Madagascar: The City

How can I describe Toliara?
Toliara defies all expectations.

Imagine Madagascar, the most majestic country I have ever seen.
Imagine Toliara, Madagascar’s dusty, grimy foot.
Imagine the “southern hub of Madagascar.”
Imagine a port city with no port.
Imagine that it’s eighty degrees outside.
Imagine that it’s eighty degrees outside…in the middle of winter.
Imagine arid plains dotted with cacti, razor bushes, spiny-tentacled trees, and other vegetation that want to hurt you.
Imagine two hundred thousand people.
Imagine streets crowded, not with cars, but with rickshaws, bicycles, chickens, street vendors, and carts pulled by Malagasy cattle.
Imagine the cattle have a large hump on their necks, and are called zibu.
Imagine a lot of sand and some palm trees.
Imagine cell phones, but no plumbing.
Imagine sad cement buildings.
Imagine market streets selling pineapple, bananas, vanilla, and Disney princess backpacks.
Imagine walking behind the shops into the slums where, yes, I do believe there are sixteen people living in that shack.
Imagine…wait, is that a gelateria? Yup.
Imagine there is no need to throw away your trash; give it to the children, and they will sell it.
Imagine that I live in one of the nicest apartments around.
Imagine the smallest apartment you’ve been in.
Imagine cement walls and geckos.
Imagine bathroom lights that tend not to work at night, and water that tends not to run in the morning.
Imagine the grand symphony of roosters, performing daily at 5am.
Imagine the shaman next door.

Imagine Toliara, Madagascar’s dusty, grimy foot.
Imagine us, whose gospel job it is to wash the foot’s feet.

To paraphrase Patsy Mcgregor, only God could bring someone to Toliara.
But oh how fun it can be!

A postcard for your enjoyment

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