"For the tombs, the views & more... much more !" Anosy Avaratra by Norali

Anosy Avaratra Travel Guide: 6 reviews and 13 photos

Very few pictures but some surprises and memories. Still, the page will be a short one... I was busy chatting with a kind local man instead of taking pictures. And, well, no bad in that... in the contrary. :-)

For Anosy Avaratra being about 2-3 kilometers from my place, I use(d) to pass by very frequently. It is on my way to the city center so at (old) times, I used to pass there 4 times a day... The same as with Lazaina village.

I've never dedicated a full day to visit the village like a walking tour with a guide & all... Instead, there used to be a butcher stall where we bought meat & we'd done that for years... Instead, my daily walks sometimes lead me to Anosy area... Instead, once in a while, I enter the village to soak up the serenity of the graveyard in the early misty mornings. It could have been another noblemen graveyard but no, my grand-ma (Mother of my Mother) originates from here & her mother has her tomb here. So, I was happily comfortable to visit this particular graveyard.

Last time I was there, June 2006, while reading names on the front plaques & taking a picture of some tomb, a local man walked in the nearby. I asked him some info about the graveyard, about where so-and-so was buried. I knew a grand-ma, an uncle of my grand-ma were buried in one of the noblemen tombs, but which one exactly ... hard to tell & that was what I explained to him. Bayard, as he introduced himself later, was pleased to talk about the area, stories of some families there, offered to guide me around, showed me his own family grave (unbeknownst to me then, happens he & my grand-ma shares the same tomb as I was told by my Mum later when I reviewed the pictures with her). He let me follow his paths... to his own orchard. We entered a gate. From there, a somptuous view on the ricefields downward. We were standing on the top of a small cliff, the rays of this rising sun caressing our cheeks & playing on the water surface in the fields... Bayard's orchard looked onto the East & it was 7.30 am. The beauty of nature is amongst the things which make me wake up early.

To think, I was only asking for some information & this guy let me into his orchard, gave hints about his life, his family projects... He did it in such a spontaneous way that led me to exchange as well. Later on, he offered to accompany me on my way back, a bit sad to not be able to give me some "voan-dalana". He let me enjoy the serenity of his yard, sitting under the fruit trees, while he was thriving upstairs to change. [Sidenote: "Voan-dalana" is what one brings home when returning from a trip & it is customary to bring some fruits, specialties for friends & family. Voan-dalana Bayard would have liked to give me are some fruits in his orchard & yard. They were too raw when I was there.]

Well, this was the surprising part. With all the warnings given by my famiily, how could I trust this total stranger and let him guide me around the graveyard, the village and even accompany me on my way back.. along the silent (off beat) dirty road that goes through villages? Yes, the very one I used to be told not to venture on alone. Back home, when I, excited, went on with my tales, my Mum & our husemaid were so worried why the guy kept on sticking around. Well, I was a bit confused about how they viewed this trait which I thought was his kindness. Hey! what can I say? He did everything with respect (never I felt there was harassment neither arrière-pensée), he hadn't asked for money... After some irritating remarks, I told I was grateful he showed me around & accompany me. What I could see on their faces was disbelief, anxiety...

Plus, I added, as a "valala mpiandry fasana", Bayard should have had some reserve towards this total stranger with a camera which pretends to have a family member buried in his graveyard but doesn't even know her own family tomb. There, my Mum & the housemaid agreed. [Sidenote: A "valala mpiandry fasana" (: lit. a grasshopper that looks after a tomb) is a local which is informally responsible for looking after the safety of a graveyard & his own family tomb, more particularly.]...

Later on, my Mum found her explanation, a motive about his kindness. She said he was kind because he knew my grand-ma was from the area, with a blue blood as his. She added that there may have been this typical blue blood trait, to bond, "especially" & sometimes "only", with one's peers... I recalled that & no bad in that. There must have been a similar thought that had sprung to my mind while chatting with him. It may have been his sheer kindness, or a valala mpiandry fasana duty to look after strangers who ventured nearby the graveyard, or a snobbish blue blood style bonding, or a so-called "nobleman education" ... Whatever...

Well, one day, I'll return just to tell Bayard had my grand-ma chosen not to be worried in my grand-pa's grave, she would be buried in his tomb... Noblewomen are allowed to not follow their husbands in their graves, esp. whenever the latter are of lower rank. But my grand-ma will follow her husband, I'm sure of that. My grand-dad is "only" three quarters nobleman, quarter freeman. No bad in that either...

Now about this tomb that is so specific to Merina noblemen (Merina is the tribe I belong to). Can be painted in red, carmin (such colours used to be only for noblemen). Mostly, noblemen graves are "adorned" with these little huts above them. They are called "tranomanara" & only noblemen tombs can have these tranomanara. I'll elaborate about tranomanara later...

**There are other areas in Greater Tana where to find noblemen necropolis & those specific architectures. Still, this is a smaller area, easy to reach, on your way to the UNESCO site of Ambohimanga. Try to hit Anosy Avaratra in the mornings as it is the perfect time to enjoy the serenity of such a place". Also, you could shop for some art & craft in Anosy Avaratra**

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:art, craft, an insight on Merina noblemen tomb architecture
  • Cons:-
  • In a nutshell:An interesting stop on your way to the UNESCO site of Ambohimanga
  • Last visit to Anosy Avaratra: Jun 2006
  • Intro Updated Jul 17, 2006
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