Admiring the tree of the Little Prince in Baobabs Avenue
"Now if you attend to a baobab too late, you can never get rid of it again. It overgrows the whole planet. Its roots pierce right through. And if the planet is too small, and if there are too many baobabs, they make it burst into pieces." (Quote from the book "The Little Prince" by Antoine de Sain-Exupéry).
In our planet too, Little Prince, there is a "red island" cut off from the southern part of Africa, that is called "the land of baobabs’’, since six, out of the eight existing baobab species found on planet earth, grow exclusively here in Madagascar.
A morning of July, on a dirt road, somewhere between Morondava and Beloni's Tsiribihina in Western Madagascar, i am strolling very impressed along the Baobabs Avenue, and admiring the thirty-meter tall Adansonia grandidieri, that line up on the side of the road; a faint memory of the tropical forests that once flourished in Madagascar.
I admire this "reversed" tree, whose branches resemble roots. The legend says that when God planted it the tree continued to move, so God decided that the tree should be growing the other way around. The "tree of life" that provides shelter, clothes, food and water for men and animals of the African savanna. The mature trees are often hollow and serve as hideouts for animals and people. Its trunk can store even 120.000 liters (about 32,000 US gallons) of water and provides fibers used for making ropes and clothes. The fruits have woody shells, melon-like, rich in vitamin C and can be eaten cooked, like its leaves. The seeds are used against dysentery and its sap is collected and used in the production of paper pulp.
For about 250m on both left and right sides of the dirt road, about 30 trees, aged about~800-1.000 years, form a avenue and cast their reflections in the nearby pond.
Time has stopped here. Troops from the Malagasy people, with their merchandise and carts, move along the avenue.
Children toy with the water lilies of the pond and hug the trees in their effort to climb them; they somehow seem to know their value and power!
At a short distance you can see some straw huts and smiling women, with their faces smeared with a mixture of mud and aloe, for protection from the aggressive sun rays.
About 7 Km (almost~4,5 land miles) to the northwest you can see the famous "lovers". The Adansonia za. Two trees engaging in a tight hug, an eternal dance, growing together through the centuries. According to local legends they were a young couple from nearby villages that loved each other but without hope, as they were already engaged to marry others. However, the couple was dreaming of living together and have a family and kids and resorted to asking their god for help. Their god turned them into baobabs, so they can live in tight embrace, as they always wanted to!
We left heading Northwest, to visit the salt pans, guests of the honorary consul of Greece Panayotis Taloumis, owner of the salt pans managing company. Throughout the two hour journey we enjoyed genuine everyday life scenes of Malagasi, unique pictures of natural beauty, with hundreds of scattered exquisite pools with water lilies, but mainly with a multitude of baobabs scattered everywhere.
Time seems to have stopped here. Those baobabs, relics of the past, stand proudly, as kings of the landscape. Such dense concentration of baobabs is unusual, as there are relatively very few in Madagascar, overall.
Besides, young baobabs are very few in this area; victims of zebu and lumbering. Regeneration of the baobab forest is not at all secured. Just how long are these giants expected to live?
We returned for the unique sunset. When we arrived the sun was already near the horizon and descending real fast! So very fast, while our heart, brain and soul wanted this moment to last...
I am standing at the bank of the little pond alongside the Avenue, so I can take a better look of the giant trees' reflections in the pond, under the setting sun's rays shining through the array of trunks!
Pure magic... The sun is setting and gradually disappears, but the red cast lingers in the sky and I capture it with my lens, together with the lovely faces of adorable children of the red land!