The Madagascar I Love
If you are planning a trip to Madagascar and in need of some preparation beforehand on what to expect, buy this book. Not the typical travel guide book but it will enlighten you nonetheless. It tells the true story of a Polish traveller who made his way to Madagascar in the late 1930’s when travelling was still very much a luxury, and who lived amongst the tribes people, engaging in their customs and cultures with hilarious consequences. Told in several short chapters and supported with beautiful pictures of his adventure, it will definitely inspire you to visit this country and experience his adventure for yourself.
"A newcomer from Europe arriving in Madagascar usually lands at Majunga, on the northwest coast of the island. There are many odd sights in this tropical port to enthrall the keen eyes and young heart of the visitor. He admires the shadowy mango-trees, the baobabs as old as the world, a most glorious sky, bungalows peeping through clusters of purple bougainvilleas. But most exciting of all are the people. Of course, he has heard much about them, he is prepared for them, yet all the same he cannot help being delighted by the medley of costumes, of types and races which greet him.
Majunga being a gay port, the newcomer soon catches the infectious mood of gaiety and unreserve.
“This lovely girl is Chinese, surely!” he cries to a friend long settled in Madagascar, who has called for him at the port.
“No, she is not Chinese, but a Malagasy of the Hova tribe from the interior of the island. The Hovas are supposed to have come from Java, and some of them, as you can see for yourself, have preserved the Javanese type till now.”
The young Hova girl carries her eastern beauty with an incomparable charm. Looking at her, the European is reminded of delicate paintings on porcelain. She is attractive, has a slender, perfectly formed figure, a pleasant face and a strangely light complexion. She looks almost like a sunburnt European girl—a European of exotic beauty.
She passes the two white men proudly, deigning them only a fleeting glance and a shy smile.
The European is nonplussed, unable to understand her enigmatic smile: is it a rebuke or an invitation, is it contempt or coquetry? He cannot make up his mind.
“Proud creature!” he decides.
His friend brushes this remark aside:
“It is always the same with us white men,” he says, “and it always will be. If we can't understand something straightaway, then we are puzzled ... But perhaps you're right in calling this girl proud. She has good enough reason to be: the Hovas were until recently the rulers of Madagascar and gave the island a number of famous queens...”
- Arkady P. Fiedler, July 2012
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