of work, attentive and patient, the endless hours that are put into the rice terraces. On the way we meet people, a lot of people, who walk to the fields and back home, going to sell their goods on the market and returning back home. She names Madagascar – The land of people who walk. She herself highly values hiking. In her eyes it’s the joy of motion, the primary shape of happiness. I simply listen to her enthusiastic thoughts.

On this road towards the southwest, about 500km from the capital city, we begin to find vast herds of cattle. As a principle we have to stop and let them pass. Along the cattle are shepherds. My wife and kids are quite excited by the proceedings. Slowly but surely the cattle moves right past our windows. There are many herds and each and every one of them are in the hundreds. I explain to them that livestock is quite traditional in the southwest. The cattle which isn’t neither the milk or meat breed is more of a status symbol and holds exchange value. Because of this the leather industry is quite predominant in island of Madagascar.

Saturday, 15th of August

We are travelling towards the eastern shore by van. Almost 600km separate the capital city of Tananarive to the biggest port in the east, Tamatave. The road rises and falls along the hilly landscape, most of which is desolate of forests, a complete wasteland. No sings of the jungle that not even 100 years ago covered the area. Practically, the only other vehicles that we meet on the road are large trucks, filled with massive timber logs. “Where are they driving from” wonders my wife “it’s all barren”. “Most likely from inside the island” I contemplate. “I was studying the map of Madagascar back in the capital city and in this part along the east coast there was still a big portion of the rainforest” tells my wife. However, all the way to the shore we don’t see any signs of it. The whole journey we only see barren, deforested hills scream silently. “They say that the leading reason for the disappearance of the jungle is the traditional slash-and-burn farming. There aren’t even any villages here, no farmers” ponders my wife. I stay silent. After years and years of living abroad, listening to the falsehoods about my native island hurt too much. As if nothing else but poverty and corruption exist on Madagascar, only negative news. I’m heartbroken and sometimes I quite frankly give up hope.