Thursday, June 9, 2011

Moving On

"I should have tried to get Guy to come with me to Antsirabe," I thought at I sat on the taxi brousse in the Tana bus park. Entrepreneurs kept shoving the dollar store in my face as I waited for the van to fill up and depart.

"No. No thanks. I really don't want that. Or that. Or that. You again? I promise you that I don't want nail clippers or a watch. Why don't you sell something useful like a lemur lamp?"

But no one brought me a lemur lamp. Instead, they brought me another tourist and deposited him on the seat next to me. I'd been alone all of twenty minutes.

This other tourist was confident, brash, knew everything, and had made a mistake once in 1979, when he was three. He was both decent company and exasperating, because one thing I really don't like to be around is someone who has no concept of self-doubt.

When we arrived at Antsirabe, we tried Chez Billy—the budget lodge—but it was full so we headed over towards Green Park, while pousse-pousse operators dogged our steps.

A pousse-pousse is the Madagascar version of a rickshaw, where a sometimes-barefoot man drags you around in a wheeled carriage. Horrifying, right? But that's how local people get around, and there are hundreds of these pousse-pousses all over town, and every few minutes someone asks hopefully: "Pousse-pousse?"

The other tourist engaged the services of a pousse-pousse to carry our luggage while we strolled alongside. The pousse-pousse did try to get us to his own choice of hotels but in time, we ended up at Green Park, which turned out to be a series of bungalows set around a beautiful garden. My bungalow was wonderful, though we did go back to Chez Billy for dinner, where I ordered a zebu steak. That's a sort of Madagascar cow-like thing, but with a fatty hump.

"Un peu rouge?" I was trying to get a little bit of pink in the center. This somehow worked out, and while I was enjoying my zebu steak, my new friend decided I should read his poetry. On his iPad. He stuck it in my face and went outside to smoke a cigarette.

What the hell. 

I ate my zebu steak a little faster.

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