|My battle wounds from the Ranomafana leeches|
We were scheduled to leave ValBio on the morning of the 19th with our photographer friends from Antoetra. Their vehicle arrived at the station, and they jumped out to meet us with some perplexed looks. Evidently the driver had decided our gear could not go on top of the car and also couldn’t block the back window. We relentlessly tried to fit all the gear in the vehicle. We stuffed as much gear as possible in the back below the window and figured we would put the rest on our laps, but then the driver said "no," that was not OK either. The driver claimed it was a police violation and despite our efforts it was a no go.
|Male Aglyptodactylus madagascariensis|
The music blared loudly and we were on our to be 12 hour ride to Tana. We tried to sleep but the pot holes and sharp turns made it nearly impossible. For some reason Taxi brousses are stopped at just about every checkpoint by the police. We would come to a screeching halt and the police would shine there lights through the rows of bodies and we would be on our way. We stopped for dinner around 9 in Ambositra and enjoy an extremely large bowl of soup. Within about 5 minutes it seemed like we were on the taxi brousse holding our breath that the car would start.
Some hours later my seat neighbor was kicked out of the taxi, and we were joined by 2 policemen was AK 47s… not exactly what I had in mind for the rest of our journey. In about an hour they left and we gained a few more passengers making it a bit crowded in our row. In Antsirabe, our taxi brousse was officially out of commission and we had to switch to a different vehicle. Luckily there was one waiting for us, making the 4 am switch quite smooth. This new taxi brousse was outfitted with much more comfortable seats so getting a little shut-eye was somewhat possible. However, this driver was a very aggressive driver whipping around every turn at at least 80 km/h if not more. Around 5, we started picking up people along the road and soon there were 6 people squeezed in our row meant for 4 people and one person sitting backwards against the front passenger seat. The last 2 hours I was squished unable to move in any direction. But by 7 we had finally reached Tana and grabbed a taxi to the hotel where we had hoped to spend the night. We had survived the taxi brousse and made it to Tana before our planned departure at 8 am for Ambohintantely… so I would call our adventure a success.