Yesterday, on Sunday, we finally got to the ValBio research center. The past week has been spent camping out in the woods and staying one night in a village inside of Malagasy homes. The camping trip was in the forest of Maromizaha, and we had the opportunity to take hikes each day in order to observe various species of lemurs and other animals. We pitched tents to sleep in, and our meals were prepared by Malagasy (native to Madagascar) cooks who also slept at our campground. In Madagascar, every meal has rice and vegetables, and meat, chicken, or fish is also included. Some of the students on the trip got sick about halfway through the week of camping, and they left the site to see a doctor over four hours away…I was fortunate enough to avoid whatever it was that affected them, and have been feeling healthy for the duration of the trip so far. All affected students have since recovered and rejoined our group. Now we’ll spend the rest of the trip at the research center except for a 10 day cross-country trip at some point. The landscape is amazing here and I’m excited to get out into the forest and explore!
Today was Sunday, which is usually a day off for us. We had a short lecture after breakfast about primates in Madagascar and their evolution which was cool. In just a few days we’re going to be seeing some lemurs and other animals in the wild. After that lesson, we took about a 1 hour bus ride to a palace where kings and queens used to rule from. It’s all the way up on the top of a mountain, and overlooks the entire city of what is now Antananarivo (population 2 million). A lot of the city is very poor, typical houses are very small and crowded together. The views from the palace were incredible, the visibility is far-reaching in every direction. After exploring the palace grounds for a few hours, we ate lunch and returned back to our hotel. After a quick nap we went to an Italian restaurant for dinner, where I ate some Zebu (Madagascar cow) steak….it was great! Tomorrow we have a full slate of lessons on plants and animals of Madagascar. Tuesday we will set out on a 5 day camping trip where I won’t have any internet access, then we’ll travel to the ValBio research center to spend a majority of the trip there.
Here’s a picture of me and my Malagasy (Madagascar native) friend on top of the mountain overlooking the city! He attends a university in Madagascar and is one of 2 Malagasy students to be participating in the entire trip with us. It’s great to have some native students to help with a language barrier and to provide some great info into the culture of the country.
Today was a long day….we started out with a walk to the highest point of Antananarivo which had some great views of Madagascar. In the afternoon we made our way to the city Zoo and checked out lots of cool animals there. There was a makeshift ferris wheel at the Zoo that was turned manually….by a group of about five 10-year-olds running up and down to make it move (as well as charging a fee). It seemed extremely dangerous for them but extremely fun for me!
Once I get to the ValBio research center, I should be able to upload a big file of pictures or a video. The hotel I’m currently in isn’t able to support that much internet usage. Here I am enjoying myself on the ferris wheel in the zoo!
(click the picture for a better view)
The flight from New York to South Africa was 18 hours. Then another 4 to Madagascar. We took a bus to a hotel in the capital city of Antananarivo. We are in the Saint Laurent hotel here. We’ll stay a few nights here before going camping for 4 days, then we’ll make our way to Centre ValBio for the remainder of the trip. Here is a view from the roof of the hotel.
Tomorrow I am flying out of New York and into South Africa. Excited to share some pictures when I arrive in Madagascar later this week. Here’s one of the Centre ValBio where I will be staying