Monday, March 24, 2008

Day 44 – In the search of pirates and vanilla

Today we drove north along the coast, in the search of pirate forts and vanilla. We found none, because the trip was sadly interrupted by a collapsed bridge. The bridge collapsed a couple of years ago, so in the meantime the road folks had cobbled together a pontoon bridge that had partially sunk. I have great confidence on Le Petit Brav, but this seemed ridiculous so we turned back.
Madagascar was a hot spot for piracy in the 1800’s because the Aghulas current, which the Indiamen followed to turn the cape, hugs its eastern coast. Unfortunately little is left in the form of archaeologic remains, so I had to be content on knowing that I had visited the region, and the famous port of Tamatave (also known as Tomasina). Regarding vanilla, the French imported it from Mexico in the mid 1800’s, and made quite an industry of it (to this date, Madagascar is the second largest producer of vanilla in the world. So Mexico gave to Madagascar three important things: Vanilla, rum, and soap operas! No wonder everyone likes Mexicans :)

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