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Anthony Bourdain Parts Unknown

Madagascar. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired May 31, 2015 - 20:00   ET



[20:00:19] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When I was a kid, my grandparents teach that there are some people who have been in Madagascar before. They were very little people and they live in forests and they respect their environment. But then comes many people from other countries, from Africa, from Asia, from Spain, from France. Many of us don't know the history.




ANTHONY BOURDAIN, CNN HOST (voice-over): Over the years, I've let a lot of extraordinary landscapes recede into a blur outside my windows. I've looked, maybe seen, maybe noticed, then gone.


BOURDAIN: We all carry different experiences inside us. We see things differently, don't we?

Madagascar, exotic unspoiled paradise or microcosm for the end of times.

Antananarivo, Tana for short, Madagascar's crowded chaotic capital city.

(on camera): How are you doing, man? Base camp.

Wow. That's quite a rain.

ARONOFSKY: I don't know. I'm not sure if I can be in front of the camera.


BOURDAIN: Just ignore them.

ARONOFSKY: I'm so used to controlling everything.

BOURDAIN (voice-over): Darren Aronofsky, director of the film's "Pi," "Requiem for a Dream," "The Wrestler," "Black Swan," and as it would turn out, sort of appropriate to our location, "Noah." He asked me if he could go along on a trip with us. I said, where do you want to go.

(on camera): Madagascar. I knew almost nothing about it. I knew it was an animated film I've seen a lot of times in my car.

ARONOFSKY: It is one of the more extreme places that you hear about but you know you'll never go to unless something really weird summons you. And you're sort of that weird force.


BOURDAIN: We're on an island in the Indian Ocean with this amazing ethnic mix, an incredible landscape. Something like 80 percent of the animals here don't exist anywhere else.

[20:05:09] ARONOFSKY: What does it mean when an ecosystem goes out of balance? What is the blowback? Here, you can see the blowback. All of a sudden you don't have soil anymore and you can't grow anything anymore. It's a real situation.

There we go.

BOURDAIN: There we go.

An important question. You are a vegetarian.

ARONOFSKY: Yes. And it just sort of happened with the release of "Noah." In scripture, he is a vegetarian as was Adam and Eve. Humans weren't given permission to eat animals until after the flood.

BOURDAIN: So we'll see who is doing better after the end of days.


A little social experiment here.

(voice-over): Madagascar was settled, best we can tell, around 700 A.D. by people from what is know Indonesia, later by Africans. In 1895, the French took it, killed off a substantial number of people in the process, and as they do, left behind beautiful buildings and the French language. When independence came in 1960, it was sudden and ill prepared for. Continuing political incompetence has left most of Madagascar's 22 million people living on less than $2 a day.

(on camera): Do you know this place? Do eat here?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. Monday, Saturday, before going out, before going tonight club.

BOURDAIN (voice-over): First meal in country and I suggested this place. I thought it would be perfect with Aaron being a vegetarian and all.

This is what you call being passive aggressive, I think.

(on camera): So what's good here?



BOURDAIN: Pork, my favorite vegetable.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just the head of the pork.

BOURDAIN: It sounds good.


ARONOFSKY: I'm not going to have it. I'm going to go just with vegetables.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh. Oh. You don't want to taste it?

ARONOFSKY: I'm not going to taste pig head, not today.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Always take it with beans.

BOURDAIN: Rossi, the famous musician here, is out of a period out of favor with the previous government back home and elected to parliament.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And this is I think --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The leaves are from --

ARONOFSKY: Here we go.


ARONOFSKY: That's excellent.

BOURDAIN (on camera): These days, what are the big issues that are not being taken care of?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Poverty and not enough education.

We are very rich. We have oil, but our political leaders most of the time are crook.

ARONOFSKY: How much does the environmental issues matter to the people or is it just about survival?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They don't care. The international community, they've paid a lot of money to protect the forest. You protect the monkey. You don't protect the people. I eat the monkey. If I'm hungry, I eat them. They don't care about the world is going more and more war.

ARONOFSKY: Climate change. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. You are going to die, yes? OK. You're going

to die. That's life. For them, just normal.

