That Island Ting: Madagascar

Akory ê!

I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while now but there were some… technical complications that occurred when it came to my website. Long story short, I accidentally deleted my databases and it led to the destruction of my website. Literally. But, somehow ya girl managed to bring it back from the dead and recreate everything – except the contents. I’m still working on that. So far, it’s looking pretty great.

I got back from my trip to Madagascar in early January and can I just say, I had the best time of my life. So many memories were made and I feel a much deeper connection to my little island than ever before now. While the main reason we went back home was to show my bother in law what Madagascar looks like, we were also all given the chance to discover a place we’ve never been to – aka the north. I guess you could say that it was a new experience for all of us. The trip started at the capital, Antananarivo – that’s where I grew up. We stayed there for a few days, went to visit the Royal Hill of Ambohimanga (probably was my fourth time there, but it never ceases to amaze me each time) – and of course, the jet lag hit me harder than a truck. The first three days consisted of visiting family members, buying food and snacks that we’ve all been missing, trying to fight the jet lag, and visiting all the hot spots of Antananarivo. Once it was the first Sunday, we hopped on a “taxi brousse” (a big group taxi) and left for the north, making Ankarana our first (one night) stop.

Ankarana was beautiful. It’s a very small village located in the north west of Madagascar. With the help of our agency, we were able to find a nice place to live in and completely immerse in our environment throughout the whole trip. We spent the next morning hiking at the National Park, went inside a bat cave and looked at the different tsingy of Madagascar. Unlike most National Parks in the US where we would most likely walk on man man roads, Ankarana had a very unique landscape. “In places where the calcific upper layers have been completely eroded, the harder base rock has been etched into channels and ridges known as tsingy.” The first few hours, we were walking in a forest then our path gradually changed to rocks. Pictures are worth a thousand words so below are some pictures of how the view and ground looked like. The hike itself took the whole morning to complete, we walked for 13 kilometers (8 miles) and let me just say, the cold shower after that hike was heavenly.

But our main destination was Nosy Be, which was also my favorite part of the trip – mainly because I’ve only ever seen pictures of the island but never in real life. When it finally happened, I couldn’t believe it. After leaving Ankarana, we arrived in Diego and from there, we went to port Ankify to get on with our trip to Nosy be, one of the most touristic places in Madagascar. It’s a little island up north that is surrounded by other smaller islands. Nosy Be is a magical place to be as far as spending vacation there. Words can’t begin to explain the beauty and the wonderful experience I had being there.

Each day, we would wake up at 6-7am, get breakfast and go on an adventure. We visited almost all of the little islands that surround Nosy Be, went on different hikes and of course, we saw lemurs. I mean, did you even go to Madagascar if you don’t see any lemurs? My favorite part was swimming with sea turtles and go scuba diving. I really wished I had a GoPro with me so I could’ve filmed that part. However, as a mini visual, I created the short video below that shows some parts of our trip there. Of course, everything looks ten time better in real life and I recorded the video from my phone but Nosy Be is definitely worth it. The North gave me a totally different experience from our other vacations in Madagascar because we usually would go to Mahajanga – which is another wonderful vacation spot – and I already know the place like the back of my hand. Don’t get me wrong, it’s always a good time when being in the west coast but it’s become a fairly popular spot and unfortunately, the tourists aren’t as respectful with the beaches when it comes to not littering and protecting the environment. Antsiranana, the northern part of Madagascar, is a bit more different. One, the road to go there isn’t the best and that is mainly why we never went there when we used to live back home. It took us a good 18-20 hours to go from the capital to our destination. In a way, it keeps people from traveling there as often. Also, two, the area is a lot more protected and cleanliness is enforced. Each time we visited another island, there was always someone there whose job is to make sure the beaches stay clean.

I spent most of my days on the beach, relaxing. At times when I found myself not doing much, I read. For Christmas, My sister, Mani, got me Don Miguel Ruiz’s wisdom book, The Mastery of Love. I’ve been meaning to get my hands on one of his books for the longest time and I can honestly say that it was worth the wait.

Before I left for Madagascar, I wasn’t in the best state emotionally. I was going through a nasty break up right before finals week that left me kind of dazed and confused. As I was pretty open about it, I also struggle a lot letting go of certain things. There were times when I swore I was fine and that I was over it, but when things weren’t going so well, I began to crave that sense of comfort that he would always give me with just his presence. But the time I had with myself allowed me to process everything in and reflect on what I could improve. My primary mistake was depending my happiness of someone else and holding them responsible for it. It easily led me believe I wasn’t going to be able to live without them so I couldn’t let it go. From that point on, I was questioning a lot things about this person, where we stood and if I wanted to keep fighting it or not. I never realized how lost I had been feelings until I started believing I wouldn’t be able to live without them beside me. Essentially, reading The Mastery of Love helped me get through that faster than I had anticipated. There is a lot that goes on in the book but essentially, its main purpose is to open the reader’s mind to the meaning behind their actions. Anger comes from . But I came out a lot happier with the outcome and myself. The best part of it all was me finding God in everything that I did. Believing that, through the darkness you will find always light, just as with God, you will always get through the hard times.

Going home was just what I needed to clear my head and remind myself of who I am. A family vacation was probably the last thing I thought I needed because I just wanted to be left alone. Instead, it allowed me to be vulnerable around them and really grow to love them more and unconditionally. I always end my blogs with a happy note but I think that is important. At the end of the day, you always gotta remember that things happen for a reason, just remind yourself to not give up on yourself just because things aren’t going the way you want it to go. Learn to accept yourself, others and the love that is coming to you. Either that is from God, friends, family, or even strangers.

This was probably kind of a long story but it was important for me write it. Everyone deserves to have an experience of a lifetime and I think Madagascar can be that magical place for everyone.

Cheers,

Bao

 

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