Tuesday, January 18, 2011

How to Add Seven Years to Your Life in Madagascar

We've been here for over 6 months now, and  for the most I have good experiences. Apart from one... which  really exhausts me sometimes.

Driving around in this city is really stressful, to say the least, mainly for three reasons:

1. People and traffic jams EVERYWHERE. People are walking on the street en masse, and you have to drive through markets and their hundreds of people.

2. It's horribly hot with the sun on your car - investing in air-conditioning seems worthwhile - and you can't open the windows because of stinky fumes and security issues (I always 'hide' my purse under the passenger's seat - you just never know)

3. There are millions of vendors and beggars. How many times per day can one politely decline to buy: 'Chanel' sunglasses and ditto perfume, Scrabble or Monopoly games, electrical mosquito rackets, dish towels, dust towels, beach towels, wash towels, whatever towels, sponges, car seat covers, Christmas lights and hats, mobile phone chargers, etc, etc

Sometimes it would take me 1.5 hours to come back home from work, and I would be physically exhausted. Not conducive for family life.

So I decided to hire a driver, like every other sensible expat man and woman here. But how to find a trust-worthy, not-too-old driver without B.O that lives nearby our house? Yes, these were my three criteria. I know, typical female. A man would probably ask for an experienced driver with a valid driver's license who knows his way around the city and can change a tire.

I am being driven around like a princess...
To cut a long story short: I have found my driver. His name is Tina and he came highly highly recommended, from three different sources. He is young, he smells fresh, and lives at 5 minutes walking distance from our house.  There's only one thing. He just doesn't look like a driver. But then again, my mother always taught me not to judge a book by its cover, didn't yours?

I am so happy to be driven around here. It saves my day, I can drink coffee in the car, read a book, send text messages, and, most of all, I come home without feeling stressed.  I just added seven years to my life! 

Meet Tina! (pronounce Teen)


  1. Hi!:) I've been thinking about transportation and traffic in Tana. I'm going to move to Tana and was wondering should I use taxis, scooters or hire a driver... Is it safe to use a scooter in Tana in the daytime, I mean what comes to security? -Anna-

  2. The blog is very good!

  3. Hello Anna!

    A scooter is definately the best way to get around in Tana, as it's the only way to avoid being stuck in traffic jams for hours. Just drive carefully!

    Taxis are okay too, though most are really old 'crappy' cards. Hiring a driver is a good option as well, but you can't avoid the jams.

    Good luck!

  4. A very wise move, I'd say! In the last three months alone I have heard of several vazaha hitting pedestrians with their cars - a few times causing fatalities. And Malagasy law makes it anything but easy for them afterwards. Having lived here for around two years now, and riding a motorbike everywhere, I've found that the traffic and pedestrians on the street is getting worse - I don't have an answer for why either...