Malagasy Market

Tsis, misoatra. No, thank you. I don’t want to buy, just look. To feel another culture, to wonder around the market as if I belonged there, as if I lived there and needed something. Hands reach out to me as I navigate the market aisles in an old cement warehouse, offering me spices, perfume, fruits. Tsis misoatra. I smell the perfume in homemade plastic bottles, the spices – vanilla, fresh from Madagascar. A room full of bright colors, life, smells of spices, sweat, fish, incense captivates me. A women sits on the floor staring into her daydream, a pile of greenish oranges splayed out next to her on a cloth. What are her dreams?  Continue reading “Malagasy Market”

Tides

Something is wrong. I wake up in the night with sharp, shooting pains in my stomach and spend the next 2 days on a mattress surrounded by onlookers to my public illness. I don’t care – I’m deliriously sick. I can’t keep anything down, even water makes me violently ill. God, Universe, Something (Italian doctor in Nosy Be) – please make me well again. A remote island isn’t an ideal place to be ill, and the only way to get treated is a nauseous, choppy boat ride to the next biggest island – Nosy Be. Take off your shoes, lay on the cool tile floor in what appears to be a hospital, and enter when you are called in for a blood test. My sickness has a name: Typhoid. Continue reading “Tides”

Taxi Brousse

“Boat!” is called out just after dawn as I head down to the beach to catch the daily boat en route to Nosy Be. After a pleasant 40 minute ride, we arrive in the port and wade through oily water to get some breakfast before our long journey to the amazing tsingy rocks in Ankarana, on the mainland of Madagascar. Continue reading “Taxi Brousse”

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”

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”