Hell Ville is the administrative centre of Nosy Be (Madagascar). It is thus inevitable that you will visit it. Also, because all the guide books suggest a stroll around the picturesque town of Hell Ville and more specifically, a stroll around its market is highly recommended.
Let’s get started: Hell Ville Market.
If you try to notice, you will realize that there are no shops in Nosy Be. Or rather, while you will see someone sitting somewhere selling some fruits or vegetables of their own cultivation, it is pretty rare to see a real shop outside of the Hell Ville city.
That been said, you can understand the reason why Hell Ville market is of vital importance for the inhabitants of Nosy Be. People from different villages all over Nosy Be walk km and km to reach the market for their daily needs. It is a place where they can find everything they need: from food items to a simple broom.
Besides that, the market plays an important role in the Malagasy culture since it is a kind of meeting place: a place to simply catch up on the gossip. They often walk more than 20 km to reach the market even with no intention of selling or buying.
Madagascar is a very poor country,and it does not offer job opportunities. So there are many unemployed, and consequently they have much time left to do this.
Why you should visit Hell Ville Market.
For reasons that we have listed above, Hell Ville market is the centre of Nosy Be’s Culture. Every corner of the market is a pearl of information about Madagascar. And that is definitely not what you see along the beach area.
The market is hugely colourful and cheerful with ladies in their traditional dresses buying groceries and children playing everywhere.
Contrary to the touristic area, products are very cheap here at the market. Spices, fresh and dry fish, poultry, meat, lobster, shrimp, hardware, natural remedies against the most common health issues, coal, and handcrafts are not too expensive. Even the world-famous Malagasy vanilla is very cheap here.
One more reason why you should visit Hell Ville Market in Nosy Be is to learn where the food you eat in your hotel comes from. Yes, this is where they get their supplies. After all, if there are no shops around…
Hygienic conditions at Hell Ville Market.
It’s pointless to hide that the hygienic conditions at the market are poor or even zero. The places where they sell food items are filthy and filled with flies.
I had a full-grown cow when I saw it.
I was staying in a hotel called L’Heure Bleue where everything was super-perfect. The food they served was delicious and well presented. It’s almost the same in every restaurant in the touristic area of Nosy Be. At their restaurants they serve the most incredible meat that will melt in your mouth like butter, believe me!
I never, ever imagined finding this situation at the market. Not to mention the children. They were even playing with products which were still waiting to be sold.
One more point was incorrect storage. They don’t have refrigeration so the food items were not stored in proper ways, so they looked terrifying. What to say!??? It was another world.
Is Hell Ville Market safe.
Yes, going around Hell Ville Market is safe, but secure your belongings properly. The Malagasy are not dangerous people, but you know when they say, “Opportunity makes the thief?” Well, we are in one of the world’s poorest countries and therefore, it is very easy to imagine that your mobile phone or your camera appeals to many.
Hell Ville Market: Things to know.
- Be always watchful. We just talked about this in the previous paragraph.
- Take a camera with you. Hell Ville Market is one of the most interesting places in Nosy Be to be photographed. The Malagasy, contrary to the Senegalese people, are more likely to accept being photographed.
- If prices don’t add up, you can bargain.
- Even though Malagasy chocolate is world famous, it is not sold at the Hell Ville Market.
- It is a perfect place to buy vanilla. Well, I suggest you don’t buy it elsewhere because in the touristic area they take advantage of this.
- During the late morning and early afternoon, the market is more chaotic. It is also tidier in the morning.
Hell Ville Market, conclusion.
Well, on one hand I felt lucky that I had an opportunity to visit such a different environment, but on the other hand I felt sorry for those conditions of life in which people were forced to live.
In our small way, what we can do without any cost to us, is to buy from the locals. So, visiting Hell Ville Market should be your number one priority during your holidays in Nosy Be.