BOURDAIN: A lot of people feel that the future should be ecotourism. People should essentially be working in hotels and restaurants for tourists.


BOURDAIN: That's kind of a return to colonialism, isn't it?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Exactly. Exactly.







[20:13:11] MARIETTE ANDRIANJAKA, MALAGASY CHEF: Tell me what you think of this.

BOURDAIN (on camera): I'm looking forward to this. It's a very famous dish, goose.

ANDRIANJAKA: Goose and the language is the shredded meat.

BOURDAIN: Very cool.

(voice-over): There's always someplace where the flame is kept burning, history kept alive, however faintly.

ANDRIANJAKA: This is the stuffing.

BOURDAIN: These days in Madagascar's capital city, it's left to Mariette.


ANDRIANJAKA: The epitome of the cooking is the way Mariette cooks it.





(SINGING) BOURDAIN: During the colonial period, Mariette was a frequent

colonial ambassador.




ANDRIANJAKA: Harry Bellefonte.

BOURDAIN: The go-to chef for visiting presidents and royalty.


BOURDAIN: The success story, her mansion high atop Oatville, the former neighborhood of choice for aristocrats and colonizers alike.


BOURDAIN: Though semi-retired, Mariette continues to entertain guests from time to time.


ANDRIANJAKA: So this is broth with chicken and ginger.

[20:15:08] BOURDAIN: These dishes marry mostly disappeared Malagasy royal cuisine with the techniques and training of the classical French.

(on camera): So the bowl on the right with the broth?


BOURDAIN: Wow, look at this.

ANDRIANJAKA: This is the vegetable (inaudible, one of the side dishes. It's like a salad.

ARONOFSKY: Cauliflower, carrots:

ANDRIANJAKA: String beans.

Most Malagasy don't eat meat at every meal. It's expensive. Most would eat rice, broth with vegetables and that's it.

ARONOFSKY: I'd do fine.

ANDRIANJAKA: Yes, you would do fine here. Yeah, absolutely.

BOURDAIN: This is a country that is very rich in natural resources.

ANDRIANJAKA: Madagascar, we have a lot of things that a lot of people want. For example, the trafficking of rosewood, prospecting for oil, for gas, and don't leave anything for the rest of the country. But this is an island paradise.

ARONOFSKY: And it is disappearing very, very quickly.

ANDRIANJAKA: A lot of our forests are being burned down because people don't have land from which to grow their crops.

BOURDAIN: The best case scenario that everybody seems to raise is ecotourism will save the day. The local people will be, what --

ANDRIANJAKA: Working for wages, yes.

BOURDAIN: -- cleaning rooms, cooking, and performing traditional ethnic dances.

ANDRIANJAKA: Yeah, absolutely.

BOURDAIN: To me, this is not an ideal option. And we see it --

ARONOFSKY: What's an ideal option, though?

BOURDAIN (voice-over): Heading south from Tana, it's a very different country out there, where rice is the difference between life and death. Between the traditional slash-and-burn agriculture that's existed here since this island was first settled and the imperative of charcoal as heat source, 90 percent of the forests and jungles that covered Madagascar are gone.


DR. PATRICIA WRIGHT, PRIMATOLOGIST: Not yet. They're very elusive. They're very difficult to see.

BOURDAIN: Thanks largely to the work of Dr. Patricia Wright, over 4,000 hectors of forest have been set aside and protected with the creation of Ranomafana National Park.

Her recently completed research station is a state-of-the-art complex that reminds one of that cynical Spielberg franchise -- what was it -- Jurassic Merch (ph)?

WRIGHT: Here he is. He's right next to me. Can you see him?


BOURDAIN (on camera): Oh, wow.

WRIGHT: Really right next to me.


BOURDAIN (voice-over): The area provides essential habitat for the golden bamboo lemur, a species Dr. Wright discovered here in 1986, and the greater bamboo lemur, previously thought extinct.

WRIGHT: There's only 500 of these in the world in the whole wild.

BOURDAIN (on camera): Wow. Really? What's the biggest pressure on the population?

WRIGHT: Slash-and-burn agriculture. No question.


