Noi6 means "the 6 of us" in Romanian.

We are five, you are the sixth one.

We thank you for joining us in our trip around the world...

Thursday, July 12, 2012


We've been on the road for 267 days and today was the first time that I gave something to a begging child. I bought fresh bread and at the exit of the boulangerie, an almost naked 5 year old stretched his dirty hand. He got some fresh bread. How strange.
Beautiful Antsirabe...
There are many ethical question that a traveler faces, but we've avoided most of them. It starts obviously with choosing destinations, when someone has to decide if to visit or not countries like Myanmar, where a bad government is in control censuring free movement and expression, limiting the contact with the local people. I know that Myanmar got better lately, but that is still a good example. Other ethical question refer to the poverty encountered on the road and how to deal with it. Whenever a crowd of children approaches a westerner they beg for "bonbon" or crayons and the one that gives in would condition all those children to keep begging and pestering the tourists. The problem is not the discomfort to a future tourist as much as the long term effects of seeing visitors as walking givers. There are some things that tourists do to feel better, like donating to NGOs. Personally I don't think that helps in any way, it certainly doesn't address the root of the problem. The solutions are so simple and still impossible to achieve. There is really no way to feel any good about the poverty that we encounter at every step. I don't feel guilty, I don't feel ashamed, but it hurts, it really hurts and the only thing I can do is to keep walking.

In Antsirabe we were faced with another ethical dilemma. Should we try a pousse-pousse? The guidebook explains that many of the pullers rent their carts on a daily basis and using them really helps them make a living. We discussed and we all agreed that there is no way in the world that we could get in one of those carts. It might not be degrading to the human pulling a cart like an ox, but it would certainly be to me, sitting in the back and "enjoying" the ride. Jean-Luc is a really old guy whose station is the front of our hotel. He is there every time I get out, inviting me to jump in his pousse-pousse. "Let me show you the city!" I sit next to him and we talk for a couple of minutes. He is dressed in a dirty alaindelon and wears a classy shabby hat. He is barefoot and I cannot stop noticing his well trimmed toe nails. He makes a living by pulling people in his cart, running up and down the hills, he probably takes the best care of his feet. There is no touristic objective for us in Antsirabe. Some Norwegians missionaries built some thermal baths in the 19th century, there is a big beer factory and a big market. Jean-Luc thinks that he needs to show me these and he seems to understand my problem. "We can just walk on the street, I leave my pousse-pousse here." Thank you so much, I still don't need a guide, but nice meeting you. We laugh and shake hands again.

Running up the hill

Pousse pousse

A proud father asked for a picture

Next morning, in front of the hotel, three little children jump on me asking for bread and pointing me to the boulangerie.
Playing kids in the middle of the road

1 comment:

  1. Such honest commentary on the poverty you encounter. Very moving. Thank you. And then there was that one particular child....


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