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Part 2:
Day 1




by Xin Lin
October 2015

Move it on to Madagascar: Day 1

As soon as the airplane touched the ground, I was exhausted. Having endured a 13 hour plane ride, getting back on the solid ground was amazing, but it also was tiring. The terminal we arrived at was small. We were met by Franck. Franck stood there before us in a nice button down and sneakers, he was clean shaven and had a kind eyes. His boisterous laugh greeted us before he did; the smile on his face was never rare.

Franck showed us the best place to exchange our currency. The exchange rate at the time was 1300 Ariary to 1 USD. In Madagascar, we were rich. We left the airport terminal with our bags filled with cash. Some of us had it deep in our bags and some of us carried it in a cash pouch we strategically brought with us. I put my money in an envelope I put in a bigger envelope; it was how I handed large amounts of money. After the exchange, we all loaded up into a bus and we were on our way to the hotel we would stay at for the night, the Jacaranda.

After got settled in at our hotel, we wandered around Antananarivo, the biggest city and capital of Madagascar. In the Malagasy language the capital means City of Thousands and everyone calls it Tana for short. There were little to no sidewalks and we shared the streets with numerous cars.

The restaurant we ate at that night, La Boussole, was indoors and there was a beautiful entwined grape vine as high as the ceiling growing inside that spread around the room like it belonged there. The branches clung to the walls and it held lights up above our heads.

Patricia Wright told us story after story of her time here in Tana and at Ranomafana, the National Park adjacent to Centre ValBio. Ranomafana is Malagasy for Hot Water. Her stories all centered on her conservation efforts in Madagascar with the help of others like Benjamin Andriamihaja, USAID, and various other organizations. With the wide range of biodiversity in Madagascar, it should be our top priority to help save and preserve the environment that had allowed that biodiversity to evolve.

That first dinner we ever had together was going to bond us in a way I didn't think was going to happen. I still hadn't figured everyone out yet, but I knew they were good people, good company. The air was fresh and crisp at night and we all walked together on the way back to the hotel.

After a long shower, all I wanted to do was sink into bed and sleep for maybe a week but I took out my phone and texted my girlfriend about the torturous plane ride. I finally went to sleep at midnight, but at least the beds were nice and comfy. Tomorrow was going to be a long day and and I would soon learn that no part of me would regret it.

Xin Lin did Study Abroad in Madagascar at the Centre ValBio with renowned anthropologist and SBU professor Dr Patricia Wright. Each issue she will write about her adventures.

Those interested in studying in Madagascar should check out the Study Abroad website but before its academic verbiage scares you away, check out the trailer for the IMAX movie, Island of the Lemurs, and you'll understand why students who took the leap of faith and went are so glad they did.
SBU Study Abroad in Madagascar
Island of the Lemurs: Madasgascar

My Summer in Madagascar
Part One: Intro - A Long Journey








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