Where in the hell is Hell-ville?

Nosy Be, Madagascar -- Weekly local market in Hell-ville, above the harbor

Hell-ville — Weekly local market above the harbor

Also known as Andoany, Hell-ville is Nosy Be’s largest town and administrative center.  So now the question is, “Where is Nosy Be?”  It’s a tropical island on the west side of the northern end of Madagascar, more-or-less around the corner from Antsiranana, formerly known as Diego Suarez, Madagascar (see our previous blog on Ankarana National Park).

We spent the morning touring the local weekly market in Hell-ville.  It’s a tropical version of the extensive weekend French and Italian combined farmers’ market and housewares market.  The setting was both in the town market building (a permanent structure) and hundreds upon hundreds of stalls and booths lining several streets, running all the way down to the waterfront (see photograph, above).  One of the most popular walk-away food items for immediate consumption were the local fried donuts.

Nosy Be, Madagascar -- Very popular fresh fried donoughts

Hell-ville, Nosy Be, Madagascar — Very popular fresh fried donuts

The town itself was small but picturesque — both the buildings and the locals.

Nosy Be, Madagascar -- A main street shop showing the French influence in design and blue color in Hell-ville

Nosy Be, Madagascar — A main street shop showing the French influence in design and blue color in Hell-ville

Nosy Be, Madagascar -- A handsome local man let me interrupt his coffee time in Hell-ville

Nosy Be, Madagascar — A captivating local man let me interrupt his coffee time in Hell-ville

Nosy Be, Madagascar -- Main street in Hell-ville on market day

Nosy Be, Madagascar — Main street in Hell-ville on market day

Unless you walked down very narrow passages between some of the blocks of buildings, you wouldn’t see the local homes that abut the shops and stalls of the main street.  While there were clear architectural influences of Western colonists in “town”, the homes were typical third-world shanties.

Nosy Be, Madagascar -- One storefront away from main street in Hell-ville: local shanty housing

Nosy Be, Madagascar — One storefront away from main street in Hell-ville: local shanty housing

There were people from all over the island in the market, and the sellers were likewise from across the island, not just the town of Hell-ville.  Quite a few picturesque scenes:

Nosy Be, Madagascar -- Smiling at the crazy American photographer at my stall (taking a picture after hiding to avoid being photographed)

Nosy Be, Madagascar — Smiling at the crazy American photographer at my stall (taking a picture after hiding to avoid being photographed)

Nosy Be, Madagascar -- The assistant sales clerk

Nosy Be, Madagascar — The assistant sales clerk

Nosy Be, Madagascar -- Geometric pattern of fresh shrimp for sale in the market in Hell-ville

Nosy Be, Madagascar — Geometric design of fresh shrimp for sale in the market in Hell-ville

Nosy Be, Madagascar -- Shelling beans for sale in Hell-ville's market

Nosy Be, Madagascar — Shelling beans for sale in Hell-ville’s market

Nosy Be, Madagascar -- Life is good here at Nosy Be

Nosy Be, Madagascar — Life is good here at Nosy Be

At the end of the long stroll through town and the market, we returned to the ship by tender boat.  As we were tying up alongside the ship, a half dozen local dug-out canoes came over with carved wooden souvenirs for sale.

Nosy Be, Madagascar -- Local craftsmen with hand-carved wooden wares

Nosy Be, Madagascar — Local craftsmen with hand-carved wooden wares

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