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Journey to Madagascar 2009 

October 13, 2009

Two Days of Travel

Today we leave Montagne d’Ambre and head for Tana by plane with the Hotel Colbert – a.k.a. the “mother ship” as our destination. We have an overnight there, just enough time to eat dinner, upload the blogs, and repack the traveling bags (we all leave a big suitcase at the Colbert.) Then tomorrow we are off on an all-day drive to Ranomafana. We will be away from Tana for five days of traveling in the south.

This morning has been a time to wash clothes and catch up on details. Most of our crew are off for another morning of lemur looking. I stayed behind to do the housekeeping, both computer version and the more mundane wash. I think I had reached my quota of lemurs for the moment.

Last evening we had dinner at the lodge and then made our way to the bungalows using our flashlights. This is the kind of trip for which the flashlight was invented. As noted earlier, we have electricity only between 6 and 10 PM, so we were charging our batteries like crazy last evening. Then we hit the pillows and the power went off. AFter that, the world was enveloped in a new definition of a dark. They have stars here – the full set. Fortunately it wasn’t stormy, though the wind gusted and howled around the bungalow with such force that I half expected there would be a foot of snow on the ground in the morning. Instead, morning dawned with bright sun and warm air. It was good to have several blankets for the night, however.

The snug but windy bungalow

View from the bungalow at sunset


As I sat on the porch of our hut this morning, a local woman carrying a baby in a wrap on her back walked by. I noticed that the perimeter of the grounds of the Nature Lodge is bounded by a rusty barbed wire fence. It blends in with the vegetation, but it’s there. The woman looked at me as if I were from another world, which in fact I am. Her home most likely has only one room, no running water, and no electricity. Her day is bounded by the hours of daylight and darkness, which here near the equator reliably are 12 and 12. Our guide told us that country people typically get up around 4 AM and work in the fields much of the day. They return home in mid-afternoon so they can use the remaining hours of daylight for domestic chores and whatever. Darkness comes quickly around 6 PM.

School is available for the kids but is limited to what we would call primary school. Schools offering upper level grades exist in the cities but not in the countryside. I plan to quiz Vy a lot more about the education system in Madagascar simply because so much of the future of this country will be determined by the education available to its young people today.

Soon it will be time for lunch. The power will be switched on in the main building so I think I should be able to recharge my laptop. Electrons are precious. After lunch we head for the airport and another adventure with Air Madagascar.

Assuming this message reaches you, I want you to know that we will be “silent” in blog terms for about five days until we return from the south to the Hotel Colbert. Then we will upload, all at once, the blogs and pictures we will accumulate in the south. It’s communication by big gulp. There really isn’t any alternative since this sort of communication requires a high speed link and so far the only one we have had access to has been in Tana. If you dream of escaping the Internet, check out Madagascar.

Filed under: Uncategorized — greg @ 12:30 pm

1 Comment »

  1. Aaaargh!! I never saw a tenrec!! Bring one back!!

    Comment by Bpb Drewes — October 14, 2009 @ 4:38 pm

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The Chief Penguin


Greg Farrington

Greg Farrington, Executive Director of the California Academy of Sciences, is visiting the island of Madagascar. He is joined by his wife, and Academy researchers, who are surveying and assessing this biodiversity hotspot.

Visit the Farringtons' personal blog, Madagascar Adventure, for in-depth details of this Academy expedition.

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