Toniteís my birthday. Iím
turning 45 in no manís land, Africa. Cheuk and David get me a
piece of French pastry for 50,000 Madagascar francs. I keep the
receipt for souvenir.
Itís been a long day. Cheuk hits the sack leaving us two lounge
lizards to fend for ourselves. David attracts the local meat
like flies to Soupe chinoise. Three brown sugars bark up our
tree for drinks and more. Fat Hana sits herself and beer in my
lap. Her ďHalle BerryĒ lookalike friend is licking her lips
like a centre fold gal while pulling her G-string so high it
must be scraping her stomach wall. Her other friend Black
Vanilla so obviously lactating with her 2-inch nipples is
literally blinding young Davidís virgin eyes.
My limited high
school French is barely good enough to get their bargain
basement offer of $20 Canadian for a foursome. David wanted to run
upstairs to wake Cheuk up to translate. I just wanna get this
mama off my lap so I can get to bed by myself. There are some
souvenirs that you just donít want to bring home. I should have
clued into the warning signs when we were given toilet kits
supplied with US Aid condoms in our rooms.
After being awaken by the downpour this morning, I thought I was
back in Israel again. It takes the cameras an hour to de-fog in
this humidity after sitting in air con all night. This has
become a daily ritual. The streets are flooded from the rain due
to bad drainage. Even though the rain has stopped, itís slow
going with the pousse pousse that gets stuck in potholes hidden
by the deep puddles.
We finally make it to Epicerie Liu on Boulevard Joffre. Mr.
Liuís little general store sells everyday sundries and supplies
but mostly booze and cigarettes. Itís also a hangout where many
of the unemployed riff raffs gather to get tanked. I think he
even makes and sells his own moonshine. I film a customer that
came in with empties and got them filled. We take Mr. Liu to a
nearby park for an interview.
Mr. Liu had a lot to say about Madagascar, past and present. I
was a bit confused by his regrets of being trapped in this
poverty stricken Third World but yet he has and was able to send
his children to universities overseas in cosmopolitan French
cultural centres of Montreal and Paris where they have settled.
So why is he still here?
Weíre doing lunch today at Hotel Le Joffre for a change of pace.
Itís apparently some kind of national holiday. Iíve never seen
the streets booming since Iíve been here, but it feels like a
ghost town today and we are sitting on this hotel veranda
watching the world standing stillÖ frozen in time. This old
sleepy colonial hotel is like a set from ďYear Of Living
DangerouslyĒ, except all the foreign correspondents have
desertedÖ leaving just us in this empty time warped twilight
zone with the waiters left to cater only us.