60km in 8H24
This Easter Sunday traffic was relatively calm. In addition to school holidays, it is an important weekend for the Malagasy and Easter Monday is a holiday. With the exception of the small town of Brickaville at km 48, we crossed only tiny villages and a few bungalows. The roadsides are not suitable for parking vehicles; bush taxis stop in the middle of the road and are always in a hurry. So our feeding stops are not always easy; between hills and rivers the terrain is rough.
Having to stop every 4 to 5 kilometers, once again allows us in a rather untypical way to discover things about this country which is new to us. It is amazing how much you can learn if you spend time at the roadside. Meeting natives is genuine, whether they are disinterested or casually curious. You are not assaulted (I would add a warning for the large cities and sites for tourists where the Washes “foreigners” gather). That is why as we leave Brickaville and stop in front of hotely François (hotels are in fact holes in the wall, small cafés at the roadside), we raise curiosity but it is up to us to make a first move because the natives say hello but stand back and don’t stop what they are doing. At Maraomamy, we have the time to talk. Young Stefa is learning French at school and she is happy to try to speak with us. There is always a bit of restraint and discretion because the Malagasy are not enthusiastic about contacts with foreigners.
Serge arrives, the whole family applauds. He sits down, takes two minutes, shakes hands and leaves, with a woman from the stall opposite, wearing flip-flops, hot on the heels of our runner. It’s the source of great hilarity.
Another Malagasy quality, they are « cool ». In the land of mora mora (everyone takes life slow) some say that occasionally they can be excessive but I have yet to see signs of aggressively. And lastly, music is a second religion; the Malagasy adore music, which blares from the radio all day long when possible; don’t forget that electricity is rare and often nonexistent, but with a battery to supply power the trick is performed. They love to sing, to dance and to play an instrument, like Monika’s guardian angel, Bob, who is never without his guitar. And on this long Easter weekend, there are all sorts of banners announcing a variety of musical festivities. They brighten up the scenery, which is always very green.
Serge is not listening to music so his iPod is not in danger of overheating like he is. After 5km he is soaking wet. Today the humidity is uncomfortable, even for us who are not moving around much at the roadside. It is a sticky day with heartburn, two toe nails which hurt at the nail fold, a classic with Serge, and rather painful muscles after the second, consecutive 60 km day.
We see the ocean for the last time just before Brickaville. Tomorrow will take the RN #2, always the same road, which turns east and which we will begin to climb gradually. Let us hope we will find cooler temperatures. Aside from that, everyone is fine and in case you are asking yourself, there were no chocolate eggs hidden here. They must have melted before they arrived in Madagascar.
60km in 8H24