The Folks Come To Visit

Trip Start Aug 15, 2012
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16
Trip End Ongoing


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Where I stayed
La Marina Hotel
What I did
Indian Ocean

Flag of Madagascar  ,
Thursday, February 21, 2013

On February 21, I watched my parents deplane in Fort Dauphin after the long journey from Boise, Idaho, U.S.A., bewildered but excited. Possibly one of my favorite parts of the trip followed. I had showed up early to wait for the flight, and I ended up chatting and making friends with the women who hang out selling souvenirs in front of the airport. As soon as my parents left the airport, this group of women flocked to them, welcoming them to Madagascar and into the Malagasy family. It's hard to express just how happy this made me.

My parents were lucky enough to arrive two days before a cyclone (hurricane) hit southern Madagascar. The rain and wind was intense, but the reality of it didn’t hit us until the next couple days.  Many people’s houses where damaged, and every place that couldn’t drain was flooded.  In spite of this, we still tried to travel to Ambovombe the day after the storm.  We didn’t make it 45 minutes out of Fort Dauphin when there was a kilometer-long stretch of chest-high water over the road.  We made it through the next day, but the road, which is already really bad, was almost impassable.  Trenches cut across the road, and deep pools made it impossible to see the best place to drive. But what would a trip to Madagascar be without some crazy inconveniences?  Since we couldn’t travel, we got to spend some more time in Fort Dauphin.  We went to the big market, and my folks got to swim in the Indian Ocean, which was a big highlight for them. 

One of the truly wonderful moments of the trip was when I was able to introduce my family to my new family.  Fenolily and Ampela put on an amazing feast for my parents, and they gave wonderful gifts.  My parents were very moved by how loving and wonderful my Malagasy family is, and my Malagasy family had been waiting anxiously for months to finally meet my parents. My Malagasy family has been a blessing for me through the challenges and joys in my life as a white American in Ambovombe, and it was so great to share this wonderful part of my life with my parents.

After Ambovombe, we went to Berenty Reserve, a private park filled with flora and fauna unique to Madagascar.  I had been there before, and I was excited to introduce my parents to this little paradise.  We were taken on three separate tours through the park, during which we got to see five different species of lemurs, two of which were nocturnal.  It is a beautiful place, where the only sounds are the grunts and calls of the lemurs and the buzzing insects.  It smells of pure wilderness.

The fun part of having people I know so well in a place I know so well is they reminded me what it is like to be there with fresh eyes. I do not take the South for granted, but it has become my home. I had forgotten what it was like when I first arrived. My parents saw the markets packed with people, the herds of cows and goats, the crazy drivers, the sand and cactus, the incomprehensible new language, and the traditional clothing all with a new perspective.  It was good for me to remember just how unique and exciting this place is.
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