Travels to South Africa

So this blog is going to skip over a few days, since most of what I did during the travel from Beza to Toliara to Tana to Joberg was work on a grant application and deal with a family tragedy.  Here are some highlights/thoughts:

Packing for returning from the field, when you’re sleeping in tents, is a HUGE pain.  Because guess what, the biggest thing, the tent, cannot be packed up until last as it’s holding all of your stuff!  And it should go in first so you can pack all the little things around it right??  Yeah well, when we left Beza, I had 4 big bags, and two small bags of stuff that ‘didn’t fit’.  When we left Toliara, after repacking, I had 3.5 bags.

The lemurs thought about coming to Toliara but decided Beza was more their style

Arriving back in the land of the internet, I discovered I had over 300 emails in 3 weeks.  It was terrifying.

Somehow, in Toliara, both Anthony and I ended up with human feces on our pants.  We’re still not sure how this happened, but it was on there a full 20 hours before anyone discovered what the smell in the car was.

Homemade yogart is a dish in a lot of the local Malagasy restaurants.  It’s completely amazing, but as eating anything that’s not cooked is always like taking your life into your hands, prepare yourself to spend the next 5 days in the bathroom, shunned by normal people, if you try it.  Luckily, Cora and I had some, and it was both amazing and not deadly, but Frank and Michelle pretty much kept waiting for us to suddenly stampede to the bathroom.

And finally, our best moment in Tana – For our last nights in Madagascar, we were in Tana.  We met up with Jackie and went for celebratory drinks and dinner at the place where Frank and Michelle first realized they were interested in each other.  It was their 10 years anniversaire of going to Madagascar together, and they had realized over eating at this restaurant, that their attraction was mutual.  Since that night, they had never been able to find the place, but this year, Michelle found it during her wanderings around Tana.  So we went to dinner there, which was completely amazing, and not just because it wasn’t rice/beans/pasta, and we had kily flavored rum.  The Malagasy make Rhum Orange, which is a really really really horrible, cheap rum, that could peel all the skin off your mouth if you drank it straight, but every bar has bottles of it with chocolate beans, or coffee beans, or vanilla, or peppers, or any other kind of ‘flavoring’ you can think of, steeping in it.  The chocolate Rhum Orange is pretty amazing, and so was the kily Rhum Orange.  After dinner, we went back to the Colbert, getting stopped by police checkpoint along the way to check our passports and papers, and then, if you can believe it, we went to a karaoke bar!  Some Malagasy students had taken Frank there a couple years ago, and apparently, we were a fun enough group that he wanted to go back.  So we spent 3-4 hours singing really horrible karaoke, headbanging, and drinking with the 4 other people in the bar on a Tuesday night, including the bartender and waitress.  It was awesome, and I would love to give you directions, but they would be something like, “go two blocks down from Hotel Colbert, and enter a nondescript doorway into a white hallway with no markings, go up two flights of stairs and enter the middle door”.  A true hole in the wall and soo much fun!  Lesson learned: Don’t be afraid to try new places even at midnight in a 3rd world country.

The next day, we were on a plane to South Africa, and Kruger here we come!

Tropic of Capricorn!


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