Diego Suarez (Antsiranana)

"The 2nd largest bay in the world"

Of the Malagasy cities with Lusitanian patronym one will never find one and it is all up there in the north. A first tradition speaks of two sailors, Diogo Diaz and Admiral Suarez, who allegedly dropped anchor in his harbor six years interval at the beginning of the 16th century. Two pebbles at the entrance to the lagoon of the Emerald Sea always bear their names. Gaspar Correa in his Lendas da India relates for his part the journey of a certain Diego Soares sent in 1543 from Cochin by the twelfth governor of India Martin Alfonso de Souza. Three "godfathers", all not recommendable, which Diego-Suarez got rid of by finding his Malagasy name of Antsiranana. But nothing will happen, because Diego will always be Diego... The city with the very strategic situation swung into the turmoil of World War II with the murderous clashes between the colonial authorities of Petainist obedience and the British forces. In the well-kept English cemetery, 300 graves of English, African, and Indian soldiers who have be killed in these May 1942 days.

Diego Suarez, Madagascar

Strange map as the one drawn for this city looking inward looking, without a corniche road while it has one of the most beautiful bays in the world! It does not really matter, since Diego is above all a unique atmosphere, and it is necessary to learn so much: let the "khat" chewers in a ball in their cheeks during the hours of burning torpor, rub shoulders in some corner of the sidewalk the consumers "Sabeda", a kind of rice soup accompanied by skewers and roasted green mangoes, melting amongst the elegant Sakalava, the Yemeni who arrived from somewhere no longer know and when, the Comorians in fez and slippers in the popular district of Tanambao, do not especially hurry in the sweetness of a late afternoon... The city also knows how not to resuscitate times that are no longer with the colonnades of Rue Colbert , The ghost of the Hotel de la Marine, invaded by vegetation, the Place Clémenceau, where people were getting drunk on the eve of July 14th, that of Admiral Ronarch, at the foot of the statue of marshal Joffre, Which allows the view to vader further than the container lines, further than the cranes, further than the city...

The Sugarloaf of Diego Suarez, Madagascar

Further, it is the immensity of the Bay with the perfect cone of its Sugar Loaf, of which one operator regrets that it is not sufficiently exploited. These are the heights of the Mountain of the French with its Way of the Cross and the notch of the cave of Anosiravo. These are Orangea and Ramena, the favorite beaches of city dwellers for successful weekends. It is Windsor Castle whose panorama goes as far as Cap d'Ambre in the North, the foothills of the Mountain of the same name and its National Park in the South... These are sites that are still partly in the future, the Emerald Sea, well-known of dilettante, recently discovered only by the great champions of windsurf as being one of the best spots of windsurf and kitesurf in the world. Here are names that make reference such as the double world freestyle champion Ricardo Campello, the only African pro Boujmaa Guilloul of Morocco, or the Venezuelan Diony Guadagnino. And well, this may be the Paradise Archipelago of Nosy Hara between the capes Anorintany and Vohilava.

The beach of Ramena in Diego Suarez, Madagascar

Some of its islands, virgins of all human presence, are true sanctuaries of highly protected faunistic species. Others have initiated a well-marked opening to tourism, such as Anjombavola and Andatsara whose steep cliffs have everything to conquer the climbing enthusiasts. The latter is equipped with tents and "rooms", arranged in the cavities of the rocks!

Thus lives and goes Diégo-Suarez where, according to the accounts of Daniel Defoe, the French pirate Olivier Misson and his comrade the Italian monk Caraccioli founded at the end of the 17th century Libertalia, an utopian republic where good and repentant could live free and equal. Their wooden town, protected by two batteries of 40 guns, had been built with the help of 300 men lent by the Queen of Anjouan. The no less famous pirate Tomas Tew ended up to joined them, falling under the motto "A Deo A Libertate" (by God and Freedom). A current born in the 1980s to which the critic Michel-Christian Camus belongs has unfortunately demonstrated that Misson and his work had in fact never existed...

Text: Thompson Andriamanoro
Photos Pierre-Yves Babelon
Thanks to Grand Hotel Diego, Babaomby Island Lodge, Evasion Sans Frontière

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