Daily Archives: April 14, 2015

A day looking toward new horizons, on the road halfway between Tana and Majunga -

61.8km in 7H48′
If Serge is still heading north, my thoughts are directed more westerly, toward Mozambique. We still have so much to organize and the section north of Beira is not full of expat French or tour operators. The fact that we will not settle there or have access to WIFI will also complicate matters. So today it is my part in the adventure that takes my mind off what is happening on highway #4. René takes care of refueling and I am left to thinking about what will happen next.
Danz covered 15 km yesterday, which was overdoing it a bit, however, this morning he walked 5 km. Congratulations! Serge appears to be programmed, in spite of the heat, the blazing sun and the voracious mosquitoes last night and this morning. I think today’s priority will be to find a shady spot for our camp, which means trees and nearby water, which means mosquitoes. But our preference tends to shade and mosquitoes over blazing sun and heat.
As we go down the mountain, we are greeted by a slight breeze which is not at all refreshing. Since yesterday there are more small villages with very little for sale in the shops. We have found no bread, fruit is rare and there is no meat. This morning we found eggs so this evening we will have an omelet. We still have quite a bit of rice and Danz bought potatoes and carrots. The fruit which is so plentiful in the East has not arrived here. Actually, there is no organization which would allow the four corners of the country to have the food they need. The fruit from the eastern part of the country remain there because there are truck drivers who stop at the roadside to buy from local producers. Bananas, for example, go as far as Tana. It’s a parallel trade organized by the truckers and completely unofficial. We saw fruit rotting on the ground in the East, whereas here there is nothing. Distribution between regions does not exist. Olivier explained that if the roads were in better condition it would be easier to move merchandise and Danz explained that the Malagasy eat what nature supplies, which is not necessarily fruit. We have seen a few very small rice fields at the bottom of valleys. It’s incredible that Madagascar, where rice is the staple food, does not produce enough rice for its own consumption and has to import it. Lychees are exported to the west and we find them in our super markets. It is a production managed by investors, who see to the planting of the trees, which do not grow wild. The fruit is treated before shipment so it will not rot. At the end of the stage we see mangos and jujube trees with fruit which is green because it is not the season.
Our camp is set up near the mile marker 280 km from Majunga; we are half way between Tananarive and Majunga at altitude of 273 meters. God but it’ hot. Serge’s face is crimson and for the first time salt has appeared on his clothes. I don’t know how he can stand the heat of the asphalt for so many hours.
At the 50th kilometer, we go through the village of Antanibary, which stretches out for 2 kilometers. There is a succession of dilapidated and dirty huts, nothing pleasant to see here. Hassina and Danz tell us that it is a village of gold prospectors. In this part of the country mechanized good prospecting is not authorized, only manual search, so the Malagasy come independently to search for a lode. It is worth noting that the Chinese are interested in mining. During the transition period, from 2009 to 2014 (following the putsch that overthrew the president Marc Ravolomanana) the Chinese invested heavily in the island. Some Malagasy speak of the pillage of their island.
But the Malagasy are not belligerent and seem to be resigned to all these transaction at a high level under cover of corruption.
In the end, we camp under 2 mango trees and, supreme pleasure, without too many mosquitoes. Below us the wide Ikopa River runs through two low hills. The scenery has changed again, which enables us to discover this multi-faceted country.