Wild Lemurs

My morning starts just after dawn before the bright Madagascar sun begins to bake the forests and radiate heat off the calm ocean water. I sleepily pull on my hiking boots and start hiking through the cool misty forests, climbing rock boulders, jumping over mud puddles, pulling myself up with vines, heading to the top of the lush volcanic island to watch wild lemurs. Continue reading “Wild Lemurs”

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Madagascar

I wake up in the urban chaos of Johannesburg, and fall asleep in a secluded Madagascar island – no electricity, no light, no walls or even doors. The adjustment is quite hard for me. The first thing I notice about Madagascar is the heat- a wet heat that covers you in seconds, as if someone sprayed you with mist. I feel the humidity immediately and start peeling off layers before I even get from the plane into to the airport. I wait in about 5 lines, get stamps, signatures, my bag searched, then hop in a taxi which takes me to a small boat that takes me to my island home. I go rock climbing with my suitcase (backpack only next time) and settle into an island bungalow. Continue reading “Madagascar”

Joburg

Gritty, dirty, urban- a city that has its past written all over its streets. I walk down streets that resemble Harlem in New York, just broken down and without the diverse faces from around the world that make the urban hub so unique. I step over cracks, around trash, curiously looking at the empty buildings, the familiar graffiti art that adds character to the run down brick. I notice a guy following me, telling me about his penthouse down the street. He has been to New York once- Brooklyn, but can’t tell me where. I quickly duck into the only restaurant I’ve seen to lose my pursuer. Continue reading “Joburg”

The Black Pearl

21 complete strangers get in a bus on a windy morning in Cape Town- a bunch of Europeans, two Brazilians, two South Koreans, and an American (me). They are destined to spend the next 20 something days together camping and traveling. Our charismatic captain (Tenk) has possibly watched Pirates of The Caribbean one too many times, and quickly names our safari truck The Black Pearl.¬† Continue reading “The Black Pearl”

Muzungu at Maramba Market

“Muzungu!” I know that word. I want to look up- to look at the people calling to me, the stalls with clothes, vegetables, fruit, spices, but I look down at my feet, at the dirt ground. I think I might fall on the small, uneven rocky path I’m sharing with hundreds of other confident locals (who don’t need to look down when they are walking). I’m like a ghost walking through the village market. People stare at me, talk to me, follow me, a man stops so close to me that I have to stop abruptly, almost running into him. Continue reading “Muzungu at Maramba Market”

Hats Off, Zimbabwe

My midwestern friendliness betrays me sometimes. I’m sitting at dinner in Zim with my nomad family, watching a group of guys wearing beads & animal print cloths dance, when I’m pretty sure one of them (the falsetto) points directly at me. Uhh, I naturally smile in response (was he pointing at me?) but I do not get a smile in return- instead he walks over and crowns me with a sprinkbok headdress. What just happened? I’m not quite sure what to do, so I sit there awkwardly for what feels like forever (maybe 5 minutes), until someone tells me I’m supposed to get up and dance with him. Continue reading “Hats Off, Zimbabwe”

Victoria Falls

After about an hour wait at the border, we enter Zimbabwe and head to the final destination of out trip- Victoria Falls. But first, a few things about Zimbabwe: it’s expensive- like New York City expensive. Zimbabwe money is completely worthless, so they are using US money, and it’s impossible to get. There is only one ATM in town with money and you can only withdraw $50 at a time, with a $5 charge (and yes, there is a line). Continue reading “Victoria Falls”