Has anyone seen my mind? What a day. To try and find the words to explain. Left Tana and drove the long and winding highway towards the village of Anevoka (you probably won’t find it on a map…but let me know if you do). Left the black smoke, the filthy concrete, the mass population of the city and gradually found my breath again. Along the way drove by fields, burning forests, burning bushes, burning fields. Bricks of clay being stamped out of the the red earth. (Ever play Settlers of Catan? I will never look at those clay cards the same way). Smoking fields and bushes. Rain and rice terraces. Kids walking along the road to school. No shoes on any of them. Its cold and its raining and it the austral winter. We are over 1000m above sea level. I’m wearing three layers. Hiking boots and wool socks. And all those little kids are barefoot.
Stopped along the way to buy fruit (see pics!) and to see a small private wildlife reserve with a fantastical collection of chameleons (see pics!) and even the Tomato Frog!!!
When we arrived in Anevoka (pronounced Ah-neh-vook) I met some of the 256 students at the school…and their THREE teachers. Most of the kids did not stop staring at me the entire time, puzzled, slightly frightened looks on their faces. In Anevoka I also met my team. 11 porters, a cook, a guard and a guide. Most of them don’t have shoes either. They don’t speak any English. Only my guide speaks a very small amount of French. Wow. Charades anyone? The only thing that is clear at this point is that I am the boss. And they are with me for whatever….whatEVER….I want or need. They don’t look me in the eye, but they trip over themselves so that I don’t carry a thing. This feels weird. The jungle is screaming. All the sounds are new, strange, wild. I’ve slept in this tent in many countries (I got it as a highschool graduation present!). But Madagascar, they say, is “the land at the end of the earth”. I hope I don’t roll off in my sleep.