Jo engages with the locals

Scaring the Natives

Jo engages with the locals

Jo engages with the locals

The road is the community – as it is in much of the developing world and Madagascar is no exception.

Villages proliferate along the fringe of the bitumen, and there are folks walking all day long it seems, between town and country. Heading away from the main arterial, the foot traffic thins out a bit, the vehicular traffic disappears and you become a genuine attraction wherever you stop.

People here are extremely friendly, always waving and never a cross word. They may be poor, some even destitute, but they face each day with a disposition that matches their lack of material possessions – uncaring, just glad to be here. But in the outback when you haven’t seen anyone for half an hour of riding and then you come across someone meandering – it can be as much a fright for them as it is for you.

Indeed yesterday, when happening upon a trio of school-age girls skipping along the road verge (I say school age because most kids don’t go to school here – indeed I haven’t seen a school yet), they got such a fright they hared off into the scrub as though they were being chased by a lion (in 3 different directions). I felt terrible, it was pure fear they felt, and it reminded me instantly of just how innocent this country remains.

Thankfully that was the exception and most of the young’uns, although full of trepidation when approached, do engage and you have a great time trying to communicate. No cynicism of youth here it seems, too busy working to help their parents scratch a living, to be fussed about the material world.