January 10, 2005

Nose Be and Hell Ville

Nose Be is a little island just off the coast of North-West Madagascar. It is very much under-developed with most of the inhabitants living in one room shacks made with palm tree leaves and bark. The shacks are illuminated at night with a lone candle in the middle of the room which makes the walls glow cutting the darkness of the night. Of course, we stayed in a prime Italian resort, kept the light on all night, rented scubas and ate to our hearts content. Ah the hypocrisy of International Development work!

The main city of Nosy Be is called Hell Ville. No joke. I think that it was named after a French officer (keep your snarky comments to yourself, thank you very much). There are still remnants of French colonialism: old canons, gutted column buildings, large decrepit mansions and lots and lots of aggressive salespersons selling embroidered tablecloths and minutely carved model ships.

This little boy sold us some home-made granola bars.

Girls practice the traditional Nose Be face painting on each other.

One can also fill a one-gallon large plastic bottle with white or dark rhum distilled locally. I tasted about a finger’s worth of the stuff and felt drunk all day.

Throughout the country, the delectable main dish consists of Zebu (a humped animal much like a skinny-cow with a floppy fin), chicken and pork. A vegetarian’s dream.

Boats make the early trip from remote parts of the island to bring souvenirs to tourists or seafood to restaurants.

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