WRIGHT: There he is. Look at it. Beautiful. It's so nice.



He's pissing.


He's taking a leak right now.


BOURDAIN: Hopefully, that's not an editorial statement.



Look. This is the kind of bamboo shoots that the lemurs love. It's full of protein and it's full of cyanide.

BOURDAIN: The cyanide not a problem for them?

WRIGHT: They can tolerate all kinds of cyanide. The cyanide comes straight through when they poop.

ARONOFSKY: Do they know how they get it through their system?

WRIGHT: We're working on that.


What is the dew on the outside of it? Just dew?

[20:20:09] WRIGHT: Careful!

ARONOFSKY: Oh, don't touch.

WRIGHT: How is your finger feeling?

ARONOFSKY: It felt a little sharp, but like a fuzzy sharp.



WRIGHT: It's just like fiberglass actually.

BOURDAIN: It'll leave tiny, tiny little sharp -- (CROSSTALK)

ARONOFSKY: If I like my finger, am I going to die?

WRIGHT: Probably.

ARONOFSKY: Are you serious? Can it go through the skin now that I've touched it?



You have to eat it.


BOURDAIN: Hopes for "Black Swan 2, The Revenge" were dashed today when --


ARONOFSKY: Wow. One right above you.

BOURDAIN: Has the film "Madagascar" been good for the lemur business?

WRIGHT: I think the cartoon really woke up the world and that there is a place called Madagascar, although many of people don't think it really exists.


ARONOFSKY: So what do you think happens? How hard is it to maintain the forests?

WRIGHT: It's incredibly hard. We've been working with the villagers around the park and I think they really do understand the value of these extraordinary lemurs and the value of the forests. And the economic value of tourists is tremendous for this country.


[20:25:10] BOURDAIN (voice-over): The boundaries of Ranomafana Park protect what they can of Madagascar's rapidly diminishing rain forest, but it's not all about lemurs and rare species of unspoiled beautiful places.

WRIGHT: These are the Tenalla people. These are the people of the forest. This is the fifth time they've had to change the location of the village because they do slash-and-burn agriculture.


WRIGHT: This ceremony today is a ceremony to celebrate the fact that 17 people from the village are going to donate their land to conservation. It won't be cut down. (MUSIC)

BOURDAIN: Before the Tenalla land can officially become a part of the park, the gods, the ancestors, somebody must be appeased.


BOURDAIN: And that, as it often does, means that something must die.

(on camera): Do you see this a lot?

WRIGHT: I usually don't when this is happening.


BOURDAIN (voice-over): For someone with as dark a world view, judging from his films anyway, as the newly vegetarian, Mr. Aronofsky, he seems unusually uncomfortable with the bleeding realities of local custom.

ARONOFSKY: Do you see them?

BOURDAIN: Preferring instead to "trip the light fantastic" in the rain forest idle.





BOURDAIN (on camera): How do you make the argument, when you're in duress, to protect an area, a forest, when the forest means fuel, food?

WRIGHT: What we've had to do, of course, is make their lives better in exchange. Health projects, education projects, tourism. Many of the people work as tour guides. They work in the hotels. They have work. They didn't have any work when I got here. But also the benefits of researchers. We hire 85 people full-time. I asked the director of the Ranomafana National Park, where's your village that you lived in when you were a little girl? That's on one side of the park.




BOURDAIN (voice-over): The ancestors presumably OK with the land transfer, it's time to party.

(MUSIC) BOURDAIN: Dr. Wright worked hard to establish the park with the stated aim of protecting the absolutely unique flora and fauna here and reducing human pressures on the area.


[20:30:00] BOURDAIN (voice-over): This, however, is the face of human pressure, just so we're clear.


ARONOFSKY: Hey, take care, guys.



DARREN ARONOFSKY, FILM DIRECTOR: We're right on the edge of the park. And right on the edge, literally, is where they built the power lines and where they're slashing and burning. We were trying for landscapes like this in "Noah."

BOURDAIN (on camera): Sort of a post-apocalyptic wasteland thing going on, right?

ARONOFSKY: The road.

