Well, Madagascar you've been a roller coaster ride that's for sure. I've felt in awe of the beauty of the landscape then frustrated at the treatment of it in the next breath, with local villages burning miles of land because they always have, even though it ruins the soil!
I've seen 6 out of the 56 types of Lemur most of which in their natural environment, in beautiful national parks filled with geckos, chameleons, tiny kinda cool frogs, lizards and snakes ugh so many snakes. This I found pretty stressful I have to say but I tried to give off that vibe of wow what a beautiful animal you are so they had no clue I was bricking it!! Although I have to say I draw the line at sharing the bathroom with one. After you love!
I have to say it was a special moment planting trees in Andisebe National Park, their Programme is really taking off and you can see the difference. #BEGIN #projectorigin is seriously important to help our world. Bit by bit.
I've traveled over land around 2000km via bottom acing roads that to be honest break up the monotony of the drive, it makes city driving a potential death trap however and I basically switched off my grown up danger button and enjoyed the ride! Careering through streets, head on towards, women, children, Tuk Tuks, zeeboo (cattle) arctic trucks, all traveling at speeds that seem crazy for the amount of road maneuvers that are necessary! Throw in the dogs, goats and chickens and you may be getting the picture.
I've struggled with communication, for those who know me talking is a high priority and not been able to make friends or connect with people via stories and experience has been a challenge. It has however improved my listening and mime skills. All the malasgasy people I met however were kind and young at heart.
I've also decided once and for all I need to learn a language!
Saying all of this I have met some great characters. Gabriel (not the singer!) stands out, a ranger at National Park and one of the most passionate people I've ever met. He wants to run for mayor of his village, to educate and change the ways of his people, to show them how important their environment is and how looking after it can make their life's better by providing more food options by planting the right trees and more revenue by not destroying them. Slowly he plans to build his campaign to then run for president. I believe he will do it, what a guy.
Money makes the world go round
Money lets talk money, it's hard in Madagascar. Banks are literally hundreds of miles apart, I think around 2% of places take card and then even if they say they do the service won't work because of the coverage. You have a daily limit to withdraw mix that with the county been one of the most expensive places in Africa and you or actually I have a problem. Traveling alone with a lack of cash is hard. I tried to plan but sometimes this didn't work out because fees change and so do locals minds. You have to pay for everything, I mean everything! This was not enjoyable but I managed. Just.
Land to sea
It's an island right so the exploration of its sea and coast I felt essential also I was tired and really needed a break. A change Is as good as a rest that's what they say.
To Nosy Be.
In driving rain, drenched to the skin, bag everything soaked I boarded a tiny boat at Ankify harbor (a rock!) with a 12 year old driving, rough seas a boat packed with people and one life jacket! I'm pretty sure I'd be grand I'm a strong swimmer but still not ideal.
After making it alive I checked in to Sambarta a beautiful beach front heaven, the sun came out I ordered my first drink in over a week and the world realigned! Jan is the owner with his wife, a Belgium who speaks English and it was golden to be understood. So nice to find a new friends on an island paradise. Playing football on the beach at sunset with the Italian air crew and some talented locals, putting the world to rights with Jan, the French chaps Carl and Oliver and the lovely Claudia and Antonio. Although note to self Madagasy rum is dangerous and results in a serious hangover. #worthit
I actually can not reccomend Sambarta Bed and Breakfast highly enough. Thank you Jan and Elizabeth :-)
The coastline is stunning, as are the islands and the snorkeling well it rocks. Tanikeli is a beautiful national park Island not far from Nost Be, with see through blue water, fruit bats, too many jelly fish but a huge turtle. The boat ride once the sea had picked up in the afternoon began as hairy but ended up as one of the funniest things I have ever seen, people wearing their snorkel masks they were so wet.
The insects that come with that however do not. 6 days now and I'm starting to think the huge red swollen reaction I've had May never disappear.#souvenir
For those who know me the importance of food in my life will come as no suprise, so whilst in Madagascar I was excited to try everything. Just one problem, there really is only rice, rice and zeebo (beef), rice and green veg, rice with rice and more rice. The country is incredibly poor and also still very traditional which is great but sadly not for the palet. :-(
Until I reached Nosy Be and I started to smile once more, raw fish salad, giant frogs legs, freshly caught lobster delivered to the door, Italian meats and cheese, crepes. Amazing.
I had a range of worrying and upsetting news whilst in Madagascar, Team Vestas Wind grounded their boat in a remote reef , Cargados Carajos Shoals, they spent the night clinging on whilst waves smashed the boat which grounded at an extreme angle. Before sunrise with the knowledge that Team Alvimedica (superstars, one team one dream) were at hand to help the team abandoned ship as it had begun to take on water.
They are as I type all safe and heading back to civilisation, although the whole situation sent shivers down my spine. I think the world of the team and since the started they have been positive, seriously fun, amazingly talented group of guys that I am so proud to work with and call my friends. What happened has shaken the race and everyone in it but all can I say is that the relief that everyone is safe and well is really all that matters. Life at the extreme my friends.
To close, I had a great but challenging time in Madagascar. I loved the adventure and all I can say is if you haven't been give it a go. Life is short and the world is huge, we are lucky enough to have the ability to travel and open our eyes, change our perspective with new cultures and experiences. #SayYesMore #BEGIN
Albert Einstein said, "You cannot solve a problem with the same mind that created it."