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Blog from Volunteer, Max

Photo: View of Sangasanga from Vatovavy Courtesy of B. Vezina


I had to check twice when I saw that my watch said it was June 21st. I’ve been in Madagascar for nearly two entire months, yet it feels like just a few days ago. I was stumbling out of the car into the KAFS kitchen after a 12 hour car ride from Tana. The stampede of people rushing to introduce themselves to me and shake my hand that first night was overwhelming, but I’ve already made friends with practically everyone at camp. Following lemurs for several hours a day gives you a good opportunity to get to know the people you’re with!

The work is physically demanding–climbing slopes, dodging thorny vines, and fending off mosquitoes while sprinting after lemurs. Last week we had to scale the mountain at one of the forest sites, Sangasanga, to collect fecal samples from the rubriventer lemurs. The 4 lemurs decided they wanted to go to the very top of the mountain and we, of course, had no choice but to follow them. Panting and drenched in sweat, I managed to catch up with the guides and other volunteer, Cara. Thankfully, the lemurs cooperated after that and we got our fecal samples much earlier than anticipated. This gave us time to climb the flight of stairs to the very, very top of the mountain and enjoy the view. Enjoy is an understatement. It was a cool and foggy morning, but the view of the small mountains, valleys, towns, and forest fragments was really breathtaking. I stood in awe for several minutes, admiring the view with Cara and breathing in the cool air. We stayed up there with the guides for about twenty minutes before taking the equally scenic route back down the mountain’s slope.

Moments like seeing that view, locking eyes with curious lemurs, listening to serene bird songs in the forest, and laughing with the Malagasy guides despite the language barriers erase all of the pains and aches from the constant hiking and remind me how fortunate and happy I am to be here. Four and a half more months to go and I intend to make the most of it. At this rate, I’ll come back home with the toned calves I’ve always dreamt of!

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