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#479
Madagascar
Keymaster

During their journey in the South-West, Raymond Decary and Urbain Faurec pass on Nosy Ve, still in the Bay of Saint-Augustin. Measuring 1,500 meters long by 300 meters wide, the island is a low, sandy, grassy land surrounded by a coral reef, with no wells or fresh water. Its vegetation is composed only of thorny bushes and euphorbiaceae.
Toliara, the capital of the south-west, is accessed by schooners and the nearby shore, by local boats.
As early as the 16th century, Nosy Ve was a stopover point for ships traveling to India, and from 1690 to 1720 it was a point of departure for the Saint-Augustin forbanks.
Later, in 1888, a vice-residence was created in Nosy Ve where European and Hindu traders set up their warehouses to escape the violence of the inhabitants of the coast.
“Since 1897, the islet is uninhabited and is only frequented by vezo fishermen. Only a few graves remain in an old cemetery “(Raymond Decary and Urbain Faurec, during the first half of the 20th century).
Not far from the historic bay of Saint-Augustin, about fifteen kilometers south of Toliara, the limestone hills border the coast. They hide in their thickness a subterranean stream that ends at the sea by four resurgences over a space of 200 meters.
Two of them are inside caves dug in the rock. The one called the Pool has a partially collapsed vault and forms a sort of chasm; The other, known as Beloza, has more difficult access and is considered “fady” by local populations.
A small lake at the bottom of the cavity flows into the depths of the limestones. Its water flows into the course which ends up in the Swimming Pool.
Local belief does not fail to liven up this picturesque site of legendary beings. Thus Beloza is the home of the fairy of Sarandrano. She is a young woman of fair complexion, who always travels with a spear and is escorted by a goat. Pursued long ago by European sailors disembarked at Saint-Augustin, she took refuge in the cave. From thence it sends rain upon the men, fervent at its conquest, a hail of rocks, still visible at the entrance.
Still in the same area, a beautiful ficus of the fig species of India but known as Multipliant or banyan constitutes a curiosity near Toliara. It is that of Miary, in the valley of Fiherenana.
The tree alone constitutes a veritable grove that is no less than 60 to 70 meters in diameter. On all sides the roots of the air hang down like ropes to the ground. Others who have already penetrated the earth have grown and become large trunks themselves.
“The original strain which is at the origin of this fertile progeny, perhaps, is dead, for it has now divided into twenty or so offspring. “
One can understand that men have sometimes experienced a kind of religious fear in front of these strange fig trees which give rise, under their thick mysterious shadow, to roots descending from the highest branches like rigid and menacing serpents.
This brings the two French scientists back to Lamartine and his “Poetic Harmonies and
Religious “:
“His arms that time multiplies
Like a wrestler who falls back
To get a better start,
Throwing their elbows back,
Recurve in the quarry
To better carry the weight of the wind “.