Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Baobabs on Fire!!

Bush fires are a huge problem in Madagascar. People have all kinds of reasons to set fire to land: to clear it for agriculture, to burn useless weeds and make room for french new graze, or to produce charcoal.

A major disaster struck last weekend: the stunning Allee de Baobab in Morondava, has been victim to wild fire. It took five hours to discover the fire, and many many more to kill it. Local people tried, but all they had was plastic water cans and branches. There is no proper fire brigade.

Seeing this picture brought tears to my eyes. Some of these trees are over 800 years old!


Natural monument of Madagascar before the fire

So if you see a Baobab or any other big old beautiful tree, give it a big, fat, long hug, you never know for how long it will be there for!

Tree hugging is good for you...and for the trees!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

What do you mean, carrots are orange?

A Belgian guy asked me once: Susanne, do you know why carrots are orange? He insisted that I, especially should know the answer to this question.

I had never thought about this. To me it's like: why are bananas crooked? A fact, a given from mother nature.

But is it, really?

Every two weeks I order a basket (called Sobika) full of fresh, organically grown, healthy vegetables from Ferme Ivato. It takes me one minute to click on three online buttons, et voila...on Tuesdays the Sobika is develired to our house for 15,000 Ariary (4,50 euro) - what a pleasure.

It's always a bit of a surprise to see what is in it. Look what I found last week:

Purple carrots from La Ferme d'Ivato

Of course this made me think of the question why carrots are orange? After some googling I found out that the first orange carrots emerged in the Netherlands in the 17th century. Dutch cultivators had developed a new strain containing high amounts of beta-carotene. Why? In honor of the Dutch Royal Family and William of Orange!!

So now I know why I should have known...

For those who don't believe me: pay a visit to the carrot museum in Belgium. Yes, that is also true!

Oh and for those in Tana, http://www.lafermedivato.com/

This week's Surprise Sobika

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Crying Trees

Red dresses under violet tree
"Purple rain...purple rain"...this Prince song has suddenly gotten new meaning for me. Also, a wheeping tree is no longer a willow to me. What I am talking about? About one of the world's most stunning trees: the Jacaranda!

It's spring time and Tana and the elegant purple Jacaranda trees are everywhere. If you're looking up you see an explosion of color - violet flowers against a clear blue sky. On the ground, hunderds of lavender petals covering red earth, or green gras.

There's not a cloud in the sky, and yet...and yet...when walking underneath the Jacarandas you feel large droplets of water... splattering on your face, your arms, on the ground...


Well, everybody in Madagascar knows this... Jacaranda trees cry!!

I wonder why on earth such a pretty tree is crying...
It must be tears of joy!

Explosion of color

Big fat drop on my arm...

Tears of joy?

Jacarandas in Tana. Walk under these and you really get wet!

No, seriously...what makes these trees 'cry' is a cicada-type insect called Jorery in Malgache. They too are fond of the pretty Jacaranda. They absorb water and while sitting in the tree, they pee it out.

So. they're actually peeing trees!