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Blog by MBP Prolemur simus Team Alumni 2013, Victoria

Vic_Aus-1… noticeably lacking in lemurs. I mean seriously, I go on a bush walk and all I’m seeing is kangaroos, echidnas and snakes!

To say that returning home from Madagascar was bittersweet is a colossal understatement. It was amazing to see my family and friends and to go about my day with such ease (no language barriers!), but as the days turned to months, and I returned to my office job, the rainforests of Kianjavato never seemed so desirable.

One of the hardest things about seeing people for the first time was the inevitably ‘so how was Madagascar?’. An impossible question. Had I just been on holiday I may have been able to recall immense detail, providing tales of the differences between our countries. But I hadn’t, I had lived there for a year. I don’t mean to imply I ever forgot I was living in a different country, but the stark contrasts between Aussie life and Mada life blurred. You’re telling me it’s not normal to squat on my haunches while I wait for the bus? Why are you so shocked about me eating cat? And then the second question (oh how I loathe this one) … ‘so what are you going to do now?’. Hmmm, that is a good question. I still don’t know. I am back at my old job (it took just a little grovelling for them to take me back), living with my old housemate, completely engaged in my old Perth life. But it’s not enough. As if I needed more reasons to avoid settling down, my time in Madagascar has reminded me that there is too much world to see, to be stuck in one place for too long. So now I am using that motivation to look for a PhD project, so that running around the forest chasing after animals can become a career. Oh, and having some awesome referees (Dr Ed Louis and Dr Cynthia Frasier) to attest to my lemur chasing skills hopefully won’t hurt my chances.

Until my next sea change is confirmed, I am satisfied with counting down my days until I return to Madagascar. I couldn’t not go back. It has been harder than I imagined keeping in touch with the friends I made. When I returned to Australia, one of the first things I did was write and send a letter … which arrived in Kianjavato 4 months later! If my friends get access to the internet, then the time difference inevitably means I miss the chance to chat. Australian phone companies seem determined to prevent anyone in Madagascar from receiving a text message from me. So I call, which is shockingly expensive (even through Skype) and results in a phone call consisting of ’are you there?’, ’I can’t hear you’, ‘can you hear me?’ most of the time.

So I’ve booked a return trip in November. Perfect timing for baby lemur and litchi season, what a coincidence.