A rust colored dirt path leads me to the rock formations I’ve been so determined to see- Tsingy. Tsingy means to walk on tiptoes and it’s been said that Malagasy people crossed these jagged pointed rocks on their tiptoes (no idea if that’s true). I’ve spent a few sleepless nights googling these limestone pillars that point up to the sky and now I’m just a few kilometers from them.
Bright green lizards – so bright they couldn’t possibly be real – cling to the trees and watch us walk by, eyes moving to the back of their head as we pass. Another lizard that looks like a dinosaur melts into the tree, so flat it has to be part of the tree bark. The forest is like a camouflaged puzzle, can you spot the life in it? Spiderwebs shine in the forest, perfect lines woven into the leaves and trees. Lemurs jump overhead in the trees and watch us watching them. We stare at each other with curiosity, us with cameras, them hovering over us, at a safe distance from the strangers in their habitat.
We pass through a dry riverbed just a few weeks after the rainy season ended. A fat millipede over a foot long moves gracefully near me, I touch its hard back as it crawls over my hand with its endless legs, making a zig zag as millions of legs move the long body. A rock canyon emerges at the end of the riverbed, I cautiously peer over the edge into the deep rocky pit below. I notice the rock layers, as if rock plates were manually stacked on top of each other and imagine this pool full of water in the rainy season.
I see them through the trees- the tsingy protrude from the forest, abruptly replacing the trees. Jagged rocks shoot up in the distance as far as the eye can see- an ocean of jagged limestone rocks. I feel the magical tingle of wonder flow through me as I observe the incredible sight-how did this come to be? I’m in awe of nature and these 100 million year old limestone formations I’ve only seen pictures of on a screen. I jump from jagged peak to jagged peak, nervously walking across wooden bridges fastened to the rocks- don’t think- just walk. It’s impossible to capture the vast expanse of protruding rock and all the angles of the formations in a photo.
Impenetrable darkness covers me like a sticky damp blanket inside the cave. I follow the faint light ahead and listen to the high-pitched squeak and whoosh of the bats flying overhead. A bat sweeps in front my face and I flinch as the fruit bats are illuminated by my meager light at the roof of the cave. A hairy figure reveals itself below me- I freeze as I process the massive tarantula at my feet. I climb deeper into the darkness, shining my light on crystalized stalactites and stalagmites, creeping towards the other like gigantic melting wax candles. I emerge out of the cave into the faint light of dusk in the forest and acknowledge my deep appreciation for the wonders nature.