Taxi brousses are the bane of my existence in this country (is that the right saying?). You are told to show up at 630a because the brousse is leaving at 7a. However, you don’t end up pulling out of the station until 9a (at the earliest). The cars are crammed, no space to relax and the overwhelming aroma of gasoline is something to look forward to for the entire ride. Living so close to Fianarantsoa, I am lucky to take only a 45min taxi brousse ride from Alakamisy Ambohimaha. However, if I want to go anywhere else, settle in for a long ride. From Alakamisy to Tana was a little more than 9 hours in a brousse, with a 30m stop for lunch. Bathroom breaks consist of “azafady, manao recreation ve?” (meaning, can we have a potty break where I can go hid behind trees and go to the bathroom). Which means, no thank you, I can hold it. And then there is the endless parade of people throwing up. When someone throws up in this country, the brousse does not stop, but rather you ask for a plastic bag and then throw it out the window when you’re done. Yep, that’s how we roll. I have gotten pretty good at knowing when people will be sick. Right after lunch break, put that music on loud. An hour into the ride, like clockwork, someone will throw up. And whenever you hear “misy sachet ve?” (is there a plastic bag?), turn that music up. On the ride down from Sandrandahy (I made a quick pit stop into Amy’s town to see how she lives) to my site, I lost track of how many people threw up after 20. Mind you, there was probably 30 in this brousse. Good percentage right? And the guy sitting directly next to me consisted of 8 of those throw ups. Splendid. And another guy on my brousse decided to take the six hour drive as preaching time. And by preaching, I mean yelling God’s words as we were jostling down the road. Even with my music on, I heard him loud and clear. And even after I stated azafady, tsy miteny francais aho (sorry, I don’t speak French), I got “ah, you only speak english. Nice to meet you.”……in French.
Taxi brousses are a hit or miss experience. Sometimes I get the best brousses and don’t want to get off when I get home. Other times, we haven’t gotten ten feet and I’m already screaming “get me out of here” in my head. Oh well, just another day in Madagascar.