Toamasina, on the eastcoast of Madagascar, also known by its French name of Tamatave is a badly decaying seaside resort with wide boulevards so badly potholed you would think there had been a war here. It rains a lot too and often the roads appear more like rivers than anything else. The long stretch of beach is uninviting and home to many Zebu (Madagascan hump backed cows) and youths playing football.
On the plus side though it has a relaxed and laid back feel and no matter how much you hate it, you will be sad to leave. Such is the way of the Malagasy people who have an inane ability to put a smile on your face.
Toamasina has a tropical climate with hot and humid weather year round. Temperatures average around 30 °C during the summermonths of November to March, around 25 °C from June to August. Nights are between 23 °C and 17 °C respectively. As Toamasina is located along the eastcoast, there isn't a real dry season, but the second half tends to be somewhat less wet. From December to May averge montly rainfall is around 350 mm. Hurricanes are possible this time of year as well.
There are regular boat services from Mauritius and Reunion to Toamasina. It departs approximately once every two weeks.
Getting around is by one of the hundreds of pousse-pousse, hand drawn rickshaws. Check the price before you get in and bargain hard. There is always one price for locals and a zillion different ones for 'Vazar's', white travellers, depending on how affluent they feel you are.
There are internet cafes in most major towns but dont expect broadband!
See also International Telephone Calls
Abundant phone booths almost everywhere. You can pick up cards in most shops. Calling home can be pretty cheap this way. Mobile phones can be used in towns but rarely in rural areas. You can pick up local sim cards really cheap. Opt for Orange, they have the best coverage. Again, a cheap way of calling home. Pick up top up cards almost everywhere, available from 2,000ar to 50,000ar.
You can have mail sent to you 'poste restante' but takes an eternity with the possibility of not receiving it at all. Likewise sending mail home. Postcards are ok but I have had several letters go amiss.
It is possible to send parcels but make sure you have a post office approved box, take it to the post office, then to the administative building to have the contents listed, then to customs to have it checked and sealed, then back to the post office. You can not send anything consisting of stuff made up of animals, vegetables or minerals. Better to give all your old clothes to the orphanage and take any souveniers in your bag with you.
as well as Peter (7%)
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