BOURDAIN: Look, all the original fauna and flora in New York City and Chicago and Detroit and Los Angeles are gone. We don't feel too guilty about that.

ARONOFSKY: That's the argument of all these developing countries: You did it. Didn't they teach us in the third grade that two wrongs don't make a right?



[20:35:00] ARONOFSKY: What were they welding on?

BOURDAIN (on camera): Oil pan.



BOURDAIN (voice-over): Most of Madagascar's French-built rail network has crumbled into nothingness, but this train still runs.


ARONOFSKY: Look how it's painted. It's painted.

BOURDAIN (on camera): It's first class.

ARONOFSKY: Yeah, yeah.

BOURDAIN: We ride in style.

BOURDAIN: How old is this train?


BOURDAIN: Wow, it works.

ARONOFSKY: Oil pan worked.

BOURDAIN: I hope that's not a pitying look I see on some of their faces. They're all looking at us like.




BOURDAIN (voice-over): It's 162 kilometers to the one-time major port town of Manakara.


BOURDAIN: It's both the greatest thing ever, meaning a fantastically scenic emersion into Madagascar that most visitors never get to see, and then, at times, punishing crawl.


BOURDAIN: For the majority of the 17 station stops along the line, this train provides the only connection to the outside world. People hop off and on, load and unload fruit, leechees, bananas. While a few foreigners on board watch.

ARONOFSKY: Can we get some peanuts? Thank you.

BOURDAIN: And there are vendors selling food and drink, which is increasingly a necessity since as the supposed eight-hour trip is said to sometimes approach 18.


ARONOFSKY: All right. So we got a shaker. We got an umbrella, champagne.


You let the train pour for you.

BOURDAIN (on camera): Right.


ARONOFSKY: This is the leechee. BOURDAIN: That smells good.


BOURDAIN (voice-over): Darren woke early and hit the hotel kitchen to make the necessary fresh leechee puree for festive cocktails.

ARONOFSKY: Wait, wait, wait.

BOURDAIN (on camera): Oh, yes. It's not bad. It's not bad at all.

ARONOFSKY: OK. It's a nice summery drink.

BOURDAIN: The leechee makes it.

ARONOFSKY: The leechee makes it, yes.

BOURDAIN: What do we call this? The golden lemur would be good.

ARONOFSKY: The golden lemur.



BOURDAIN (voice-over): Flashes of everyday life, the struggle to live, to eat, viewed from a moving train, then gone.


ARONOFSKY: Different areas of Madagascar are burning everywhere you can see.


BOURDAIN: After seven hours or so --

ARONOFSKY: We're coming into a town.

BOURDAIN: -- the imperatives of food, any food, become ever more urgent.

(on camera): This is it. This is the stop. I am starving.

ARONOFSKY: I am so with you.

Look, this kid is wearing a banana like a yamaka.

BOURDAIN (voice-over): The wonderland of fresh papaya salads along with tasty train station treats we were told would be here, well, it is somewhat suboptimal.

[20:40:09] ARONOFSKY: Little did I know there would be a feeding frenzy.

There's no papaya salad. Everything's gone. All right, here are some bananas.

BOURDAIN: Yeah, a few of those.

ARONOFSKY: A few of those. Merci.

BOURDAIN (voice-over): We get what we can.

(on camera): (INAUDIBLE)


BOURDAIN (voice-over): It's hard to complain about the lack of food options when you look around.

ARONOFSKY: Lots of kids.


ARONOFSKY: Want some?


ARONOFSKY: Yeah, it's hard.


BOURDAIN (on camera): This is nice.

ARONOFSKY: This is the way to travel. Until a palm leaf comes flying at you.

Watch it, watch it, watch it!




[20:46:45] BOURDAIN (voice-over): This is what it's like to wake up at the end of the world. Beyond here, to the east, nothing but thousands of miles of Indian Ocean.


BOURDAIN: Morning, and fishermen return with their catch.


BOURDAIN (on camera): Have you felt how wobbly that boat was coming over?


BOURDAIN: Imagine going out in a serious chop with that thing and fishing.

(voice-over): Manakara was a major port back in the days, a major transportation hub, but now, it's a sleepy beach town.


