It hasn’t rained here in Ranomafana in 2 weeks. This has to be the longest stretch of time that I’ve spent in the rainforest without a drop of rain. The weather is usually between 70 and 80 degrees, so it’s been great conditions for kayaking, and for the researchers who are studying animals in the forest. But the ecosystem here also depends on rain. The river is more shallow than usual, and I’m sure many of the crops and any other plants growing here will need water soon. Outside of Centre ValBio, very few people have access to hose systems, or any running water. They filter the water here so it’s safe to drink, but outside CVB the water would probably be dangerous for me to have. Malagasy people here often drink water sourced straight from the river.
This week, Varibolo was pretty busy, with a few kayak tours running in the mornings and tourist groups eating at the Resto for lunch every day. In addition, the study abroad students from Stony Brook have taken a liking to the great food and relaxed atmospshere at Varibolo, and they frequently take the 5 minute walk over from CVB to take a break from their lectures and coursework. Varibolo needed some extra help to handle all of these people, so I spent time working at the restaurant, taking food orders from the English-speaking visitors and bringing out food and drinks. The Randriamamonjy family, who live and work at Varibolo year-round, were also missing Khen and and his father this week as they visited family in their hometown of Antsirabe, which is a 5 hour drive from Ranomafana. I worked with Khen’s brother Patrick and their mother as they took over the food preparation duty for a while. It was a great experience, I’m glad I was able to lend a hand. Their family has really made me feel welcome with them and with Madagascar. As fortunate as I have been to have made connections with Stony Brook and Dr. Pat Wright, I feel extremely close with the Randriamamonjys. Their actions and acceptance of me have been nothing short of familial, and their mother has introduced Khen, Patrick, and myself to people as her “three sons”. This connection means a lot to me and I know these people will be in my life for a long time.
This eel was amazing! I split it with 3 other people and it wasn’t enough for all of us. This was the smallest eel I’ve seen here. Sometimes these eels get huge and can feed up to 20 people. They are caught locally in the river.