Out of Africa - An Ode to a Land So Different

Tripoto
16th Jul 2016
Photo of Out of Africa - An Ode to a Land So Different 1/32 by Anuj Tikku

The last time I came to Mauritius and took part in deep sea diving, I went back home to New Delhi to decompress, perhaps, from the sights and sounds of a new adventure and another milestone on my journeys. This time though, I was taking in Madagascar. I knew I just had to push further and see more of this continent. It was as if Africa was welcoming me with its open arms.

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The Town of Antsirabe
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Picturesque Town - Afrique!

Perhaps it was the homecoming of its prodigal son. I had spent over 15 years in the bosom of Africa when my father had worked in Nigeria. I had gone to school at Lagos and had holidayed during my childhood at Kenya and Ethiopia. Africa was in my blood and I learned to swim here at the tender age of 6 whilst catching the waves of the Pacific Ocean. This rich land of culture and natural resources are yet so impoverished.

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Me - fat and ugly in a land of the skinny and malnourished - looking back and laughing!

This dichotomy is what I wanted to explore further and see why a land so ancient and so deep in its ethnic and cultural diversity has not yet taken wings and most of its people still become victim to poverty, hunger and disease. A land so fertile in minerals, soil, rivers and waterfalls. A land of wild animals and beasts so beautiful. A land of such natural beauty but hampered as it remains weak and impoverished.

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But as for now, other thoughts were swarming my mind and I planned to move ahead like an explorer in the 21st century. I decided to cover five more countries namely Kenya, Mozambique, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe while at it! I took Londry with me and started my bookings in a contiguous journey on Kenya Airways and all for US $ 3000. I was pleasantly amazed how soon I had all my tickets and all that I needed were the e-visa for Zimbabwe and Zambia which I initiated on my computer.

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In an hour, we were driving out of Antananarivo toward Antsirabe where we planned to see the volcanic lakes. The ride was breezy and I kept stopping the car to take pictures of the most beautiful countryside of this nation - mountains, hillocks , farms , canals , rivers, ponds and the people. At sunset, the sun was as if it burst into flames of orange, yellow, pink and purple.

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A Fiery Sunset - a leading light no less!
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I took some amazing shots of this and was very excited by my journey ahead. There was a sense of positivity and unbefuddled euphoria within me. Once into the exotic town of Antsirabe, I meandered aimlessly inclined to discover the city of Antsirabe.

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I saw it’s age old railway station and, of course, the town post office which I found interesting in its shape and wall colours used. We drove down duty lanes through a farm land to finally arrive at the Tritriva Lake.

A group of street kids selling various artefacts befriended me and took me down the narrow mountain goat path and right down to this exotic volcanic lake. We walked down singing and dancing and I tried to learn Malagasy from the kids and they in turn, tried to learn English from me!

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Colourful, delightful and African - even a neat little hand pulled rickshaw - never thought they had it anyplace else except Asia and India!

Finally, I saw it - the green lake. I plunged into it but it was icy cold. I swam and swam till the other end of the rock feeling like some kind of a Neptune! Londry, my latest African aide de camp, took pictures on our way back as we saw some brave souls trying to do a zip tie over the lake. Knowing fairly well where I fell on the weight category, I knew I should not try this! Uphill was even more exhausting as the climb was steep. At the end, I thanked the kids as I gulped a bottle of mineral water. We then drove to Andraikiba lake to watch another spectacle - a cock fight as my guy informed me!

It was crazy near the banks of the river as we walked into a ring of cock fighters and, yes, fighting with cocks is a regular sport here and people gamble on their favourite cocks. The ring is made in the middle and the cock that pushes the other one out of the ring wins which is very much like an avian Sumo wrestling match, mind you! These are mean cocks, tall, fat and fully fathered with huge beaks and necks.

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Fighter Cocks- they love nothing more than killing each other !
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There were two rings and a maddening crowd of hundreds of fans cheering and praying for their cock to win. It was interesting to watch and my first experience of a live organised cock fight. The cocks meanwhile did not have it good as any pugilist does not. Beautiful creatures but to man's sad wantonness for violence lost and often bleeding at times and were often drenched in water like two wild boxers. It was an experience. Not all good - but a wonderment how we aim for the lowest!

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Originally posted on TikkusTravelthon.in

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