Yaourt fait à la maison
When I arrived at the Hotel Jacaranda, a popular hotel among backpackers and the home-base of WWF volunteer missions, I was greeted by a member of my future WWF team, Santatra, who happens to be a student at the University of Tananarive. My first experiences in Tana are thanks to him and his hospitality. To sate my hunger after my long journey, he took me to his Aunt’s house for sweet tea and my first (of many) mofogasy, a delicious rice donut in sweet, salty, and sweet and salty versions. After many trials, I have yet to taste a better mofogasy than at chez Santatra.
I also received a rather ominous welcome to Tana by an apocalyptic-sized swarm of flying locusts. The black cloud drew attention from almost everyone in the street, although most people seemed to be simply curious and even amused, not at all panicked, as the giant insects dropped from the sky. I watched the locusts, which were each as big as my hand, float down to street level from inside the taxi brousse that Santatra and I had just jumped into. Along the street, laughing children scooped up several at a time with cans and plastic bottles. Luckily, we had closed all the windows of the van to avoid having any extra “passengers.”
Brushing off this plague of Biblical proportion, Santatra brought me to the WWF Madagascar Office to introduce me to the staff, and we then went for some “yaourt fait à la maison” (home-made yoghurt) as recommended by our program coordinator in order to get some friendly bacteria in my stomach. Little did I know that this would mean stopping at a roadside stand to be handed a stainless steel spoon and plastic cup of yoghurt to be eaten on the spot and immediately returned to the vendor. Putting aside any concerns of hygiene, I was pleasantly surprised at the tangy taste not at all like the store-bought version. Now I eat home-made yoghurt almost every day.
Alexa Markel (Madagascar 2014)