I spent a bit over a week in Madagascar. When I flew in, I was sitting near the emergency exit and the flight attendant explained how to open the emergency door. It was the first time I’ve had a flight attendant ask me: “If I’m incapacitated due to a crash, please take me with you when you exit the plane.”
Unfortunately I missed out on some parts of Madagascar that I wanted to see because Air Madagascar had cancelled all of their domestic flights due to a strike. I still got to Morondava, but I had to endure a 14 hour bus ride to get there. It was one of those trips where you don’t want to drink too much – only a couple of toilet stops (where you have the option of pissing behind a wall). We stopped at one place for petrol and more than 20 people swarmed around the van, trying to sell things. About half of the people were selling bags of raw carrots. A few people on the van bought some bags. Sadly, no one bought anything from the woman selling kitchen whisks.
We arrived into Morondava around 10 at night. I hadn’t booked any accommodation because I wasn’t sure if I was going to flying that morning. There was a beach bungalow place I was going to check out the next day, but since it was late, I just wanted to stay at a cheap hotel near the bus station.
The minivan driver spoke a tiny amount of English and I speak a little bit of French. He asked where I was going, and I said I was going to check a hotel across the road. He shook his head vehemently and made a throat cutting gesture. (And he wasn’t trying to get a commission at another hotel).
I ended up at another nearby hotel. I asked if they had any rooms.
The receptionist replied – “You must look at the rice.”
– Excuse me?
– You must look at the rice.
He pointed to a sign showing the PRICES of the rooms. Since I just wanted a bed for the night I got the $8 a night room.
In Morondava I visited Kirindy Forest, which is supposedly the world’s most biodiverse area for primates. Basically there are a whole lot of lemurs hiding in trees.
There were also some owls hiding in trees.
And I also met a fossa – a kind of lemur-eating cat.
I also visited the Avenue of the Baobabs (in Australia similar trees are called boabs) and watched the spectacular sunset there.
Once you’ve travelled a bit, you realise that foreign cultures aren’t that different and there’s a shared universality to the human experience. Life in Madagascar isn’t that different from life in Australia. Pretty much every day in Melbourne, cheerleaders stop me and ask me to take their photo.
Madagascar is not somewhere you go for fine cuisine. Restaurant menu options will usually consist of choices such as:
Spaghetti: With Garlic
Spaghetti: With Butter
Chicken: With Sauce
Some restaurants also offer Chinese cuisine. That usually means
Chicken: With Chinese Sauce