We departed Ivato, a suburb of Antananarivo on September 7th, heading off for the next 5 weeks in a 4×4 Nissan with tires that look like they have been used for the full 93,000 kms that are on the truck odometer. Our fingers are crossed as the spare doesn’t look much better and in about 5 or 6 days we will be travelling on the RN5, one of the worst roads on the planet according to a BBC series titled “The World’s Most Dangerous Roads” and the “Land Rover Camel Trophy”! We shall see.
As our luck would and wouldn’t have it, the Pope, yes, the one, the only Pope Francis, was scheduled to arrive on the afternoon of the 6th. Fortunately we arrived the afternoon of the 5th. We have no idea what kind of mayhem we would have encountered had we arrived the same day as the Pope. The airport is very small so it would have been chaos. As it was though, before leaving on the 7th we talked to the front desk manager at Susie’s Place, a very nice home converted into a B&B in Ivato where we spent two nights, and asked him if the route shown on Google Maps and Maps.me would take us around Antananarivo rather than through it. We have very little respect lately for our little electronic navigation helpers. He wasn’t too sure but it looked like the routes would take us through rather than around the city. As he tried to explain an alternate route and our eyes glazed over due to the fact we didn’t have a clue what he was talking about one of the office assistants handed him a piece of paper. “Pope visit road closures”! Hmmmm…not looking too good. Where there is a will there’s a way and with that we paid one of his staff to guide us out of the city on his motorcycle. It took close to one hour until we finally reached near the outskirts of Tana but it was worth it as we saw amazing sites and scenery on our way. Below are some iPhone pics from our drive through Tana.