Sunday, May 8, 2011

BumbleBUTT and other transporation systems (trips to and fro)

We had the ….. privelege of driving a 1995 two door puegot (only one door opened from the outside). This lovely BRIGHT yellow car was a standard with NO power stearing. Not usually a big deal, the no power stearing part, except for when you're driving on the road from Tana to Foulpointe which makes a snake curled up sleeping look straight, comparatively speaking! Needless to say, my arms and left thigh got a great work out.

Now, why the name BumbleBUTT? Because it looked like a bee (minus the antennae) – and it was a pain in my BUTT. Get it? BumbleBUTT? Now, the only good thing about BumbleBUTT was that we rented it from MAF (Mission Aviation Fellowship) and were assured that it was in good mechanical condition. Always a plus when driving in a developing country!

We left Sunday morning around 8:45 am with the mission in mind of arriving at Tamatave around 5:00 pm. Mission accomplished. (We had stopped at Andansibe, which is about ½ way to Tamatave, for a quick picnic lunch.)  The picture to the left is of the cool train tunnel that Seth and Cole got to pee off of...they thought that was REALLY cool!

On the way to Tamatave I saw a taxibe take the curve infront of us too wide and it was headed right towards us on our side of the road. I slammed the breaks on, throw the car in reverse and onto the gravel off the road. At the same time I was doing this Seth was puking....thankfully into a ziplock bag. Thank you ziplock!

We made it to Tamatave on time (more about our experience in Tamatave in the next blog to come). The next morning we left for Foulpointe and arrived finally after about 1 ½ hrs of driving down the road (that's right, there's only one road that leads there) that was like driving a country road with potholes big enough to swallow the car. We'd enter a pot hole and say we were dying and then coming out of the pot hole was the resurrection!

No huge adventures on the way with BumbleBUTT except...
      1. we should have gotten driven off the road by at least 2 taxi brousses driving crazely down and around curves.....thankfully there was room for me to pull to the side of the road....there were many hrs where there was no side of the road to pull over onto....just a steep embankment....Good timing Lord.
      2. hit a HUGE pothole and should have blown out two front where fine and so is least we think so....
Now, for the drive home, that is a different story. We had noticed Wednesday while driving to a fort, that there was water leaking onto the passanger side floor. We had called the MAF mechanic and he thought that somehow the heater got turned on and we should just turn it off no problem.

Well, this morning as I was pulling out to Manda Beach Hotel I noticed that the temperature guage was almost in the red. That's not good. We drove for about 15 minutes and all of a sudden the red light comes on saying the car is overheating. Thankfully, when we were in Tamatave we had met a Korean couple who had a business dealing with heavy industrial equipment. We had JeongAe call them to see if they knew of a place in Tamatave where there was a trusted mechanic who could look at BumbleBUTT. We knew we would never make it to Andasibe as we would have to drive a winding road that went uphill. We would definatley set the car on fire.

He told us to drive to his business and they would fix it for us! So it took us about 2 hours to get to Tamatave (about ½ hr longer than normal) as I had to pull over lots of times and turn the car off to let it cool down, but....BumbleBUTT pulled it off!

We waited in a lovely business building. The boys watched some movies on the computer. The Korean's were so taken with the boys that they kept bringing out candy and soda for them! Randy, JeongAe, and I sat in comfortable chairs reading our books and drinking REALLY good Korean coffee. Ok, Randy didn't drink the coffee, just JeongAe and I.

Two hours later, having been told we needed to pay nothing, the mechanics had replaced a hose in BumbleBUTT and we were headed off towards Andasibe where we were going to spend the night. Now our original plan was to be there before dark as I HATE driving in Madagascar in the dark! But, having been delayed 2 hrs that wasn't going to happen. Ok, go with the flow Meg, don't get your panties in a knot.

Off we headed towards Andasibe. Things were going well minus the normal, getting run off the road by big 18 wheelers and taxibes taking wide turns. Still don't know how I didn't pee my pants a few times.....there were some REALLY close calls. We were 7 Km away from our destination when....WAAAAMMMMPPP. I hit a hit a Malagasy pothole going 30km/hr. that the sound of a flat tire? Why yes it is. I pulled over and rested my head on the stearing wheel. What else could I do? Randy got out to look at the damage while the boys and I thanked God for giving us safety. Randy flagged down the 1st thing with lights that came past us. It was a big rig. It didn't stop. But the second one did. We didn't even know if we had a spare tire. Thankfully we did. These guys on big rigs know how to change tires, let me tell you! They had that tire changed and us back on the road in 30 minutes! Randy leaned over to me and said, “I could have changed the tire but it would have taken me about 2 hrs.”

So we made it to Andasibe safely about 3 ½ hrs. later than intended but we were all in one piece...well.....everyone except BumbleBUTT. After a good nights sleep we left Andasibe and traveled to Moramonga (on the way to Tana) and stopped to buy another spare tire. While Randy was taking care of that the boys and I went for a walk to find some yummy snacks. Instead of walking back from our adventure we rented a pousse-pousse. (think rickshaw with a bike/see picture to the left) Check that experience off my list.

The trip home from Andasibe was uneventful and we were back home Friday by 3:30pm. Thank you Lord for a safe …. yet interesting....trip.

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