Tulear (Toliara)

"The white city"

Tulear, Madagascar

L'The Bird-Rock of the One Thousand and One Nights has existed elsewhere than in fairy tales! It was in 1868 that Alfred Grandidier discovered the first fossil deposit in a pond in Ambohisatrana near Tuléar in Madagascar. "I entered it, and, bending down, felt the bottom where, feeling an object, I took it, and washed it, I saw with surprise and joy that it was a bone as big as my thigh! Excited, with a few of my men we began to search the mud lining the bottom of the pond, and removed several other bones from the colossal bird, this Aepyornis, which was still known only by its eggs with a capacity of eight liters and some indeterminable debris... "

Great South of all surprises where the tears of vocal Beko strangely remind the blues of some distant Alabama ... The purity of the atmosphere is translated here by the starry nights certainly the most beautiful that can be admired. And we already understand a little better the nickname "Tsy Miroro" (which never sleeps) given to Tulear. The "White City", another qualifier, likes nights of the same color, she who is already spending her days sleeping under a relentless sun. All occasions are pretexts to joy especially as they are rare. Even over there, among the Vezo of Anketrake, the "Savatse" collective circumcision that gathers hundreds of children lasts 4 days in an uninterrupted succession of "jihe" (dances) and folk songs around the sacred Hazomanga.

Tulear, Madagascar

Great South of all the discoveries, above all of a vegetation of no other similarity which had the gift of terrifying the travelers of past ages. All kinds of graminaceous plants, octopus trees or candle-trees, which raise their gaunt candelabra to the sky, caustic latex arborescent euphorbia, puffy bottle-shaped baobabs... Describing the vontaka, Robert Drury spoke of "a tree or A plant, I do not know how to designate it, which resembles a keel, and surmount two or three important branches of very long leaves, the bark is whitish, the color of lead oxidized by the air. Lyautey, everyone military he was, was not the most serene! "A thicket of fantastic shrubs, the rahondra or the sausage tree, the famata where every leaf is replaced by something like a pickle... It's horrifying, all these branches surround you, threaten you like tentacles. A beautiful red flower blooms, engaging, you touch it, it hurts you. A hypocritical tree rests your eye, with a benign air of weeping willow. This time it is a sheet, of this pale silver that reflect the ponds of our country, do not touch it, it is bristling with thorns!".

Tulear, Madagascar

Country of the sea, with one of the longest coral reefs in the world extending over 200 miles from Andavadoaka in Southeast to Itampolo in the Great South. Practically halfway between these two villages, Tulear is the ideal bridgehead for the discovery of a prodigal coastline of exceptional sites. Who will choose the South will hardly resist the authentic beauty of Anakao, "capital" of the Vezo, less than 2 hours on speedboat. The landing is already a whole program with a shuttle to the shore carried out in... zebu cart! The fishermen's camp is to the south near the small village of Anakao Ambany which succeeds the rather rare performance of owning 5 churches. The islet of Nosy Ve, opposite the site, is home to the only red-billed tropic birds colony in Madagascar and is a sacred place for the Vezo Sarà who have been performing rituals since time immemorial. Even the humpback whales know the place, and come to frolic in their annual migrations. From Tulear to the north, this "road" the end of the world which is the RN9 has nothing to envy the great routes of African rallies. With the difference that the greenery is never totally absent, and that traffic is relatively supplied with trucks acting as public transport, zebu carts and goat herds. And it is especially the road leading to Ifaty, one of the most beautiful seaside resorts on the island. After such a fihter course, to walk in its waters is like receiving a trophy deserved...

Even tombs are hymns to life. They can be real mausoleums painted in bright colors from which all sadness is banished. On funeral poles are carved the personality or favorite pastime of the deceased, whether cyclist, gendarme, domino enthusiast, or that he has a memorable time taken the plane. They seem to perpetuate the vital flux. Understand who can and that the party continues. For eternity.

Text: Thompson Andriamanoro
Photos Pierre-Yves Babelon
Thanks to Ankasy Lodge, Salary Bay, Lakana Vezo, L'Escapade

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