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August 6, 2003

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From Ambositra we keep following Madagascar's backbone road north to Antsirabe, a place that's known as 'pousse-pousse' town, which literally means "push-push" town. A pousse-pousse is a hand pulled rickshaw, and the drivers here are the most prolific and aggressive in Madagascar. They pester pedestrians so much that it's not a bad policy to hire one just to keep the others away.
Never trust a pousse-pousse driver. Many of these drivers congregated and told us about a "special ceremony" that would take place in a village outside of town. For $10, one driver offered to pull us in his rickshaw over seven kilometers of broken road to the ceremony. Seemed like a bargain, so we agreed. He took a circuitous route out of town, backtracking several times, and then he pulled us to a nondescript intersection. By now, of course we knew we'd been had, but we wanted to see this scam through to the end. How creative would this guy be? He kept giving us his "guarantee" and "sincerity" that a ceremony existed out here somewhere. In the end even the scam lacked imagination. He stopped us by the roadside and said the ceremony would come by anytime. When it didn't, we left him a few bucks and hitched a ride back to town.