A reddish brown road, surrounded by bushes with purple flowers. Below in the valley, the reed and rice fields slowly wind upwards to the hills. There in the distance the lavaka’s, big erosion gullies, flame red. Nearby there are some banana trees and a row of palm trees. A little boy is herding his geese. Chicks are scrabbling on the path. This is the road that we take from our house to the village for shopping. We came here a week ago. The driver of the project picked us up in Tana. After the exit from the route nationale, we took a road that turned from tarmac via cobblestones to a dirt road on which we bumped for another 3 hours. With that, we were in Ambatondrazaka, the big city in this region. Since our last stay here, the whole region has disappeared from the Lonely Planet, saying it is no longer attractive for visitors among others because of the bad access.
We were here before, and lived in the city itself. This time, the project that Freddy works with is in another place. Because their house for interns had space, we decided to go and live here. By car, that is another half hour from town. So we are now at the countryside of the countryside.
Our housemates are two French students, also a couple. More interns and the employees of the project are living down the road. It has rained quite heavy a few times, and we expected a lot more of that because the rain season should start now. Freddy is busy writing reports and has had a field visit. Al our communication is in French here, except of course when we can use our ‘Gasy’ vocabulary. Both these languages needed some exercise, but we are making progress. In the time before us, we are going to enjoy country life, and find out what ideas it will give us.