BOURDAIN (on camera): That's a disturbingly large spider. I would be unhappy if I saw that coming across my pillow.



Dude, it's a chicken or rooster.


BOURDAIN: I tell you that lobster is smelling good.

ARONOFSKY: No, they're disgusting. They're like giant insects walking. And what do they eat? What do they eat?

BOURDAIN: Corpses.


BOURDAIN: Dead things.


BOURDAIN: You are such a Debbie Downer.


BOURDAIN: You're such a downer.

ARONOFSKY: You were born here. And your parents are from here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's a fisherman.

ARONOFSKY: How far out do they go out?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: About 50 miles, sometimes.

BOURDAIN: He goes out 50 miles in a little canoe?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. Every day, every day.

BOURDAIN: Awesome.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is typical dish. Green leaves, egg plants, some spices.

BOURDAIN (voice-over): It should be pointed out, we bought a lot of food. This sort of spread is not an everyday meal in these parts.

(on camera): There's your veggie platter. There you go, man.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now we have a piece of a shark.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He says smaller fish.

BOURDAIN: Smaller fish?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Smaller fish and the quantity as well, smaller.

BOURDAIN: There you go.


ARONOFSKY: That's a papaya salad. Oh, thank you.

BOURDAIN (voice-over): It's one of those days where the artifice of making television threatens to move dangerously into cruelty.

(on camera): What are you guys eating over here?


BOURDAIN (voice-over): Who gets to eat and when becomes a pressing concern to the two of us?

ARONOFSKY: Can we get the kids eating? Can we hand out the food?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In a local culture like this, first ladies serve the men.

[20:50:05] BOURDAIN (on camera): Right.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And then we eat. And then the kids eat later.

BOURDAIN: Right. I got you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's like a caste system.

BOURDAIN (voice-over): It's not like our system but it's a system.

(on camera): The kids are getting ready for theirs over there.

(voice-over): And it becomes clear that, yes, everybody will eat.

BOURDAIN (on camera): There we go.

Come to daddy.

That's good, dude. You picked a bad time to become a vegetarian. You really did. Not bad.

The food is amazing. There's some really good cooks at work here today. It's really amazing.


BOURDAIN (voice-over): And then the music starts and the dancing.


BOURDAIN: And as so often happens, the not so spontaneous made-for-TV party becomes a real party.



BOURDAIN: And we all, for a little while anyway, forget about where we came from and where we might be tomorrow.




[20:55:51] (SHOUTING)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hallelujah. Praise the lord!


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You are blessed today.



CHILDREN: Hallelujah.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The book of Revelations say that whatever we do God can see and he take not. (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE) I will destroy the city because all of the people are sinners. Amen.



CHILDREN: Hallelujah.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hallelujah. Hallelujah. Hallelujah.

BOURDAIN (voice-over): The camera is a liar. It shows everything. It shows nothing. It reveals only what we want. Often, what we see is seen only from a window, moving past and then gone. One window. My window. If you had been here, chances are you would have seen things differently.


BOURDAIN (on camera): You've lived it now. Looking back, if you were editing this show, how would you tell this story?


BOURDAIN: This is it. This is the food stop. I'm starving.

ARONOFSKY: I am so with you.


BOURDAIN: That is quite a scene.

ARONOFSKY: Lots of kids.


ARONOFSKY: Want that?



ARONOFSKY: You always want a simple answer to everything to make it all make sense, and it seems to -- I don't know, it's just constantly surprising.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What can you see everywhere you go? In the office? In the market? People are sinning, making sin.

ARONOFSKY: As a kid, I always wondered if I was good enough to get on the ark, so I always sort of empathize with the people who didn't make it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: God, make out of the animals, come inside the big ship, and all of the people begged, but what families are saved? Here is our ship.

ARONOFSKY: God decides to destroy creation 10 generations after he created everything, so it must have hurt tremendously.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: God will choose us like he chose Noah. He brought the ark. He will send us, too. Alleluia!

CHILDREN: Alleluia.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Pray for Madagascar. Pray for yourself. Pray for your family. Pray!


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: God will save Madagascar.