Living Vicariously As A Peripatetic Shutterbug

{ More musings from the Cantankerous Old Mule }

Throwback Thursday: 2010 in Tana

I originally lived in Madagascar from 2009 to 2011, shortly after then-president Marc Ravalomanana had been deposed. These are a few thoughts from April 2010, a year into the new (illegal) government’s reign.

14 April… Two days back at home and I’ve discovered that my fridge defrosts itself at more or less the same time every afternoon – around when people start coming home from work. Every day, like a tired old smoker it splutters, chokes, shudders and slips into a self-induced coma. Listening intently I wonder, “Will she wake up, oh, will she ever wake up again?” And then I find it gently purring to itself in the morning, as if the most natural thing in the world. Except that my milk develops a dangerous life of its own and I can’t keep anything in the freezer. This morning at around 4am I also woke up to the strangely-comforting sound of rushing water. It turns out my geyser had sprung a leak. A year ago I would have got upset. I’ve now learnt to shrug, turn off the mains and go back to sleep. Tomorrow’s another day. It’s things like this that keeps life interesting and beautiful in its simplicity!

16 April… Another little bizarre event in this country that thrives on the unusual… When I got home after dark on my trusty bicycle I found two men, one who introduced himself as a Colonel in the Gendarmes and working for inland security, waiting for me. He said he was looking for three South African men who had smuggled weapons and ammunition into the country last month, and who had used my address as their contact. Strange thing number one – they had names like Dimitri Vasiliev, Boris Popov and Yuri Alexandrov. Second thing – I don’t even know my address, so how some clandestine Russians posing as South Africans got hold of it is anyone’s guess … Just one of those strange little stories that make this country tick, but one that’s quite disturbing considering the talk on the streets of a possible counter-coup.

robin small bike18 April… I’ve borrowed a little scooter-like contraption from Craig, one of the guys in the church, for a week. It’s called a Gizmo Hero and is a bit like riding an underpowered lawnmower. It rattles, rings its bell at inopportune moments and struggles to make it up some of the many hills here in Tana. I expect I look really bizarre – this large white man on an excuse-for-a-bike weaving through the traffic. I can see that the country is straining more and more under this illegitimate government – often in the little things, like restaurants that can’t provide certain items, prices increasing, and more beggars on the streets. But this is where God has us. And it remains a beautiful country with beautiful people!

19 April… Air travel in Madagascar is unlike anything the first world normally experiences. There is often no checking of passports, or screening hand luggage. I just heard about a local pastor who got a great deal on live lobster while in Diego in the north of the island, and flew back with them in his hand luggage. No-one batted an eye!

21 April… Stories about planned coup d’etats, bombs in town, squabbling, bickering, chest beating. Nero fiddling while Rome burns… A common site is government convoys racing through this traffic stew. They seldom have flashing lights and sirens, so just have a few gendarmes hanging out of the windows wildly gesticulating and blowing maniacally on their whistles. (There was a joke going around here just after the coup last year that the army had sided with the current president but that the gendarmes would side with Marc, the former president. The joke is that the army had guns, but the gendarmes had much more powerful weapons – their whistles!)

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2 comments on “Throwback Thursday: 2010 in Tana

  1. Donna
    March 5, 2015

    Wow quite the story

  2. Bianca
    March 6, 2015

    Yep, we all love Madagascar.

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This entry was posted on March 5, 2015 by in Madagascar, Throwback Thursday, Writing and tagged , , , .
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