Into Antananarivo, Madagascar, at 3am. All of the instructions for entry on arrival, as outlined by the embassy, are wrong. The forms to have completed before arriving? Not accepted. The extra passport photos for said paperwork? Not needed. The fee for a tourist visa? Higher.
Getting in at this hour also meant that the money exchanges were closed and the SIM card stores were closed; however the chaos of it all was blunted and streamlined by the small numbers of other passengers.
The rest of the airport scene was typical for a poor developing country: people trying to “assist” in every way they can in order to get a tip, even down to the homeless drunk guys that wanted money just for standing by as another lifts a bag into the taxi. Fortunately my AirBnB host was able to have a driver to meet me and drive me into town. (She was also able to give the lowdown on the neighborhood with a list of good recommendations.)
By then it was about 4am and I was surprised to see, not just people awake and out on the streets, starting work and threshing some kind of grain by hand, but kids running all over the place. As in actually running and jogging up and down the roads; occasionally a group would be doing squats. For fitness? Training for soccer? Doing it now while it was cooler out before school? I figured that I’d do most of my riding early before the thunderstorms in the evening; if the locals are doing this they might be on to something 🙂
After a nap I was able to take care of the money exchange and getting a SIM card; then I found a hip café with coffee, and a great view, at the Museum of Photography. The videos at the museum were very interesting, and definitely worth it if you’re looking for cultural stuff.
Life is good, and I feel like I’m climbing out of those earlier rings of purgatory.