We have been flying our drone here a lot recently. Thanks a lot to Gavin for bringing his drone here over the summer and teaching Khen how to fly it. Our kayaking promo video was filmed in July while Gavin was here to take some really great film. He also spent time flying around Varibolo and showing the local children themselves on the iPad controller. It went so well that we got our own drone to use permanently here, even when Gavin is not able to be the pilot and videographer.
At Varibolo, we have probably one of only a handful of camera drones in all of Madagascar. This has led to interest from many different people and groups who would like to use the footage for various purposes. One of our first projects with the drone was to create a video of Ranomafana National Park to show everyone entering the park what they might see inside. There is also some kayak video mixed in, and the kayak tours have also been generating a lot of interest and business. We just installed a nice screen that is now looping this video, and our goal is to continually take more footage and update the content.
Khen was also called to take drone video about 7 hours away from Ranomafana for a big event. There is a Malagasy ceremony that takes place every few years where a large congregation of people gather at a tomb of their ancestors. People travel from all over the country to pay their respects to relatives that have died recently or even long ago. It is not exactly a funeral, and it is generally a happy event that takes place over 3 days. Musicians perform, animals are sacrificed, and a lot of Malagasy rum is consumed. The tombs are opened, the bodies are carried around for a while, then they are returned to their place of burial. Everyone puts some new things into the tomb such as drinks, snacks, clothes, or a bit of money. There are a few different ideas in Madagascar about the afterlife, but they generally believe their ancestors are still present in their daily life in many ways. The drone video from this came out great, I’m sure the organizers of the event were so happy to be able to see everybody celebrating their heritage from angles only the drone can reach.
The drone was used next in a Malagasy church service both inside and outside of a big chapel in the city of Fianarantsoa. Famous Malagasy musicians have our phone number and will probably be interested in using drone footage for their music videos.
In collaboration with Centre ValBio and the commune of Ranomafana, we have done a few extractions now of essential oils. I acquired 60 small bottles that we’ll use to start selling some samples locally here. The park entrance, the village, and CVB will all be locations for distributing our products.
I am happy with the success of all these different projects. This coming weekend there will be a celebration in the village for world lemur week. Today I received an invitation to a Malagasy Halloween party that is a benefit for the tour guide association of Ranomafana. Then in a few weeks, just before I leave, there will be another celebration for the 25th anniversary of the national park. Malagasy people love to have parties. It brings many different people together and it’s always really nice to see everyone interacting with each other and having fun. These next few weeks will be busy in a great way. I’ll be home before Thanksgiving to share all of my stories, pictures, and videos from this productive and enjoyable trip.