Down and Ups.
Had a disappointing evening yesterday. I had agreed to go to a performance of Faure's Requiem at the Protestant Temple with Pal who explained to me how to get there. It started at 7 pm so I left my hotel at 5.50 for what I thought was a 20 minute walk; it was supposed to be near the church I go to. Got to the church at 6 and walked down the road opposite, where the performance was supposed to be. Long story short, couldn't find it despite asking 3 locals where the Protestant Temple was. None of them, including a young lady who spoke English, had a clue. Walked back down the road and, as I never carry a phone, back to my hotel. Phoned Pal at 6.55 who told me to take a taxi and I could still make it. Walked to the taxi stand but the driver had no idea where I was talking about. Phoned Pal and it took about 3 minutes to get an understanding.
"OK, the price."
"4.000Ar" I opened the bidding.
"It is up a very steep hill. 15,000."
Now many people here, including everyone in the market, still use Franc Malagase (fmg) because Ariary were only introduced in 2007. There are 5 fmg to the ariary.
15,000 was a ridiculous amount and I thought he was taking the Michael because I am a foreigner so I said "Franc Malagase?" He was not impressed and started shouting at me. I don't like being shouted at so I wasn't at that point going to change my offer and walked off. Not an expertly handled situation. He lost a customer, I didn't get to the performance. Silly. I phoned Pal at 7.05 and left a message because his phone was switched off and went home grumpy
This morning I phoned Pal to explain. He was fine and apologised that he did not call back because he had no credit. He also said that there is another performance tomorrow at 3pm so this time I will take my phone and find him. So I will get to see/hear it which is very good news.
Oddbox: Trains run very rarely from the very grand station in Tana, only for excursions, but it is used for exhibitions, corporate days etc. As I may have demonstrated by actions and words 90% of the beer consumed in Tana is THB, a Belgian beer made here under license. That market dominance is being challenged by the launch of a new beer at the station today. The name of that "upmarket" challenger................
wait for it...........................Skol! I could not believe it but will go down there this afternoon to check it out.
Even better news is that next Saturday the Tana Tourist Office (Ortana) is organising an 'Escapade avec Trains Lemurie': a train trip out of the station (which is a very impressive, imposing piece of 19th century French architecture) to Anjeva (no idea where that may be but it takes an hour to get there by train). Once there, you trek up Mount Fandana, have a picnic (which you bring yourself), see the wild lemurs, walk through 3 villages and return to catch the train back. The day starts with an 8 a.m. departure and returns to Tana at 4 p.m. They describe it is a 7km trek over 3 hours with a climb of 300m so I can certainly manage that. For 20,000Ar (under £7) you get the train trip, a guided walk, a bottle of water and insurance. Not too shabby. What a great day. I bought my ticket (Wagon1, Groupe B) this morning. Really looking forward to it. Glad I brought my father's binoculars ('jumelles' in French apparently); shame about the camera.