December 5, 2014
The Green Gate
- as seen by -Julie Larsen Maher
There is no big city bustle in Toliara, the capital of Madagascar’s Atsimo-Andrefana region. It sits in serenity on the southwest corner of the island nation.
Toliara has seen better times. Its waterfront is gray and splintered. Half open windows peer out on its port like elderly eyes.
Tides rise from the Mozambique Channel to lap at the hooves of oxen hauling wares in creaky carts to the heart of the city.
Poverty and population have outpaced the available space. Generations live together in a single place. They exist in tropical air that is thick and hot, covering them like an unwanted blanket.
On one dusty passage, a great green gate emerges, the verdant color of Madagascar’s last remaining forests. A mother in a wrap of rich hue holds her bare-bottom baby, and crosses the threshold.