Listening for the Alien Heartbeat

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.

Tamatave - muddy street
One of the “shabbily elegant” buildings opposite my hotel and the Ministry of Finance, in one of the best parts of town.

Tamatave - house opposite finance ministry
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.

Tamatave - chinese building


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