The Malagasy Highway Code for Motorbikers

         

  • When you see a lorry coming your way, take a big breath and hold it. It's going to stink.

       

  • A full helmet is great for safety if you fall and hit your head, but it does mean you can't scratch your ears.

            

  • Even after 1500 kilometres of practice, you still can't scratch your ears. Stop trying, you're in the middle of the road.

        

  • You'll get wet. Very wet. But what they don't tell you is that you'll keep raindrops on your helmet visor for ages after the rain has stopped.

         

  • You'll also get very cold, which means that you can completely forget your direction indicators. With frozen hands, your left thumb doesn't work any more. Neither does the right, for that matter.

        

  • The gearstick is too hard and hurts your foot, so you'll end up staying in third gear all the time.

        

  • Just because a policeman has smiled at you and indicated for you to carry on, doesn't mean he's not going to cross the road just in front of you. See it as a test, if you will.

        

  • Just because you're coming the other way, doesn't mean a car isn't going to overtake another. It can also be a van or a lorry.

        

  • It is perfectly possible to have an emergency and slam on the brakes... in the middle of a traffic jam.

        

  • Your legs will be fine because the machine gives off quite a bit of heat. The rest, however, is going to slowly freeze from the extremities up.

        

  • The helmet will flatten your hair, the gloves will stain your fingers, the dust and fumes will dirty the rest. You are not going to arrive at your destination in a presentable state, you may as well stop trying. And you are not Megan Fox, who can elegantly lift off her helmet and shake out a perfect cascade of beautifully-brushed long hair.

               

  • If you smile and say hello to people, they'll do the same for you and it's a very nice feeling. They'll also be much more inclined to come and help you up when you fall over twenty metres further on. (Of course you fall over. You weren't concentrating on the road. You were smiling and saying hello.)

 

  • Honk your horn before overtaking. Either he hasn't seen you, or he has but he couldn't care less.

        

  • Don't dip the bike too much in blind bends. The lorry coming the other way is taking up three quarters of the road and has absolutely no intention of moving for something as insignificant as a motorbike.

 

  • The pretty white lines in the middle of the road are purely for decorative purposes.

        

  • The actual notion of keeping to one side of the road is only valid if someone is watching. As long as nobody's there, the road is yours and you can drive however you like. Depending on what is coming the other way, you may decide whether or not to get back over to your side of the road.

        

  • Yes, the rice paddies are pretty. But if you look at the pretty rice paddies for too long, you're going to end up in the pretty rice paddies.

 

  • In the same vein, if you stare with horrified eyes at the gaping and gravelly hole just in front of you, you're going to go right down into it.

 

  • You'll also have to avoid the orange skins which you'll find wherever the taxi-brousses have passed.

 

  • When it's raining, it gets dangerous, but only for you. Everyone else is absolutely fine. Your motorbike will refuse to start up, you'll slip and slide in the dust-turned-mud, but you'll still get honked at. Oh, and you'll be blind, too.

 

  • Rickshaws and trolleys don't have indicators and don't warn others of what they're about to do. This gets even worse if there are zebus involved. A zebu will never move for you.

        

  • The main idea is to keep the bike upright and to stay on the bike.

        

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