Sunday, May 11, 2014

Top Ten List: Driving in Mada


Top Ten Reasons Why Driving in Mada is Different than Driving in the United States

Madagascar (Mada) is roughly the size of Texas, and just like the United States, Mada has major “highways” for traveling North, South, East, and West.  However, the road conditions in Mada are not quit the same.

#1 Cattle:  In America you may slam on your brakes for the occasional deer, or if you’re from our neck of the woods in Florida, an alligator.  In Mada screeching to a halt for a herd of Zebu, goats or chickens is an everyday occurrence.
#2 Babies:  As you race through the windy, mountainous roads of RN7 (the major highway headed south toward Tulear) you not only need to dodge the ever present herd of cattle and goats, but more heart wrenching are the small children on the road carrying small babies attached with cloth lambas on their backs.
#3 Speed Bumps: AKA “potholes”. Really, potholes isn’t even the best word. More like craters that open up from nowhere and try to swallow the vehicle in one gulp!
#4 Kilometers:  Painted rocks which resemble tombstones help us keep track of how many kilometers we are from the next town. They are surprisingly accurate and help us pass the time due to the fact that the license plate game is not an option here.

#5 Beggars: When the car approaches a town, you may see children or men holding shovels or rakes smoothing straw or gravel over the potholes in the road. When they see you slow down, they open their arms palms up in hopes of money for “improving” the road conditions.


#6 Scenery: Oh, it’s absolutely beautiful. The scenery changes so drastically throughout the trip that you wonder if you are still in the same country. From mountains and greenery to grassland plains to rock mountains to the desert - there is a little bit of everything! Do you remember the Sunday School flannel graph background of a green hillside with random large rocks…yep, you can almost see the story of the lost sheep, or Jesus multiplying bread and fish on the drive south.
#7 Rest Stops: Tall grass on the side of the road. No need to say more.
#8 Check Points: These can be tricky. Random checkpoints are set up around the country and run by local police or military. If they wave your car to the side they can be looking for 1) a bribe, 2) a bribe, 3) a bribe. We have been stopped for all three!
#9 Traffic: The entire week of Easter in this country is considered a holiday week - oh, not for Passion Week mind you, no, it is more like Panama City on Spring Break. Traffic is absolutely horrid. The roads are solid kilometers of foot traffic. It is like driving through the mall area in Washington DC just after the 4th of July fireworks have ended. 
#10 Baggies: After traveling for a while you will begin to notice that there are small plastic bags every so often on the side of the road.  If you happen to follow a taxi brousse (large public transportation vehicle loaded with 45 people in 12 seats) too closely you will see a blue, pink or yellow “baggie” being tossed from the vehicle. Maybe you are more familiar with the white paper bags located in the seat back in front of you?  Word to the wise...don't pick them up!


1 comment:

  1. I always enjoy reading your blogs and seeing pictures of your family. I continue to pray for the success of your mission, and I thought of you this morning as I read my Experiencing God devotional... "Missions is God finding those whose hearts are right with Him and placing them where they can make a difference for His kindgom..." May God bless you abundantly for answering His call and making a difference in the lives you touch. A special 'hello' to your children from Mrs. Condee!

    ReplyDelete