61.2km – 8H16’
I leave it up to you to translate these 2 Malagasy words, which describe the end of the week at Malagasy Tours, as well as in Tana and in all of Madagascar. The end of the week is celebrated but that’s not counting this Thursday, because Olivier gave all his staff at Malagasy Tours the day off to celebrate Serge’s arrival in Tana. Yesterday Serge ran a short stage of 48.7 km, which he did without blinking an eye. Our stay at the Grill du Rouve was a dream: we at exquisite food, we slept in a soft bed and this morning our laundry was clean and dry. The Holy Spirit must not be far from here! After 7 hours of sleep we had to leave our sweet dream. At the summit of the high town, overlooking a bustling capital, time stood still on a whiff of air that we hoped would not dissipate. But the dream ended at 5 AM with the wakeup call.
Nathalie and Olivier prepared our breakfast, and then life went fast forward. 5H30 our dream team arrives and at 6H00 we leave for the By Pass and Alasora intersection. Dream In TV is there, Momo and Tahina run with Serge to guide him because it is not unusual for pedestrians to go faster than cars. Paul, the motorcycle messenger is also there for the first 20 km, when we reach the main highway #4. Tana is a unique capital with 12 sacred mountains. There is a series of small hills, rice fields, the famous road along the sea wall and the village of Andranomena, which is a permanent bottle neck. There is something I find crazy here: in a city of 2 million people there are not traffic lights, only traffic cops who do the best they can to manage the horrific traffic with a whistle, in an atmosphere of dust and pollution. Something else incredible: there are not horns blowing. Busses stop whenever and wherever they wish and apparently are part of the game; the Malagasy remain stoic. How do they do it? As Momo says « They have no choice so why get excited ». Serge runs at a good pace, remains alert and smiling. The dust doesn’t weight heavily on his shoulders or affect his morale. At approximately the 20th km highway #4 appears and we will not leave it until Majunga. The scenery changes dramatically. Finished the fruit trees and lush foliage. Here the hills are flatter and bare; the famous red earth appears in contrast to the green of the rice fields. The houses of brick and daub are red like the earth and the mountains and they provide a different picture of Madagascar.
The night was shorter than normal and even if we were tired we admired our surroundings. Olivier hopes that the change of teams will be smooth and today we leave with 5 people, Danz, whom you know and who is the “nursemaid” for Middeton and Hassina, who will replace Momo, and Tahina. Bob, Monika’s guardian angel is here too. He and I ran the errands for the next 9 days we will be on the road bivouacking, for there will be no place to say after this evening at Andranovelona. The spring that supplies Eau Vive mineral water is located here. Serge will stop at milestone 519 at Majunga. These milestones will form a pattern of our daily progress until we reach the west coast.
61.2km – 8H16’