Anjajavy and the Search For Meaning

Alain de Botton has said, “Travel agents would be wiser to ask us what we hope to change about our lives rather than simply where we wish to go.”

You could say that it is exactly this sentiment that our Relais & Châteaux Inspire Me moodboard works on… a desire to encourage people to find that thing they believe to be missing in their lives, in themselves. It helps seekers to discover ways to live better, feel better and be better and is an approach to travel that speaks more to the human core, to the sense of meaning we all seek, than ever before.

Each image on the moodboard relates to a different desire or experience, for instance: a longing for a change in mind and body, a need to tune out or to be in awe, a yearning to learn, an aching for a deeper connection – with human, animal or nature, and a dream to face your fears…

Once you’ve chosen the inspiration that speaks to you most, only then do you choose the destination and the lodge or hotel. It was this that led me to Anjajavy le Lodge in Madagascar. A deep need for pretty much all of the above. I wanted to live more, feel more and be more and to do so, all roads were pointing me to this part of the Indian Ocean.

So here they are, six reasons to follow the path to Anjajavy le Lodge.

1. the desire for A change in mind and body

Sunrise yoga on the beach…

2. A need to tune out

Boat rides across the big blue…

3. A LONGING to BE in awe

Of something great, of something natural or man-made, but something grand.

4. A yearning to learn

From others and with others, and particular somewhere wholly unfamiliar to you, where every day is a mystery, a new discovery.

5. An aching for a deeper connection – whether human, animal or nature

Because nothing is quite as fulfilling as finding kindred spirits.

6. A dream to face your fears

Whatever they may be… wild animals or tiny airplanes.

Discover more about what to expect at Anjajavy le Lodge and Madagascar in our recent article on Instants, You keep me wild, I’ll keep you safe, and in our blogs:

How The Cape of Storms Celebrated World Oceans Day

Here in Cape Town, we may live on land, but we live with the ocean. We pass it daily as we move in and around the city, we gaze out over it from mountain peaks, we inhale its cool breeze from the shore and and watch the antics of its whales, dolphins, sharks, seals, gulls, surfers, kayakers, bodyboarders, divers, sailors and fishermen.

This World Oceans Day, we wanted to head out into its expanse with Ellerman House‘s team, on a fishing trip with local fishermen in a rather dingy dinghy from Kalk Bay harbour. We had a plan. We were excited. We were ready to ride the waves and reel in dinner, to learn more about the traditional ways, the sustainable fishing practices carried out daily in the Cape of South Africa.

But a storm hit. The biggest storm in decades. There was heavy rain, hail, gusting winds, lightning, power outages, flooding, displaced homes, closed businesses and schools, fallen trees. Chaos. And so, all the boats were grounded, so to speak. There would be no fishing.

And while we retreated indoors, wondering where Cape Town’s drought had disappeared to, we were reminded of nature’s power. Of the ocean’s strength, one covering 71 percent of our little Earth’s surface, and 99 percent of all the living space on the planet. We were humbled and a little in awe as we watched massive waves break onto the roads along our coast. The ocean was taking over.

Sometimes, we as earthlings, landlings, neglect that the waters around us are part of us, our lives. We think that they don’t affect us, that we don’t affect them. Sometimes, it takes a storm, conveniently timed with a day dedicated to just this revelation, to remember the importance of the Big Blue.

Atlantic, we see you. Indian, we feel you. Pacific, Arctic, Southern, we hear you. Rather than being separate, we are one. Before the storm, we headed to a favourite lookout point in Cape Town to spend some time with the sea – the rugged rocky cliffs of Cape Point, in the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve, at the tip of the Cape Peninsula 60 km south-west of the city. It is a place aptly named the Cape of Storms, by Bartolomeu Dias in 1488, treated with great respect by sailors for centuries. A place where the immensity of the ocean is really unveiled and understood. (Take a look at the photos below.)

So while we have no fish dish to prepare, to celebrate this day with, perhaps that’s just the way the ocean wanted it. This rude awakening of the strength of the world’s oceans might have derailed our plans for World Oceans Day, but it taught us much more in the process.

For more about sustainable fishing practices, we caught up with a few influencers around the world in our magazine, Instants.

Read more in:

That Which the Sea Offers Us – Lionel and Manuela Brezo catch fish for the restaurant Mirazur. For them, as for its chef Mauro Colagreco, the sea is a constant source of inspiration that must be protected and preserved at all costs.

For the Love of Fish – Chef Julien Dumas is passionate about the sea. On the occasion of World Oceans Day, he spoke to us about the relationship of trust he has with his fish merchant Gilles Jégo, his decision to support sustainable fishing, and his love for cooking fish.

And discover more about our hotels and lodges in the Indian Ocean islands and the Cape, here in our blog, for a look at life lived in harmony with the world’s waters.

How To Cook Like A Malagasy: Mofo Ravina

Chef 5

In the name of seeing behind walls, of drawing closer to and finding each other, and of feeling more, as Walter Mitty creator, James Thurber described the purpose of life, we travel… But rather than merely passing through, we linger longer, and let ourselves melt into the landscape, trying to absorb all the elements of a place. Its whole spirit. One of the best ways to do this is through food, through eating the different dishes of a new land, yes, but even better, learning to cook with and like the local people. Whether in Rome or Cape Town, Zambia or the Caribbean, cooking unites us through taste. Through our mutual love of good food. And sometimes, merely, weird food.

At Anjajavy le Lodge in Madagascar, we discovered even more about the country, the land and people, through their Malagasy cooking class. First on the menu: a little something called Mofo Ravina, Malagasy for “bread to the leaf”, a dish served to us each morning at breakfast. It is also, waiter Dominic said, a dish that he remembers clearly from childhood; one given, traditionally, to Malagasy children as a snack because it is so high in energy. 

Cooking class 3

Recipe

Ingredients

250 g rice flour
3 large ripe bananas
1 vanilla bean
2 tbsp sugar
Banana leaves 

Method

Peel and crush the bananas with a fork.

Split the vanilla bean and scrape with a knife to collect the pulp.

Add the sugar and vanilla pulp to the crushed bananas, and finally the sifted flour. Mix thoroughly to obtain a thick paste.

To prepare the banana leaves, drift the shiny side over an open flame to make the leaf more supple.

Next, cut the banana leaves into 20 x 15 cm rectangles. Spoon 1 tablespoon of the mixture into the middle of the rectangle. Fold the edges of the sheet to the right, then left, fold the top and then the bottom. If you like you can tie a string around it (like wrapping a gift) to keep it in place.

Place the packages in a steam cooker and cook for 12 minutes. If they are larger than 2 cm thick and 6 cm long, increase the cooking time. (It is the cooking in the banana leaf that gives all the flavour to this snack.)

Remove the mofo ravina from the banana leaves and enjoy warm.

Malagasy cooking class

Cooking class 2

Malagasy cooking