Yesterday’s ride went more or less straight south, parallel to the coast but some 8 to 16km inland. The road was undulating but had no long significant climbs.
This was going to change today, as the road turns east here in Ampasimanolotra (aka Brickaville) and climbs up to the highlands that dominate the central parts of the island at an altitude of 1000m (on average, very roughly). Antananarivo, the capital, where I was headed, is at ~1300m.
After a weak breakfast and 50km of cycling into the hills I felt that this was not a good day. I decided to hitch-hike the rest to Tana (the colloquial short form of Antananarivo). And, luckily, the first truck did indeed stop and agreed to take me and my bike for an agreeable price.
After a while the engine stopped working and we stopped dead on the road. The driver knew the problem, however, and immediately started sucking diesel out of the tank and into a jerrycan. He then removed the fuel pipes from the tank and tied their ends directly into the canister. Apparently the fuel is not very clean and the fuel filters had given up. He was happily smoking a cigarette while working on fixing the issue. I stood a few meters to the side and entertained myself directing traffic past the obstacle.
We didn’t make it to Tana. My driver stopped in Moramanga, about half way between Ampasimanolotra/Brickaville and Tana, but still demanded the full negotiated fare. It was dark by then. He did, however, find me a new ride, which didn’t cost me anything (both the ride as well as the finding one).
The new truck driver was a bit more cheerful and his truck had more stamina, and we did make it to Tana at last. He dropped me off I-don’t-know-where, pointing me roughly in the direction of the centre. I had no choice but to set out and hope I was going in the right direction. There were no people anywhere to ask. This is possibly explained by the fact that Germany was playing Spain in the finale of the European Football Championship. Or maybe the streets are always this quiet on a Sunday night in Tana?
I did make it to the centre (were some public viewing was going on), and I managed to find the bar where I was meeting my couchsurfing host by hiring a taxi driver to show me the way (by driving ahead…).
Germany had just lost 0:1. (Though I didn’t care much at the time.)
Cycled: 50km, hitch-hiked about 200km