by Xin Lin
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
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
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
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
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
SBU Study Abroad in Madagascar
Island of the Lemurs: Madasgascar
My Summer in Madagascar
Part One: Intro - A Long Journey