We only have a short drive today from Ranomafana to the little town of Ambalavao. We drive through the pretty country side where we can watch the local life as we drive along. There are the small houses along the road which looks not to be of the best quality and the local traffic is a bit slower than what we are used to from home. The local traffic is mostly made up of people walking carrying stuff on their head – just with the different pushcarts to mix it up a bit.
We arrive at around lunch time at the place so we have plenty of time to see some stuff in the city. The cities in Madagascar generally aren’t the most interesting places to go and visit so we don’t go out to explore the architecture.
Instead we head out to find a little complex which is home to a little local production of silk. I always thought that silk was native to china where the little caterpillars made cocoons out of a tiny thread which could be made into silk. It turns out there is other small worms which can make a thin thread which can be made into silk or at least something pretty similar.
I guess with all the special wildlife you on this island it shouldn’t come as a big surprise they also got their own version of the silk worm. They give a quick tour of the place and show the process of the production. It is a pretty lengthy process and they really haven’t done anything to make it less labor intensive. I guess when the daily pay in the country is a fraction of the hourly minimum wages in Europe or North America there isn’t much reason to cut down on the labor used in the production.
Most of the production is done by women who weave different cloths of the silk when it has gone through the process from a little cocoon to the final thread. Of course the tour ends in a little sales room where you can buy the finished products. The prices are not quite as low as you might expect and hope if you are looking for a scarf – and it they might claim it was silk but for me it didn’t feel as soft and smooth as the traditional silk is.
After checking out the silk production we head back to our hotel. The hotel is a pretty traditional hotel with rooms and bungalows – but in the back of the hotel they actually have a little factory going. Back there they make paper. The paper doesn’t look like traditional paper – it got a more rough appearance.
In the rooms of the factory there are some ladies – there is no guide showing you around you can just go in and if you want you can leave a small donation in a little basket. The ladies took the rough paper and made it into small booklets with real dry flowers laid into the paper. The paper looked pretty and quite different from traditional paper.
You couldn’t buy the paper directly from the ladies but there was a small shop at the hotel where you could by the local products for a reasonable price.