I have been enjoying myself at Centre ValBio (CVB) for the 5 days I’ve spent here so far. It really is a top-notch facility with researchers and visitors alike coming from all over the world. It was built recently so everything is new and clean and very cool. The rooms (for us) are akin to those of a college dorm, but the extensive staff of the facility makes it seem just as much of a hotel as a campus. There is a cleaning crew, laundry service, cooks, guides, guards, and administration that work every day to keep CVB running. Every meal is a 3-course meal that is cooked by the kitchen staff and served on individual plates. I’ve been eating plenty of rice and vegetables and have no complaints, everything has been great. There are also a couple small restaurants within a 5 minute walk that have tasty french fries and sandwiches.
CVB is situated inside Ranomafana National Park, which is home to many species of lemurs and other animals that are not found anywhere in the world outside of Madagascar. I have been lucky enough to see a pair of Greater Bamboo Lemurs, the only 2 such animals that are inside the entire national park. I’ve also seen snakes, frogs, fish, crabs, geckos, chameleons, insects, and more….all of which are endemic to Madagascar, meaning no other place on earth is home to these species. It is a very special place to live and work for the next few weeks. As nice as the buildings on campus are, I sometimes find myself wanting to separate even further from lights and electricity to spend more time camping outdoors and experiencing the environment and wildlife with zero external stimuli. We might have a few more nights of camping, I’m not sure yet. In about 2 weeks we do have a 10-day trip where we will travel across Madagascar into many different regions, including rainforest, dry forest, desert, and the beach. I’m looking forward to the voyage.
Also, as many of my fellow students on the trip continue to come down with various (non-serious) health ailments, I have managed to keep entirely healthy which has been terrific. That has not limited me from participating in any and all activities. I don’t feel limited in any aspect of daily life, and it is a very free and wonderful feeling.