As we sit at the Antananarivo airport to catch our plane to Nairobi I am filled with mixed emotions as I reflect on our stay here. If I am perfectly honest with myself, I am ready…in fact relieved, to be leaving. I am also not sure that I ever want to come back.
Madagascar is a place of amazing and breathtaking natural beauty, but it has one of the worst infrastructures to allow outsiders to enjoy it.
I had no idea what we were getting ourselves into when we decided to come here. There are no short cuts to travel from point A to point B within the country. We have spent countless hours traversing deep pitted dirt roads that could swallow a car whole if the wheel was turned a few inches the wrong way. Then we would arrive at a ‘boat’ which was basically a long dinghy with a motor on back to spend what our guide told us would be a couple of hours but actually turned into about 5. Then we would get in the car again to drive a few more hours. Before the trip I time and time again expressed to our guide that we did not want any journey to last more than 3 hours. Through out our trip he showed that he either had no number sense or was the worst time estimator in the world.
Had I known what we were in for I would never had signed up for it. Mainly because I would have gotten an ulcer imagining dragging Avinash on these endless journeys.
Amazingly, he showed the most resilience of us all. He rolled with it and although there were times that he complained about the time and wanted to know how much longer, I complained far more than him.
It is actually making me reassess some of the adventures we were skipping on this trip and saving for when he got older. Maybe we will take the Amazon jungle boat or Borneo rain forest adventure now.
Madagascar is so beautiful and seems to have a rich culture, but it’s tourist industry is so fledgling that the experiences lacked the depth they could have. I account a lot of this to our guide who was first of all not good but also did not speak English well enough to answer some of questions that would have brought more understanding of our experiences. I suspect that even the adventurer that wants to find an unspoiled place to visit would not be satisfied here either. You still have to get through the country and people are not happy. In fact, too many wore scowls on their face that did not waver no matter how big our grins or enthusiastic our waves.
If nothing else, I am grateful that we were challenged as a family and discovered that we should not underestimate our capabilities of taking on risks.
We are boarding a plane to Nairobi, which at the moment has a terrorist hostage situation happening in the city. We plan to arrive at the airport, drive straight to the hotel and not step foot outside until our flight out tomorrow night. I am nervous and a reminded again of the risks we are taking by traveling the world. Living in Honolulu, Hawaii it’s easy to watch the rest of the world’s instabilities on a screen and feel the safety of our moat, the Pacific Ocean. I empathize with the people, families and children that are unable to take security and safety for granted in their home countries.
Bye Madagascar and we’ll see if our paths ever cross again.