I had the greatest time going to Morondava this past week with my group. It was the one week out the trip where we did not have to worry about academics and was able to relax. The hotel we stayed at was right on the beach so we could throw off our flip flops and walk bare foot from our bungalow to the sandy beach and watch the sunrise in the morning before breakfast. Although before arriving at the hotel, we took a trip to see the sunset near the Baobab trees. Madagascar has 6 of the 8 species of this tree which is described as the “upside down tree” because its branches look like roots sticking up in the air. I read that when the gods planted the trees, the trees kept walking away so they placed them upside down instead.
A major part of our trip was climbing the Tsingy which is an area of land that use to be underwater which then rose and became home to some of the first inhabitants of Madagascar. The pointy needle like shape of the limestone was created due to the heavy acidic rainfalls. Tsingy is the Malagasy word for “walking on tiptoes”. It was given because the community of people who lived there wore no shoes and had to carefully walk across the limestone needles. I enjoyed walking through small tunnels and climbing up the side of rocky walls. I was even able to see a group of 10 brown lemurs play “follow the leader” as they made their way through the trees of the Tsingy. Although a major tourist attraction, the Tsingy was not easy to get to. We travelled in 4×4 vehicles on dirt roads that were rocky, bumpy, unpaved, and had many potholes. It made many of the people in my group sick and it was much worse than a rollercoaster ride. Once we have driven about 3 or 4 hours we had to catch a ferry to cross the river and then another 3 or 4 hour drive on a rode that was even worse than the one before. My head was thrown back and forth and the dust from the road was constantly being swept into the car. I washed my face the night after the ride and a ton of dirt dripped from my wash cloth into the sink. It was definitely a ride to remember. At least during the ride I was able to share some of my African music with my group to ease the pain of being thrown around.
Back in Morondava a few days later I was able to play on the beach and get swept away by the waves and it was rewarding after finishing a long research paper on maternal mortality and healthcare. The best part was experiencing a piece of the Malagasy culture I did not expect to see. There was a Rastafarian bar just around the corner from our hotel on the beach. There were many men with dreadlocks and they even used the bar/restaurant as a shrine to Bob Marley. There was a live band with drum players, guitarists and singers who played African inspired reggae. At different points in the music, two women matching in Malagasy cloths with bantu knots danced in sync. They called me “Rastawoman” and asked me to show my dreadlocks. It was the first time I was surrounded by others who had locs here in Madagascar. They understand how my hair got dreaded and knew that they were not braids or twists. It was great being part of the majority instead of being the center of questions. Even the girls on my trip did not understand my hair and I had to explain many different things to them.
So in all, my trip to Morondava was filled with adventures, shopping and beach time. I am now back at home with my family in Tana spending 4 of the 5 nights I have left here in Madagascarwith them.