Wednesday I traveled to Vangaindrano. In addition to teaching in Farafangana, I teach at the hospital, seminary, and the school in Vangaindrano. Originally, I was traveling to Vangaindrano to teach every three weeks, but this last time it had been over 4 months since I last taught there. In January there was an outbreak of plague in some of the rural villages surrounding Vangaindrano; it may not have been a problem in the town, but since I teach at the hospital, the decision was made that I should wait it out.
After a late night preparing the extra lesson plans, I struck out at first light, 5:30 AM to catch the first taxi-brousse. In the past I’ve caught a brousse as early as 5:00 AM but Wednesday, I was the first one to arrive at the brousse station – the brousse doesn’t leave till it’s full so I settled in for a wait. People started setting up their food stands across the road from the station. They’d arrive, with a man pulling a rickshaw next to them; the rickshaw’s seat is pilled with everything for the food stand: ingredients, cups and spoons, a mat for the table, and a charcoal stove is hanging from a hook on the back corner of the rickshaw.
I bought a cup of tea and two mofo baolina, balls of fried dough not unlike a donut, from one stand for breakfast. I met a man named Tom, we passed the time talking and although, as usual, I didn’t understand most of what was said, we enjoyed each other’s company. At 7:15, after about an hour and a half of waiting, the taxi-brousse was ready to depart and all twenty-two of us passengers piled into the van. It’s about 55 miles to Vangaindrano or a two-hour drive; as we pass through villages, the brousse often stops to drop people off and then pick up new passengers.
To see Ben’s entire May update (with pictures), download Ben’s May 2017 Newsletter.