Sunday, August 1, 2010
Well, here we are in Antananarivo, the capital of Madagascar getting ready for 2 weeks in the Vakinankaratra. It's been 5 years since we were here, and superficially little seems to have changed. However, as friends and colleagues keep reminding us, Madagascar is now governed by "pirates" since last year's coup. The new president (a "DJ" who likes the nightclubbing lifestyle apparently) has certainly made some cosmestic changes (the nightclubs are well upgraded), and the park in the lower town now has swings, big wheel, fairground rides and a Batman bouncy castle/batcave. And the Queen's Palace (19th century, burnt down 1995) now has a roof again (see picture, and note the Hollywood-style city signage on the hillface).
That said, there are a number of more "adult" developments. Asian massage joints and karaoke bars have appeared to cater for the growing number of (largely French) sex tourism types. There is a massive red ribbon HIV monument on one of the roads out of town, as if anyone takes any notice...
Anyway, tomorrow we head into "the field" for a couple of weeks to survey and excavate (small-scale) at some serious hilltop ditched sites (historical periods, 16th-19th century hillfort-type sites), and 19th century standing stones (watch out for the those inevitable European Neolithic comparisons, folks....).
I'll post more when we get back.