Another, and another, and another...and one more for good measure.

Similar to various other Peace Corps countries, transportation in Madagascar was always very entertaining...as long as you had a bit of patience, and flexibility...physical flexibility.

I was waiting for a car in Sakaramy for about 45 minutes, and at 7am one finally showed up.  Now keep in mind this car was tiny; a Geo Metro would have seemed to have luxurious amounts of space compared to this car.   While in my home village of Sakaramy, we loaded two huge bushels of bananas on top of the car, I sat in the front seat, while three others piled in the back, and the driver hopped in and we started off down the road.  We went another 200 meters or so, when there was another guy standing along side the road with two huge gunny sacks of rice.  As the driver came to a halt, I quickly took a look around the inside of the car.  It seemed pretty apparent to me that our car was full, after all there was a shifter centered on the floor in between the two front seats, so no third seat was available.  But after strapping the two huge bags of rice on top, the guy performed some sort of challenging gymnastic routine to squeeze into the back seat.  And so we set off down the road.  We went no more than 100 meters, when there was a pregnant lady and her toddler standing by the roadside, and of course we stopped.  I did another once over of the car, I looked at the driver and he motioned for me to scoot over.  So I wedged myself as close to the shifter as possible, and the pregnant lady and her toddler squeezed into the front seat.  I didn’t really know how the driver was going to be able to shift, as my left hip was going to prevent him from reaching anything above second maybe third gear.  But again we took off down the road.

Turned out shifting wasn't going to be our only problem.  We got maybe 2 miles down the road when the car engine began to cough and then cut out.  We came to a rolling stop, and the driver informed us that we were out of gas.  So the driver and two of the guys in the back seat got out and started pushing the car.  There was about a half of kilometer stretch of uphill road separating us from the next little village…where I thought we would be able to get a little gas.  After about 10 minutes we approached the little store in the village, the driver hopped in while the two guys in the back repeated their little gymnastic routine to fit into the back seat.  Instead of getting a little gas, the driver told me that most of the rest of the road was downhill, so it wouldn’t be a problem.  And sure enough the rest of the ride we mostly coasted downhill, and every so often we would need a little push if we ran out of momentum.  We made the trip of just over 8 miles, with no gas, in about 30 minutes.  And the best part is that, it was a pretty normal taxi ride for Madagascar .



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“Sunset at the Railroad” by PCV Nicholas Baylor Hall. Namibia, 2011.