Monday, July 5, 2010

Air Mad

Today I had to go to the agency of Air Madagascar here in down-town Tana. That felt like being thrown years back, since we buy all our tickets online now.

It was, as expected, full of people and slightly chaotic, and I felt a little lost. Amidst the chaos there was a little red beacon of hope: the good old-fashioned Take a Number Machine. I drew number 39, the screen was at 03. I was eagerly following its progress and it seemed to work; though very slowly, like one or two numbers per half hour.

Then other people came in, after me, waited a few minutes and their number came up right away! Humm? Well, it could be that these guys actually had taken a number way before I came in, but I was a little suspicious. Did they actually present their number to the ladies behind the counters? Yes they did.  
So how did they know at what time to come back??
There was no time indication or so. Had someone called them? I was puzzled, especially when it happened again and again, and they all had the right number...

Finally our driver clarified the mystery for me: you take a number and wait, but hey...this is Africa. If you don't want too wait long, you can buy a number for 2000 Ar (80 cents) from the Air Mada doorman, who sneaks out one ticket in every five or so, and sells them on! Ha ha, how entrepreneurial!


  1. ha! That's a great story, you painted it really well. That doorman was sneaky, but I found myself laughing with him. I sense there was no malice in his actions.

    Great new website too, if you ever want to promote it in my travel blog directory, you're more than welcome. You'll easily find it if you click through to my travel blog.

  2. Mooie website en prachtig dat jullie naar Tana zijn verhuisd. Alles goed afgeslten in Belize?
    Zal proberen jullie te volgen.
    Succes met landen, Hanneke

  3. Seems like you got your work cut out for you :)

    According to this dude who was in Belize a few years ago (Hernando de Soto, he's a rather famous peruvian economist who did work in Egypt, he even have his own wikipedia page!), that's the classic sign of a massive informal economy going on --and that's very bad

    for example if a guy who buys a house, he might just pay the owner some money and move in because one either have to pay a lot of money to get the paper work done or one has to wait for another 15 years for the bureaucracy to take care of it .

    and with each successive transaction, the amount of money needed to get the paper work increases... cos the back log of paper work increases...

    Since for the most part people have an economic incentive to NOT pay the extra money to do some non-urgent paper works, a large number of people will lack proper paperwork for their properties decades after they own it. and if in the mean time they sell their property, the new owner will have to wait until the next ice age to get the paper work done

    And when that happens people can't easily sell their properties to, say foreign investors, or take out a loan in a bank to start small businesses... (those folks generally demand paper work, while locals can just take one's word for it)

    and when that happens the economy goes south. and Eurohippies get to have nice aid worker jobs >.>

    does that theory apply to good old madagascar?

  4. So the next place you go and there are'll know what to do. If you can't beat them join them.... On-On

  5. Not sure if Madagascar has property registration at all.