The routes I planned before coming over were specifically all pavement or asphalt and I’d had no intentions of going on the dirt backroads. Hence the decision to go with my skinny Continentals.
However, the river trip was a happy surprise that put me into the thick of the country side where often not even an ox cart could pass. The rains had been stopping early in the night and by most mornings the roads were dry enough to easily bike, but late heavy rains last night left the road a muddy mess that was impassable with my skinny tires. Some guys I met at the bungalows were going to let me hire them out and take their Land Cruiser but a funeral procession that showed up took priority. I saw them broken down on the road several hours later. So, an extremely rough and bouncy taxi-brousse ride in an old military truck, with a transfer at Tsimfana, for only 25,000 Ariary was what it took to get to the beaches some 80 miles away (that’s about $7). Worth it for a quick jungle tour, even if the boss man demanded more money from everyone before loading up. Makes sense I guess since it wasn’t a full load. The smaller pickup truck from Tsimfana was a tight fit, since we were all smooshed into the back and there were 20 people plus babies (and about 10 chickens); but at least I was in a prime spot that had a strong breeze and good view as we passed through the forest and under the baobabs. We had to stop to add water to the radiator every few miles and we ran out of gas at one point; I don’t know where the hell the driver ran off to that he was able to get more gas in the middle of the forest.
And back into civilization! where I can spend several days on the beach with my face in my phone surfing the interwebs 😝