Belo-sur-Mer is a friendly village on the west coast of Madagascar. The city is popular amongst tourists looking to relax for a few days; the Indian Ocean is a deep blue, the streets are filled with sand, and garlic and ginger marinated crab is for sale for 25 cents a pound.
There is another city in Madagascar, located on the banks of the Tsiribihine River, called Belo-sur-Tsiribihine. I asked the owner of my hotel what the word “belo” means, thinking it is Malagasy for ‘town’ or ‘village’.
“Oh”, he said. “Belo means something bad. Really bad. Like a hundred rotting fish or just as many dead dogs”.
Maybe I didn’t stay long enough to find out where the city gets its name, but I thought Belo-sur-Mer was beautiful, with its white beaches and coral waters and smiling people.