Blog by MBP Volunteer,Thomas
I arrived in Antanananarivo, or Tana for short, in the afternoon of November 7th and was met at the airport by Dr. Ed Louis, Stefan, and Nirina. On our trip to the MBP office along the bustling and narrow streets of the capital I learned more about the country and MBP from the experienced Ed and the two locals.
I met the friendly staff before dropping my stuff at the adjacent house, where Ed lives upstairs and the first floor has rooms for volunteers and guides to stay when needed. There I met Eric, a fellow volunteer who had arrived a couple days earlier. He is from Canada and has done some very cool things around the world, especially a bunch of research in Southeast Asia. We had dinner at a nearby restaurant and I had a nice meal of chicken and French fries for around 1.50 American dollars. Upon returning to the office I slept a long sleep after 2 days of airport and airplane insomnia.
In the morning I met Hillary, another volunteer from Canada who had arrived the previous night. Another cool person who has done cool things. We shopped for some breakfast items, and after cooking some eggs with baguette and ramen headed to the national zoo, perhaps a couple mile walk. It was interesting to experience some of the city on foot, and seeing a variety of local wildlife at the zoo. One bizarre occurrence was a man lightly taunting an ostrich (not local) which got him a near bite to the face for his efforts. The bird then went into a bizarre intimidation dance where it sat down, bending its knees backwards and waving its head while flapping one wing at a time. Other highlights included the lemurs, fossa, and local birds.
After the zoo we grabbed lunch, a chocolate crepe for me, and walked back to the office. A lazy hot late afternoon was followed by another cheap dinner and early bed. Eric took off in the morning for the field site near Kianjavato, with Hillary and I to follow the next day.
The adventure for our last day in Tana was to acquire cell phones, and we took a taxi deeper into the city to do so. We encountered a massive market that stretched down and up the street as far as the eye could see, and while exploring it were both mobbed by vendors selling their goods. I bought a French map of Madagascar from one such man, practicing my bartering skills. In more crowded areas it felt as though we melded in with the flow of bodies, but I am sure we were noticed as “vazahs,” a friendly term used to describe strangers here. We also found a phone shop. A man with good English helped us select a rather inexpensive French model with apparently good battery life. We checked out the market a bit more before taxiing back to the office and preparing for the journey to Kianjavato, where we are to spend the next six months. The next blog will detail my first experiences with Greater Bamboo Lemurs, the purpose of my stay here.