Coming down off the mountains was something else. We slept in Ambositra got up early and took off. The road is classic mountain road, twisty, going up and down. The countryside gradually changed – Antananarivo and Antsirabe are broad valleys between relatively low mountains. As we went south the mountains got steeper and valleys narrow. They were still filled with rice fields, but the fields tended to climb up the hills wherever a spring was coming out of the mountain.

Finally, the hills disappeared and we were on a broad plateau. Here the grass went for miles, and no houses were to be seen. We did see a foreign style house, broken by the road. Apparently one of the former presidents had it built for astronomers to watch and eclipse 10/20 years ago. But it is in the middle of nowhere so nobody uses it, and it just rots. Our Texan relatives would love to ranch this country (at least while there is rain!).

Things got drier, I started seeing raketa (prickly pear) alongside the road. As it got dark, we got into Toliara. We found out hotel, went out to eat – I got sick. Took me back to the hotel and I spent the next day in bed.

Friday, about noon, I could feel the fever break (dripping with sweat – more than the heat would account for). Dr Elson and Hanitra had bought me 2 yogurts, and that seemed to calm my stomach. By Saturday I dared to risk the trip, although I ate no breakfast and just sipped water all day.

About 2 o'clock we stopped at the synod president's hours (remember a synod is a more independent district). He fed us chicken soup and vary (rice) I ate a couple of spoons and drank water. There is a seminary here that serves the entire south, so all the fields the Americans were missionaries to. As with the rest there is a desperate need for subsidy. Independence is not all its made up to be! There may be an opportunity for someone to teach at this seminary in the future. The president is very interested in such help.

We made it to Ejeda before dark. The desert is blooming, but the leaves and stickers make it clear that this is normally a very dry country. I am staying at the guest house tonite and tomorrow I move into a room at Dr Elson's house. I went to bed right after we arrived and slept for a couple of hours.