I’ve now returned home after spending 10 weeks a full 8,759 miles from my home of Seaford, NY. It feels peculiar so far because I had been thinking of the Madagascar rainforest as my home for a while. The relaxed yet enthusiastic way I went about living every day in Ranomafana National Park was a great mindset to be in and it really allowed me to have what amounted to the best experience of my life.
I feel really fortunate to have been able to study with some great professors, researchers, and other students. Everyone’s independent projects went well and it was great to support each other’s work at the presentations we did in Ranomafana and Antananarivo. I was pleased with the results of my crab research; out of 200 crabs I sampled and measured in the area I found 2 different species. Since the national park was founded in 1991 nobody had done this study yet. Since I was only able to go to about 10 locations of the hundreds in the area, some future research definitely needs to be conducted on the subject. If I had the opportunity to continue any of my study in the future that would certainly be something I would be interested in.
There are people and places that I already miss. 10 weeks is a long time to spend with a group of 15 people for 18+ hours every day. I didn’t sleep in a room by myself for 73 nights. These 15 people who were all previously complete strangers to me all went through the same activities as me for an extended period of time. We all saw and heard the same sights and sounds, and we all breathed in the clean Madagascar air together. Our close proximity for this time resulted in a uniting experience with strong bonds that formed and will remain a large part of how I remember the trip. I’m glad that I made some good friends. I am sure we will always speak fondly of the times we shared halfway around the world where we found each other and ourselves.
If I can’t get myself a ticket back to Ranomafana to work on crabs, I want to help my friend Khen and his family turn their restaurant in a hotel. I know we could make it work and it would be a terrific way for me to get back to this rainforest where things might seem like they are a little behind the USA….but it’s the absence of some things and simplicity of others that are major factors of my attraction to that style of living which is impossible to sustain or even to obtain in New York. I know now what I really need to have in my life in the short and long term to survive and enjoy every day from morning until night.
I am happy to have felt so much love and support from everyone who feels like they got something out of reading about my time in Madagascar. I know my mom would be my biggest supporter if she were here. I thought about her often during my trip and feel thankful that her adventurous spirit runs through me and gives me a desire to do special things when an opportunity presents itself. I did my best to extend the part of me that is her into every interaction I had there, and I am feeling more connected to her now than I had been for a while. I hope I can share this connection going forward and that people can see and feel Kim’s presence when they interact with me. I am not sad, I am happy, and I know that is what she wanted for me.
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