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Traffic jam on the RN35 towards Malaimbandy
Home » Africa » Madagascar » Madagascar on a scooter | Part 8 | Morondava – Malaimbandy (155 km)

Madagascar on a scooter | Part 8 | Morondava – Malaimbandy (155 km)

Who gets it in their head to buy a second-hand scooter in the capital of Madagascar to buy? To travel more than 4.000 km over this enormous island? No one before me had ever come up with this idea. I just did it and discovered the real Madagascar. Travel with me to the Red Island and get to know the baobabs, lemurs, chameleons, snow-white beaches and above all the hospitable Malagasy: TONGA SOA. In this part I travel from Morondava to Malaimbandy with some bad luck on the way. And to top it all off, I can spend the night in prison…

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Cleaning my scooter in Bemanonga

Fresh and fruity, I said goodbye to the Kimony Resort staff at half past eight. Fifteen minutes later it is already bingo, because after all those days my scooter is sputtering through the sand on the famous Baobablaan. In Bemanonga I report for a cleaning. Unfortunately there is no workshop with a pressure washer and I have to rely on a hand wash.

Cleaning in Bemanonga
Cleaning in Bemanonga

After cleaning it goes fine at first. The sun is shining and it's nice and cozy on the road. I am enjoying everything around me again. After 60 km I stop in Magnamby at a school.

Crowds on the road towards Ankilizato
Crowds on the road towards Ankilizato
A wash in the river
A wash in the river

Very bad luck on the way to Ankilizato

It is slowly but surely becoming clear that there is more going on with my scooter. Now that the road is slowly going up, I hear all kinds of strange noises from the sounder.

Landscape along the RN35 towards Ankilizato
Landscape along the RN35 towards Ankilizato

At half past one it finally happened. Even with the expert help of a few passers-by, my scooter is no longer able to move. A local education inspector offers to tie a rope to his motorcycle and take me in tow. His brother has a motorcycle workshop in Ankilizato. "If he can't fix your scooter, nobody can."

The scooter can no longer be burned
The scooter can no longer be burned
In tow behind this motorbike to Ankilizato
In tow behind this motorbike to Ankilizato

It is quite difficult to follow the engine. Almost twenty kilometers it is dragging and pulling. Around half past one we reach the workshop in Ankilizato. The problem turns out to be bigger than expected. The scooter is almost completely dismantled and cleaned, but nothing seems to help. Only after an hour and a half the mechanic has found the ultimate shortcoming: 'It can't be anything other than your exhaust pipe. We have to cut it in half and clean it.'

Looking for the problem of the scooter in Agilizato
Looking for the problem of the scooter in Ankilizato
Pipe repair in Ankilizato
Pipe repair in Ankilizato

In the meantime I have the greatest fun with the children of the village. They all want to listen to the music from my headphones. Michael Jackson is clearly the favourite.

Test headphones by children in Ankilizato
Test headphones by children in Ankilizato

Around half past five, the exhaust pipe is welded together again. At six o'clock I am driving again and I am in rush hour traffic. On a kilometer indicator along the road I read that Malaimbandy is still 52 kilometers away. That means I must speed up, because darkness is approaching.

Rush hour on the road to Ampandabre
Rush hour on the road to Ampandabre

After about thirty kilometers it is time for a short coffee break.

Coffee stop 30 km before Malaimbandy
Coffee stop 30 km before Malaimbandy
Malaimbandy 52 km to go
Malaimbandy 52 km to go

Arrival after dark in Malaimbandy

Everything is fine. There is no wind, nice and warm and I am driving on a perfect asphalt road. Around seven I reach the fork of the RN34 towards Miandrivazo and the RN35 towards Malaimbandy. There are a few cars parked at a hotel. I park my scooter and report to the hotel restaurant. There I meet a young couple from Drenthe. They are the first Dutch people I meet in Madagascar. They are wildly enthusiastic about Madagascar.

Sunset near Malaimbandy

It's very cozy and I forget the time. At eight o'clock I decide to ask if there is a room available in the hotel. "Sorry, we're fully booked," the receptionist says. "Do you know any other hotel?" 'No, not here. Only in Miandrivazo, but that is more than two hours away. Or just maybe in Malaimbandy across the bridge.'

Waking up in the prison of Malaimbandy

Over a rickety bridge and then three kilometers of sand I reach Malaimbandy. There is only one light in the village. That light comes from a shop. In front of it are three Malagasy in apparent condition. 'Vaza!' one of them shouts. 'What are you doing?' "I'm looking for a place to sleep." The owner immediately comes out and takes over the conversation. 'Walk after me. My brother lives opposite. He is the mayor of Malaimbandy. He's going to help you.'

Village House of Malaimbandy
Village House of Malaimbandy

His brother, the mayor, is hospitality itself. He first welcomes me to Malaimbandy on behalf of all residents and then asks if he can do something for me. I explain to him that I had some bad luck on the way and was unable to find a hotel. 'There is no hotel or guesthouse in Malaimbandy. But of course we can't leave you out in the cold. The only place to sleep we have is in prison. There's no one there now. So if you don't mind spending a night in jail. Then follow me.'

The mayor takes a flashlight and I follow him into a courtyard. There are two guards playing with their cell phones. "I have a guest for the night," he says. 'This vaza is looking for a bed. We can put him to sleep in jail, can't we?'

Gendarmerie Malaimbandy
Gendarmerie Malaimbandy

The guards give me a pillow and wish me a good night.

Sleeping place in the cozy prison of Malaimbandy
Sleeping place in the cozy prison of Malaimbandy

The next morning the mayor is standing in front of my cell at eight o'clock. "I want to invite you to breakfast." Of course I won't decline that offer. 'Walk after me. We're going to eat at Jeanette's. She makes the tastiest poffertjes. Nice and crispy and fresh!'

Fresh poffertjes on the market in Malaimbandy
Jeanette the poffertjes baker on the market in Malaimbandy
Breakfast at the market in Malaimbandy
Breakfast at the market in Malaimbandy

There I am at the Malaimbandy market having breakfast with the mayor and many other residents. 'That's how it goes here every day. Cozy right?' After the excellent breakfast, the mayor leads me to the Malaimbandy gas station.

The gas station of Malaimbandy
The gas station of Malaimbandy

It promises to be an exciting day. On to Antsirabe and further south…

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Eric on a scooter in Uganda

Eric

What is it like to drive more than 10.000 kilometers in Madagascar on a locally bought scooter? Or on a pikipiki (scooter in Swahili) through East Africa? In more than 20 years I have visited more than 100 countries. This has resulted in a lot of priceless travel experiences, which I would like to share with you.

ERIC – OVER 100 COUNTRIES
– Currently in Kenya.
– Share unique travel experiences.
– Favorite destinations: Madagascar, Uganda, Japan, India and Colombia.

Seen a mistake? Ask? Remark? Let us know in the comments!

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Eric on a scooter in Uganda

Eric

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