Drive to Tana and Back

Initially, I thought I could come up with some clever analogy between the marriage and the drive. It's a verrrrryyyyy long, long drive, with non-stop sharp turns, trucks turned over on their sides, near-misses (we nearly hit the ditch once)....but if you can always stick your head out of the window and enjoy the journey of the fresh air and amazingly beautiful scenery... and marriage can be the same, blah blah blah....or some other crap like that.

But - I've never been married, so, what the hell do I know about comparing marriage to the roads, journey, blah blah blah. Therefore - the drive to Tana and back gets a post of it's own - separate from wedding events (that and it has taken me forever to load all of these pictures....MG internet still sucks!)

My first picture is quite appropriate - we hadn't even left Tamatave and are pulled over by the military. Rule #2 (see Rule #1) is that you are NOT allowed to take pictures of the military or police - and they mean business. If you are caught without your visa/passport - you are put in prison until you can produce it (this includes myself and any other expatriate).

But, I thought this made a good shot...for the blog, of course. I carefully put my lens out the window....and hoped they wouldn't hear my camera click... (our driver is on the left)

While they were checking him out, I got out of the car and said hello to these SUPER cute little girls. I always regret not carrying candies with me wherever I go so that I can hand them out (but...who am I kidding...if I carried candies with me wherever I went, I would just eat candies wherever I went....)
The one on the left LOOOOVVVEEEDD seeing herself on camera.

And in their basket, they had a bunch of teeny kittens. They were adorable (no, I didn't touch them. Side note: I am working on a plan to get Tovy some flea drops when I come back after my Canada visit in May).

I was kind of worried about the kittens....why where they all in a basket? Was would happen to them? Were they going to be drowned or something?
I asked my driver and he assured me that nooooooo, the kittens would never be killed. The mom of these two little girls is probably just bringing them to some family members or someone who had asked for some kittens.

I'm not sure if that's really what's going to happen...but for sanity's sake...I'm going to believe it.

And then, we started the SEVEN AND A HALF HOUR DRIVE.....The driver had his CD collection, so we let him pick what he wanted to listen to. First, we listened to Allan Jackson...

We stopped in Brickaville for lunch. They were out of pork, chicken, fish - but had some beef and shrimp.

I opted out of either...and hoped for the best with a plate of fries and a peanut butter sandwich I had in the car. Not so healthy....but safe-ish, sort of...(I'm a little paranoid still after my hospital stay).

Back on the road. Next up on the playlist: Randy Travis

...still Randy Travis playing (our driver freaking loves old country...)

One of three rolled trucks. The corners on these roads are insane....

....Randy Travis still playing....

Eventually, it got too dark for me to take pictures (must look at buying a stronger flash when I get back to Canada).

We got to the hotel. Ahhh....the hotel. It was almost first-world worthy....

Went down for supper and ordered a Mojito - my most FAVORITE drink. I was a bit hesitant because it has fresh mint... and fresh produce is always a bit of a risk... but, I lived on the edge...and hoped the rum would kill any of the bacteria.
This looks wonderful....but its wonderfulness ended there... It was so super salty... I ordered some shrimp as well (and lived to tell about it, again see Rule #1), and they were sooooo salty.

The portions are very small, so I had room for desert. And, for the first time in my life - EVER - like....I was almost ready to take myself to a doctor - I thought the desert was TOO chocolaty... I couldn't even finish it.

This band played awesome music as our dinner music. They rocked. (I have no idea what the instrument in the middle was.)

And then I crashed to bed by....22h00... I know... what a freaking party animal....
But I had a wedding to go to.

After the wedding, I came back to the hotel, took a few pictures (here is one of me....I've had a few complaints that I don't put enough pictures of myself on the blog...ahem..)

And then after my massage and banana sandwich, it was bedtime again.

Sunday morning came and went, and soon enough it was time to hit the road. But I wanted to buy three things: Juice, pop, and ice. Seems like a fairly logical request? For an eight hour drive?

Nope. Stores in Madagascar don't sell ice. The hotel wouldn't give or sell me ice. So I have this cute little cooler (it's so cute it should have a picture on here...), but no ice. We drove around for AN HOUR to FINALLY found some ice. And THE ONLY can of cold coke available. This was freaking brutal...but very Madagascar.
While the driver was paying, these boys saw my camera and wanted me to take a picture.

They loved seeing themselves on camera and laughed so hard when they saw their pictures.

Now with pop and ice (couldn't find juice), we were off on the road again. I got to choose the music....but decided to 'roll with the country theme. Dixie Chicks it was...(Our driver had never heard of them, but I think he liked the music).

....Still Dixie Chicks playing....
One of the rolled trucks was still there on the way back to Toamasina.

I think our driver really had to go to the washroom, because he just pulled over, got out of the car, and said, I'm eating here. And then kind of took off - which isn't like him. So we all got out and walked around.

Here in Amabodiamontana, us white folk caused quite the scene... little kids would walk by us...staring, some brave enough to say "Hello" back (in Malagasy)...
And some huddled in a group and stared (I'm nearly getting used to this).

About twenty minutes of walking our driver had done his business and/or eaten lunch, we headed back on the road (there was no vaza-friendly food available - our lunch options were granola bars, cookies, Mars bars and/or pop.)

Another grueling 292 km to go... (Initially, I had said the drive was 245.78 km to 267.15km, but the road markers indicate its about 305km)

More driving, more Dixie Chicks, and more picture taking until it got dark or I got car sick - whichever came first.

None of my pictures capture how crazy this road truly is. So - I created one. An aerial photo would look pretty much like this (and no, I'm not kidding):
(Not included in the legend are the yellow lines. Those mark chicken/goat/cow crossings which have zero warning and require the driver to slam on his brakes. Now I understand why there are no drive-thru coffee shops in Madagascar. Drinking hot beverages at any time in a moving vehicle while in Madagascar is far too risky.)

The scenery on this drive was amazing... but ick...this is NOT a drive I want to make twice in my life. I'm SO happy we went to the wedding and showed our support for our co-worker... and happy that I gave Tana a second chance it was so much better than my first time there. But what made me REALLY happy?? That I made it back from this drive - puke-free (with the help of some medication) and ever better - injury-free and alive!!!


  1. ice? no Gravol? no beer? ...thank God for Country Music... :)

  2. Wow - what a stunning trip....

  3. Oh Nicole, is that road ever bad. It's worse than the road to Tofino. God bless you for surviving it. Love G@G xxoo