When I got back into the states from Madagascar I had the privilege of hearing the same question over and over in different variations. How was it? Did you have fun? Did you like it? OF course my friends and family are going to ask these questions. And I tried to prepare for it. Even though I really thought about it on the long plane ride back, I still found myself underperforming. The answer was usually yes, or it was a blast. But those are only words, the truth is it is impossible to compress my feeling towards my time in Madagascar down into a conversation. There are events, both good and bad, that don’t fit into a sentence. And this trip was one of those events in my life. It was fun, does not even begin to describe the peace I found walking with the crabs as I traversed the Mangroves at dawn. The light at dawn was soft, and the sounds of birds and lizards were an engaging combination of friendly and exotic. I wish I could arrange words into a sentence to describe that magical time but I can’t. Words that come to mind are peaceful, exciting, and gentle. Walking in the mangrove in the morning was art.
How can I describe the wonder of the journey to Madagascar itself? I live in the Pacific Northwest. To get further from Madagascar, in a very literal geographic sense, I would have to try. It is roughly on the exact opposite of the planet. And yet, once you get past the airport security you are in roughly one building. A series of cavernous airport halls and lobbies. The singular room of the airplane. The brief interludes were you might walk outside to a puddle jumper were not enough to rid me of the sense that I was in a single building that spanned the entire world. Like I was some tiny microbe riding the wave of a vast artery that swept me from Portland to some distant part of the same organism.
And as always words almost fail me when I try and describe what ended up being my favorite part of the trip, which was scuba diving. Diving is my favorite thing in general, weird organisms fascinate me. Which is why I chose ecology. And diving engages me on all levels. It always feels like I am visiting an alien world, and Madagascar did not disappoint. The multitudes of colorful fish felt like flowers in a garden to me. If the flowers of a garden swirled and coalesced around you.
I also had the opportunity to visit the east coast. I went to a lemur Park for a night. The lemurs are wildness in motion when they jump across the branches. And the lushness of the dark greens that characterized the rainforest were a pleasant contrast to the light greens of the dry forest. Both ecosystems have their own kind of triumph woven into the trees and plants that build them.
It is all of this and more that I am thinking of when I say, “Yeah I had a great time in Madagascar.”
I hope that I will have another opportunity to travel and do and discover more than I can ever say.