Sometimes understatement is so understated as to constitute criminal misrepresentation. Such is the case with Tamatave. The guide book I was lent described it as having “an air of shabby elegance”.
A port, a former slave trading centre, and the 2nd largest town in Madagascar, the elegance is not just shabby, but apocalyptically shabby. What appears to have happened is that it was a nice boulevarded colonial port a century ago, but it has suffered a biblical rain for the last hundred years.
On the first evening as I walked to the beach-front for the holiday festival the first two working girls I saw were missing their front teeth; a small sample to be sure but a worrying omen nevertheless.
Even the overseas Chinese well-known for their business-like persistence, here just run their shops as best they can.