So we’ve reached the end of this blogging adventure, and I thought I’d end with a few final thoughts about my experience in Madagascar. I hope I’ve given you a little taste of what Madagascar is like, although in truth there’s simply no way to describe it so that you really get the feeling of the place. It’s one of a kind, and I would say move it to the top of your Travel list because it’s amazing.
The Best about Beza: The best thing about Beza is the regularity and the lack of distractions; admittedly, if you were there for more than a month, those things become the WORST things about Beza. There is no internet, no phone, not enough electricity from the generators for computers to actually work on things like grants or papers, or watch tv, and only 3 lightbulbs in the entire camp. The sun comes up at 5:30 am and goes down at 6 pm, at least in winter.
But the funny thing is, with all of the additional things I would make sure I brought if I were ever to go back (think chocolate), I don’t think I would change absolutely anything about Beza itself. As annoying and gross as some of the things are (a long-drop porcelain toilet that hasn’t been cleaned in 5 days), I wouldn’t add running water or toilets or showers or houses or anything. I really liked my little tent, it’s organization and it’s homeyness. I wasn’t wild about my extra stuff sitting outside the tent admittedly to avoid the hell that is the rat-infested lab, but that’s mostly for security but also in case it rains? I like squatting in the shower room to use the solar shower because water doesn’t actually come out unless the line is straight down and the bag hangs right at head height. I sort of like walking to the bathroom at night and seeing geckos, checking for spiders, tapping your boots every day because they sit outside the tent (to keep the dirt out) and they might have scorpions in them. The cockroaches aren’t even that bad (probably because you just don’t look for them here) or maybe they’re just overwhelmed by the rat problem. I absolutely LOVE being able to see so many stars at night, and the Milky Way Galaxy. I tried to take a couple minutes every night and look at it because it’s so cool. Although I sort of miss the internet, I love that there are no distractions. Like I honestly did not work on anything else while I was there, I was too busy soaking up the experience, because it truly was once in a lifetime. I refused to try to work on grants or manuscripts or anything, because right then, I was in Madagascar, and I may never get the chance to go back, and I didn’t want to miss a single second. It’s a totally new experience not to be distracted in the middle of everything by a new email or a new emergency or whatever. All things at Beza have to do with your project. There are no emergencies about genetics or TAing or family or anything. It’s all about Beza. It’s pretty amazing to be unburdened with all of those things (even though you sort of miss it).
Azafady (Thank you in Malagasy) to the National Science Foundation for funding this trip, my advisor for my project, Michelle and Frank for collaborating with me, our travel team for being amazing, and you guys, for reading!