Although it pains me to say it, as it is quite cliché, so much has happened in the last week here that I hardly feel like I can accurately describe even 1/10th of it. We arrived in Antananarivo, the capitol of Madagascar, last Thursday on a hot and humid day. Unbeknownst to me, that would be the coolest and least humid of my days here thus far. The average day leaves me sweaty and sunburned, although I have been quite diligent about applying my sunscreen. I can happily say that I have started to get tan lines, including some awesome ones on my feet from my Chacos (pictures to follow once they are really defined).
I love every moment that I have spent on this beautiful tropical island, and it is quite saddening that it may not remain this way for much longer because of the rampant slash and burn agriculture techniques. The issues behind the deforestation will take all semester to untangle and even then, I don’t think we will really have scratched the surface of the problem.
We stayed in Tana for two days while all the students flew in from all over the US, and Switzerland. Unfortunately, Clair was delayed in Boston and wasn’t able to hop a flight until Sunday, by which time she had missed our internal flight that brought us to Fort Dauphin, where we will be based this semester. Tana is a sprawling city that sits in the Central Highlands of Madagascar and consists of the upper and lower city. Our hotel was in the upper city and was about five stories tall with a large open room on the roof that had a spectacular view of the lower city. Because there is a lack of new materials in the city, houses are constructed from bits and pieces of older houses or odds and ends, and they usually tend to be different colors, which results in a mosaic of beautifully colored walls and roofs all across the city, and a gorgeous sight at dusk. Additionally, the breeze on the roof helped us all cool down a bit.
We went to the Tsimbazaza Zoo on Friday and SAW OUR FIRST LEMURS!!! They were ringtails and their ‘cage’ was a small island in the center of a manmade lake (because they can’t swim it keeps them contained). We all sat on a bench and watched them leap around and munch on fruit for about a half an hour before our teachers finally dragged us away.