63.5km en 8H16′
We have been on the road for 15 days and there has been no rain during running time. One night there was a storm but the sun was shining the next morning, however, this morning the sky is overcast. The scenery is all flat due to the grayness. And to think that it’s a beautiful, sunny day in Paris (dixit Zette).
The start was at 5H00 AM, not only because it was cooler at that hour but also because a bridge will be closed to traffic between 6H00 and 18H00, with 2 slots of one hour when vehicles can cross, between 10/11h and 14/15h. We should be able to cross with the truck between 10H and 11H.
In any case, we are not hampered by the heat and it’s nice after the furnace of yesterday. Serge still has a fine stride and seems to be at ease, even if last night was rather uncomfortable: too hot in the tent, then gusts of wind and finally the rain. This cocktail did not make for a peaceful night. Serge always needs to eliminate the heat he accumulates during the day and last night it wasn’t possible. It reminded us of Senegal, where Serge wet a bath towel ever few hours all night long…
Yesterday we were contacted by Delphine, a friend of Fifou (from Sainte Marie, he ensured the exit by plane) Delphine organizes dugout canoe regattas, these took place on Easter weekend. Our paths crossed when she was going back to Tana. With the help of her friends, she is going to organize a fine welcome for Serge in Majunga, which has the 2nd most important harbor in the country. Guillaumette, her friend, has lived in Majunga for 25 years and her husband is an ocean navigator. They are expecting us which is heartwarming.
The mood of our troops is a bit soft : an early rise at 4H15 for us but even earlier for Danz and Hassina, the stress of crossing the bridge, however, we were privileged to have been warned by Danz and Hassina’s friends yesterday. There was no sign or information about the hazard of a closed bridge for ten hours a day!
I met the head of the construction site who explained that this single-lane bridge was built in 1927 and since then no maintenance has been performed. Overweight trucks had damaged the structure. The repair work is divided between France and Madagascar and financed by the world fund of ??? I don’t know what. The 276 meter span is over the Betsiboka River, the estuary of which is at Majunga. The color of the water does not invite one to bathe or to wash one’s laundry but its width and the amount of water that passes are impressive. Such a force of nature makes us feel very small. The rain stopped shortly before Maevatanana (literal translation: beautiful city) and this strategic place allows us to do some quick shopping because Serge does not stop. We had just the time to tell him that he should take the left fork, to buy some mineral water and chocolate, which Serge has requested for the past three days (with the heat it has to be eaten immediately), some gasoline for the generator, bread for everyone’s pleasure, especially Danz who eats 2 or 3. Danz bought us menakely, sort of donuts, which are excellent except for our diet and of course the mofogasy (sweet rice cakes with or without coconut) which we have taken to eating almost daily but with moderation because they are fried in oil. Serge, who has no weight problem eats them too, but my visual scale tells me that he has not lost weight.
This afternoon we are at an altitude of 200 meters. From behind the clouds the sun is hot, which is hard to explain. In any case, you are sticky even if you don’t move and Serge is ringing wet even when it isn’t raining. He changes clothes at km 48, after the bridge, and rinses off with a bit of fresh water because he has chaffing between the thighs which is rather painful. The camp is set up a bit further than Serge planned but good spots are few and we always do what we can to find the best spot in relation to the mileage our runner wants to clock. Having to run an extra 2km did not affect him, which is a good thing.
Today, except at Maetavanana where the network pulsed, there was no network, even for our cell phones! René could not speak with his wife, Michelle, with whom he talks every day. I did not see anything of the city because I was on the computer answering e-mails or updating the website. Hassina had a headache today and Danz, wearing his earphones, walked 5 km in the rain. I had a good laugh at camp when I saw Serge lying outside, practically naked and with his sun glasses: “Moogli superstar waiting for his mother wolf” the title of a remake? Maybe I’m the only one to laugh at this. Who knows?
Rain and the bridge -
63.5km en 8H16′