Friday, July 27, 2007

Leaping Lemurs….I made it to Madagascar!

After much preparation, and fond farewells to friends and family, I was ready to go. My good friend, Barb Perry, took me to the airport, and helped me get my luggage checked in. I spent the night at a hotel near the Charles de Gaulle airport, and walked into the village to get some fresh air – taking of course, the prerequisite picture of a church.

The next morning, I started my 11 hour flight to Tana (short for Antananarivo, the capital of Madagascar).

Fortunately Roger had given me instructions of making my way through customs and I was relieved I didn’t get thrown in jail because of the sunflower seeds and peanut butter brought in for him! The driver Roger had arranged was waiting for me with a sign that said, "Heffer/Roger", so I gathered that was for me! It was almost midnight and what first blew me away was that for a city of many millions of people, I could still clearly see the stars. It was the first of many amazing sights.

Along the road to the hotel, we passed a caravan of zebu driven covered wagons with men walking beside them holding lanterns – a scene right out of Bonanza and an incredible sight. On my first morning, I woke up early and heard singing....I looked out the window and several young men were just walking down the street, and had broken into an African song. Their harmony was beautiful.

The driver, Tantely, and his wife, Miora, picked me up at 8:30 and toured me around Tana. Streets have no names, and it is like driving through a maze of cobblestone and dirt roads playing chicken with Citroens, zebus and daring pedestrians.

Tana is very mountainous and so I had a chance to see the city’s huge expanse from different viewpoints. They took me to their zoo and I saw the dreaded Fossa – made famous in the animated movie, Madagascar. Then incredibly, as we passed the cages of various lemurs, the zoo feeder let us come in with him and I saw close up these fascinating creatures as they ate honey from his fingertips. He shared his love of these animals with my new found friends, and Miora interpreted - she trying her English, while I tried my French (words are coming back to me but my grammar is probably pretty dreadful).

I have been touched by how helpful and friendly the Malagasy have been to me and how the vast majority of people I see are working in some form or another.

Roger came to Tana as there was a last minute issue of me traveling on the company plane. After finding out that rental vehicles are not allowed in the region where the drilling is occurring, we decided I would stay in Mauritius and hopefully get approval for me to travel later on.
Eleanor Roosevelt once said everyone should do something that scares them once a day. Well, although I haven’t been outright scared – I’m sure pushing my comfort levels these days. But each time I can communicate with someone, or experience something incredibly new – I think, “C’est magnifique”!

1 comment:

Brad and Anette said...

Wow! The foosa looks craaazy!

Love Brad