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July 24, 2003

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The national carrier, Air Mad, ferries people around the country for fairly cheap rates - $150 buys a ticket anywhere in the island from the capital. Rather than waste days crawling along dirt roads, we buy a pair of airplane tickets and ride "Air Mad" to the island's southernmost tip. Here we find a small town, barely more than a village, called Taolagnaro. This is where European sailors first touched Madagascar. Portugese sailors shipwrecked in 1506 and lived for 20 years before being killed by natives. A hundred or so years later the French tried their first colonizing effort (which ended in failure after 30 years) and then in the 1650's the French returned again, this time for good (although they were not 'officially' recognized as sovereigns of the country until a treaty with the British in 1890). They built a fort on the end of the island which is still here today - Fort Dauphin.
Shipwreck beach.
Madagascar excels at producing kids - the average family size must be at least 7 children and over half the country is under 14 years old. Kids hound our steps.
Hang a fish on your door as an advertisement.
Madagascar's Army - very laid back. Never before saw flip flops as part of a uniform.