We were lucky enough to meet a bunch of schoolgirls who are kind enough to show us around when we were lost. They were on their way to the church for Sunday mass and told us that they are going the same direction. Along the way, they try to chat with us with their limited English and said how much they like to improve their English by chatting with the tourists. In the end they asked for our Facebook, which kind of surprised me in a way – how Mark Zuckerberg successfully expanded his business to the rural area.
The girls introduced us to their friend, “He will show you around the area!” That’s what they said. We assumed we fell into some tourist trap, but it’s okay. We don’t really mind helping those young kids. Our young tour guide is super posy in front of the camera and tells us a lot about Tana. He said to me before I took this picture, “Let me pose first.”
This tree is scattered around the palace area. He said it’s the sacred tree of the country because the shape of the leaf is the same of the country and it cures all kinds of illness. He pointed to us and said the Queen Palace is one of the UNESCO site and it just right in front of us now. After more than 5 hours of walking, we are finally here.
We walked from the bottom of the hill, the building next to the lake. The Palace is build on top of the highest hill of Antananarivo and overlooking the whole city. When we reached to the top, only we realized that the Palace is not open for visiting today. We can only view it over the gate, so we can only walk around the area.
There’s engrave on the walls around the palace. It shows the life of a Madagascan, their beliefs and rituals.
After much disappointment of the palace’s closure, our warm tour guide said he will show us around the palace and tell us the place where only locals know about. He brought us to the small stall selling sodas and snacks next to the palace and said he wants to buy us drinks. We insisted to pay and the lady owner is so happy to be on the camera.
He showed us more observatory deck, but it started to get repetitive as the view is the same. We spent some time walking around the hilltop and he brought us to some local areas at the back of the hill instead. That’s when we saw the difference of the city.
This is where they stayed, where the roof is barely secured by few rocks and no electric or clean water supply. And this is not the only house, there’s a lot of it around the area.
We were feeling bad, gave some money to the increasing amount of tour guides (from one to three in the end) and decided to end the tour for today. However, this little boy has been following us around the palace area, and he were saying something that we don’t understand. The guides were saying he is trying to get the soda glass bottles from us so he can sell it back to the stall and get some money. They were warning us don’t give money to the kids else more kids will come get the same from us. We handed him our bottles, and he happily skipping away from us. He can only get less than 50 cents from selling off the bottles, but I wondering how long can the money lasted, can it save his family or provide them some meals? Will he ended up without education because of the poverty or he might be able to feed his family with the bottles? At least he’s not stealing, and earning it using his effort. At that moment, I’m feeling blessed with the things I got for granted, educations, food, money, electricity, life basically. I’m truly blessed.
We ended our tour and took a taxi back to the hotel. We never screamed so much in our life as the taxi is without a door, and with five proper adults stuffed in it. The way down the hill is exciting yet terrifying, but the driver was smiling at us. I had too much surprises in a day, not to mention I learnt so much from the locals, a good sleep is well needed for tomorrow’s zoo trip.