Africa 2017- Madagascar- Day 12: Leaving Tana

I have had really weird dreams since I arrived here- very long, elaborate ones, which have been very odd. Of course, because of the Van Damme reference, I dreamed we met him- only he was the weird guy Gavin who runs Hooli in the sitcom, Silicon Valley. I also got hired on at Bryan’s work because I had learned enough from his discussion of it to do some outsourcing for them…they clocked in and out with a laser gun and a tv like a video game. Oh! And a nemesis worked there too and was trying to get people to stop fostering with Motley Zoo…

It was weird to get up at 715 and think it was late, but we didn’t have to leave the hotel till 1230p. We spent the morning finishing packing and I was working on the images issue again. We decided to go out at about 1115 to cut our mango and have a drink by the pool when I saw Lima’s van there. They had already arrived!

We waved to Lima and he called Armand who was in the restaurant. He had brought his two girls, both named pretty names, but which I can’t remember…though I do remember their meanings: God’s gift and loved one. They are cute—5 and 6 and they greeted me with “bonjour” and stuck out their hands. Instead I said “salama” and they seemed confused, but smiled. They were excited to be with dad again.

As a guide he is gone for up to 2 weeks at a time, during which a family friend cares for them. His wife asked for a divorce last year, quite surprisingly, but the kids asked to stay with him and she didn’t contest. Apparently here kids can speak for themselves at 7 either way, which I so wish was the case in other places- namely where my dear friend and her kids are still being tormented and harassed by a sick, estranged husband/ father, who is only out for spite. They are being hurt daily by his presence and influence, never mind outright abuse…I would give anything to change this for them. If only Madagascar rules applied…

We sat down at the poolside tables and the little girls had some Sprite, clearly a treat. Lima came and sat with us and we shared our mango with them. Armand showed us the daily trip notes he makes for his tour groups, literally outlining each thing they do from morning until night. It is all hand done, even with drawings of the things they have done- mostly by him, but sometimes the guests. It is really cool and so nice of him to document this way.

He had prepared one for us, which listed the species we saw—which included 9 of the 12 main ones, which is pretty cool. We did note see tenerecs, which are like little hedgehogs, which I wish we could have, but we saw a lot- and we know we are lucky. Somehow on vacation, we do seem to have good luck, even though most often it seems the craziest lame things often happen to us in home life. I am not complaining, we have it good and we know it, but sometimes- especially this year- I have been seriously wondering when it will stop. I suppose though when you spend a lot of money and go half-way around the world to see things, there’s never a better time to have good luck!

On the back of our trip notes, Armand has included many Malagasy sayings and phrases, which will help me keep things fresh. I will try to find an online course or some kind of lessons when I can again connect to the internet…while it is fresh in my mind. If I let it lapse, it might seem like something I fancied but couldn’t possibly do…whereas if I just do it, it will become reality. Such is how I view most things…and I have indeed tackled and tried most things I have ever talked about! Why not, right?

We chat for a while and find out Lima has 2 teens, a boy and girl 15 and 16 so they can be pretty independent when he is gone. He travels a lot though too, so I am sure that’d hard. I didn’t ask about a wife or gf.

We exchange emails and make Facebook friend requests, but then it’s time to leave for the airport. The reality we will be leaving here is really hitting hard. I am so sad to go, it is a really amazing place full of so much excitement and interest…yes, poverty and such too, very heavily, but it only endears me more to the people who are never going to see anything outside of this day to day life.

When we pull out of the hotel, we realize there is a really cool souvenir shop directly across the street, which kind of bums us out…but we have saved every penny to split among Lima and Armand. Why leave with anything when it can instead so much more, benefit these great, hard-working people?

When we got to the airport, the guards stopped the girls from rolling my bag, but Lima had both our bags in hand and he continued. I had to stop and turn back to say goodbye. Armand hugged me, which was nice because I am sure this is not something he offers everyone, and I said goodbye to the little girls in Malagasy and shook their hands.

Lima was up near the security point with the backpacks and somehow two porters had grabbed the rolling bags- and we had nothing to give them. I have just handed over to Lima his share of the tip and quite literally had not a cent of Ariary left. I opened my hands and told the guys, azafady (sorry) and misaotra, which they honestly did seem to appreciate. I had some protein bars in my bag which I said was the only thing I had. They took it, I don’t know if they cared or not…but it was the best I could do.

As we got to the counter, the lady told us it was not possible to get our bags to Cape Town. What? Immediately we thought of the usual weight problem, but what could we do? Her English was somewhat limited but I got the gist that she meant it was not possible to tag them all the way through Johannesburg to CT, not that they couldn’t fly. That was a relief, but how strange is it that on the way here, we flew multiple airlines, through multiple countries and our bags were checked through…but here’s we’re taking one airline to one country and it isn’t? So bizarre. Just a note that when you travel internationally, seriously, pack as little as possible. Pack 1/3 what you think you will need. You will live and you will be happier for it!

So our bags go on the conveyor- again perhaps never to be seen again. Actually, we have no idea what we will do in Joburg really, because do you really leave the gates, go to baggage check then go all the way back through security? Is there another baggage claim for people moving within the country? We have no idea and it is these little things that do make you a bit edgy and uneasy when you’d instead normally be relaxed when you have another flight to catch!

Sitting in the airport, my legs are itching so badly. The red spots are now red patches and spreading, like whatever gives the histamine reaction was unleashed and is flowing underneath my skin. The Gold Bond lotion only helps so much and I don’t really want to go to the bathroom and put more on when I remember the Benadryl. I ask Bryan for some but I need water and we have no money. I ask him to hunt while I am trying not to claw my legs up. He comes back with some water and chips, which we mow down as well…but too late, the pill had gotten stuck in my throat and was causing terrible heartburn feeling…it would not go away.

We see other people and try to guess their nationality. The Americans we see have masks on- which we have since abandoned. It’s one family traveling together, and one of them looks sickly as it is. Honestly, we had forgotten when we’d gotten to Ft Dauphin, in all the bustle we’d made it into the airport and not put them on. By then- and especially with the heat and thirst- I was not going to wear one anyway…and here, although we intended to wear them, in the hustle and bustle we forgot…maybe it wasn’t too late, but we know the plague is under control now and it’s the news hype in America making them scared. Is it real? Yes…but at this point we’d probably been exposed to so much more, it didn’t seem to matter. There was one lady wearing hers sometimes, then eating and drinking and walking around with it down, then putting it on again…I see her on the plane now wearing it- kind of (the top is gaping)…I mean why wear one if that’s what you will do with it??

Many people we are pretty sure are French. There’s a couple with an REI bag we are pretty sure are American’s who are waving a UV wand in their water bottles. Duh, we didn’t have to spend $5 on water when we had our LifeStraw bottles?! But still, the comfort of bottled water is enticing. We probably paid another $5 in international transaction fees for it too…

Anyway, we’re not worried about the plague any more than anything else at this point. We wash our hands and don’t touch our faces or noses…that’s just it.

Our flight is called shortly after and we walk quite a ways on the tarmac to get to the plane. We’re on and this is where I am typing now. The adventure is to continue, now in South Africa where we have our shark dive scheduled for tomorrow I believe.

The hotel we are supposed to stay at sounds really nice. It is a smaller hotel, boutique style again, where the owner is there and every day greets you and asks you how things are. They go out of their way to make thing comfortable for you and it seems like a lot better bet than some big hotel where it’s all ritzy but not really and you spend a lot more for it. Trip Advisor (where we found this hotel) is really helpful and I will be posting about the Berenty Reserve, Hotel Andasibe and to sing the praises of Armand, Lima, François and Lambert!

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