Andasibe

With a long weekend ahead of me and an urge to finally leave Tana for the first time, my neighbor and I decided to go to Andasibe for a quick trip. Andasibe is a small town approximately 3 hours east of Antananarivo located in Moramanga and primarily visited by Vazahas (foreigners) for the Andasibe-Mantadia National Park. The rainforest is known for its biodiversity and being home to 11 species of lemurs ( however I believe I only saw two species).

So Saturday morning, with my bags packed, inspect repellent and a couple bottles of water ( including wine) in tow, we set out for my first trip outside Tana. Although excited by the trip, I was a bit nervous as I was traveling with someone I didn’t know very well and her driver. No, I wasn’t worried about being kidnapped or being used for human sacrifice in the Malagasy jungle, more about whether we would get along and if the trip would be fun. Lucky it wasn’t awkward and we bonded over my time in Senegal as she is Senegalese but hadn’t been back for years.

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Off to a great start with smiles all around.

Saturday afternoon, we arrived at Vakona Lodge (which is not in exactly town) but definitely the best hotel in the area and with a car, accessible. After sipping on our welcome cocktails we check into our rooms, grabbed a quick bite and planned our itinerary.

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Welcome cocktail¬† which was just orange juice and grenadine ūüė¶

 

Sunday morning and we opt for¬† the 3 – 4 hour hike option rather than the 6 hour option in the Mantadia National Park to see “animals”. So, for some reason, when they say animals in Madagascar, I expect¬†animals but the reality is that animals usually means lemurs and lizards. They are “animals” but I need more variety.

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The famous black and white ruffed lemur
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A chameleon attempting to play hide and seek by pretending to be a leaf.
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Dancing in the rain forest because I can
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A quick selfie with our second guide because the first one was drunk ( don’t ask)

So after our 3 plus hour hike, we saw two species of lemurs ( not the 11 advertised) as apparently, as the day progresses, the lemurs go somewhere else but come back late in the night. Our lovely guide, suggested that we come back at night to see more species of lemurs but given that we both preferred to be sipping on wine or sleeping, rather than roaming through the rain forest chasing “animals” we politely declined.

With our tour over, we decide to embark on the 10km walk back to our hotel ( just for fun and exercise).

We ended the day by splitting a bottle of wine, grabbing dinner and calling it a night.

Monday arrived and prior to buying fruits and veggies en route to Tana, we decide to be tourists for one last time and we went off to see the crocodiles.

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Crocodiles sunbathing 
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Spot the orange frog!
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A fossa in captivity. According to the Malagasy people, a fossa is animal that is a cross between a dog and a cat that hunts lemurs.

With this final visit, we said Veloma to Andasibe and hit the road. All in all, a great weekend trip with just enough activities to keep us occupied. Never exhausted or bored.

 

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Friendships

As you get older, you realize that your pool of friends slowly diminishes. Sure you may have 1,495 friends on Facebook but how many of those people are true friends? How many of those friends can you call up anytime of the day and say I need to talk and pour your heart out about something shite that just happened or pretty much scream down the phone some super exciting news? If you have more than 5 people you can do this with, well done! If you have more than 10, please email me and let me know how you did this.

When I moved to Senegal, I was worried about making friends. My sister told me not to worry and to remember that I have moved several times in the 3 decades of my life and each time I manage to make a great bunch of friends. My friends reminded me how loveable ( apparently), friendly and open I can be. They reassured me that I would make friends in no time. So I embarked on my journey  hopeful and with a positive attitude.

As I write this, perhaps I have not found my new best friend ( because my best friend still exists and we talk all the time)  but I can definitely say I have made some good friends and several acquaintances. And this is how I managed to do it. 

  1. When you first move to a new country, go to every single party you are invited to. Make that effort to go out. Seriously, if you are a home-body you are going to need to leave your house to meet other people.
  2. Go to events and interest groups around your city. Internations is usually a good start. You will soon realize that everybody is looking for friends.
  3. Exchange numbers with people you meet¬†and plan a “friend date”shortly afterwards.
  4. Keep in touch with people you get along with and invite them to various events.
  5. Try and make friends with people that are in the country long term or are nationals. Eventually your expat friends will leave and you will be all alone. To be honest, this is something that I have not been very successful at doing however I am currently making an effort to do this. My goal by the end of the year, is to have at least one Senegalese friend. And no, the guy that I dated does not count!
  6. Most importantly, be flexible and open to new people and experiences. 

I wrote this post because two of my friends will be leaving Dakar in September and to be honest, I am quite bummed out. While I am happy for them, it is clear that I need to go back to out there and make more friends. Clearly this illustrates that, one should always be meeting new people and making friends as you never know when you current friends might leave ūüė¶ !¬†