An overnight stay in the “Couleur Cafe”:https://www.couleurcafeantsirabe.com/ in Antsirabe, Madagascar was necessary to break up a long road journey and, whilst we knew it would be brief, it turned out to be briefer than anticipated.
Despite setting off from Morondava at 5am, on what was described as ‘roads few tourists see’, we quickly caught up with a convoy of 150 mini-buses carrying worshipers returning to Antsirabe after a weekend’s pilgrimage in Morondava. The road was poor, and when we slowed to negotiate a single-track bridge, the mini bus behind didn’t. We spent two-hours at the roadside, surrounded by mango sellers who appeared from nowhere, whilst paperwork was done. Consequently, we arrived at the Couleur Café, in the dark, and just in time for dinner.
Although we could just make out a couple of pet bunnies hopping through the gardens, it wasn’t until the next morning we could appreciate our surroundings. There were 20 individual brick bungalows set around attractive gardens with plenty of seats.
Our bungalow, 15, was spacious with a fireplace and large double bed complete with blankets: at 1500m, Antsirabe had evening chills. The wardrobe resembled the hood of a telephone booth, and as it stuck out on the wall, it was an obstacle to be negotiated in the night. A large hessian rug and bedside mats were, on a highly polished wooden floor, a disaster waiting to happen. On bedside tables were foil containers saying ‘goodnight’ which I greedily opened thinking they were ‘turndown chocolates’ but discovered they were the blue pads that go into the electric mosquito deterrents. The room had an armchair, desk (with plug point) and stool, coffee table with two glasses but no water.
The large bathroom was striking in white and red with reasonable lighting. The water ran hot quickly, and the shower was relatively powerful. Although there was a hairdryer, it was of limited value.
Having quickly changed we found a welcoming, lit fire in the bar, but a group of German tourists had bagged all the seats, so we had a much-needed G&T sat at our allocated table in the cosy restaurant. Dinner was watercress soup or smoked fish salad, followed by zebu chunks, brown rice and braised greens or chicken in a mushroom sauce and two small baked jacket potatoes and mixed vegetables.
Knowing we had an early start the following day, we wanted to pay for our drinks after the meal and discovered they would only accept local cash, the Ariary Ariary (we’d found most places before had accepted Euro or credit cards).
Breakfast was a buffet with lots of cold items: cereals, yoghurt, fruit, cheese and ham, all manner of breads and juice. Tea and coffee were help yourself and as well as a tray of three unrecognisable hot dishes, we were offered eggs which we declined with another long drive in prospect.