11 de setembre 2012

The 8th continent

Stopover in Mauritius, all I could get...

My days of rest before my next destination in Madagascar end today en route to Nosy Be.

Madagascar is impressive, and this is being said after seeing very very little. Unique sights, life, colours and contrasts. An incredible country, absolutely stunning.

Received by Monsieur Victor at the Tana Airport, such an honour!

I arrived at the airport and I was received by Monsieur Victor, who, all well organised by my friend Yolanda, aka Mdme Florian (juas, juas) took me to my first hotel.

The cultural shock began early. The road to the hotel in Tana offered a mix of sensations and discovered a poor country recovering from the turmoil in 2009, and since without an elected head of state. The consequences, the economic impact can be seen by the naked eye. I wonder how long it will take to the country to lead a road towards recovery. The future prospects are uncertain with a growing population and a poor distribution of basic needs, beginning with nurture. Sources are not scarce, but long term planning and organisation is a growing issue.

That said, the country's biodiversity is unbelievably rich, with a unique landscape. I am very honoured to be able to see a country totally different from the ones I have visited so far.

From Antananarivo my next destination was Mahajanga. The trip stretches out around 400Km, but due to the poor road conditions it took 12 hours to reach destination.
I took a bus the next morning to Mahajanga, where I met Mdme Patricia, quite a character who has lived in Mada on and off since the 60s. She loves the country and filled me in with information about the overall state of things, the Malgasy character and other anecdotes. She is very chatty, according to her, because she wants to make sure that the drivers don't fall asleep. We travelled on a van, found different animals on the way, did wee wee stops in the bushes, had a flat tyre and witnessed a very unfortunate accident one hour away from destination, in which a  truck run over a kid who crossed the road unaware of the imminent danger.
Malgasies are laid back and careless, as I could see by how they adapt to road rules (rules?), the truck was driving on a populated area too fast, the kid crossed too carelessly... I looked in astonishment a kid running to the middle of the road, until  it stood in front of it, heard screeching brakes and was told that the kid didn't land under the tyres but got hit by the mud guard. Bless him and hope it recovers. I didn't look further, I ducked my head. We didn't stop, it was a very narrow road, the hour left continued in silence.

Abendämmerung à chez Winckler. A peaceful summer breeze sitting on the garden porch
Mahajanga is really charming, sunny and hot place. I have spent a few days at chez Winckler and got to know a few of the ex-pats that make a living in this place. Some doing research, some trying to improve the situation and others settling far from our known Western life. This is a very different world, where time and space are relative.
The view from the garden at daylight that has become my awesome Yoga spot.

I met handy Dave, an American ex-pat who is taking care of his kid while his wife is doing research. His kid has made a quick immersion in the Malgasy life, he's learnt the local language in record time and loves hanging out with Malgasies. I got to hang around with him and witnessed the beautiful cultural treasure he is receiving. A great environment to grow up.
Finding treasures on the beach

I am very happy I could borrow a car to drive around the dirt roads to Cirque Rouge beach. How can I describe the sensation I had when I arrived... A soft mountain of white and red clays, stunning colours leading to a quiet beach...

Cirque Rouge, the soft ground of pink clay
Our improvised beach boys (!)

The sense of private sphere is little known by Malgasys and soon we were spotted first by two young guys who cared little about discretion and observed our every move and three young girls who approached us to give us some clay (great minerals for the face) and stayed hoping to receive a "souvenir". I took a picture of them with my sunglasses on, but didn't have anything representative to give them.
Beach girl in Cirque Rouge, on school holidays from Tana

Clay masks are a common thing to see

Yoyo is taking great care of me, my gratitude is huge! This week I got to accompany her to run some errands and I got to visit the market. It is nice to know that food, meat and fish are being produced in a sustainable way. I don't eat meat but chicken run around free, vegetables are seasonal and fish are caught on the line.There is little variety, but the taste is indescribable.
I keep thanking God and the Universe to be so privileged, specially here, and be able to afford food.
There is little one can do regarding financial aid when there is no administration, and I admire those who give their time and their love to make a small difference day by day. 

Next stop: Noisy Be. Overnight bus trip and hoping to return by boat.
Report will follow in less than 2 weeks.

Be thankful of what you have and whatever you do, do it with love.

Remembering the lyrics of my favourite psychodelic children film "Puffnstuff" from the "living Island" lyrics:
Alive on living island (...)

Alive and giving living love
The love on which your heart depends

....And we've been dreaming of

04 de setembre 2012

motion healthiness

Motion healthiness. A word like that must have been coined. It describes my state some times.It is the sudden feeling of improved health, of liveliness when set in motion.
I feel sometimes like those old fashion watches you wrung when shaking your wrist. Rock me!

So, with 3 hours of wait for my next trip (sweeet and yaaay!) I couldn't help pulling my laptop to immortalise in words and a few images the last stage of the extended Malay visit.

Thank you Aenie again for letting me be your PA, appendix or Western sister these days. I'd be so honoured to return the favour whenever you have time to escape to OZ, or if we coincide some day in Amsterdam, or maybe even in Barcelona. I have been able to try all delicacies from all Asian corners, you have given me the joy of being able to eat lovely spicy food and I was pleased to share addiction to bubble tea with you.

I loved mum's meals...  Above a snapshot of the Wong sisters

 One of the best meals I have ever had!

Back at the airport I am alternating between the cold airco in the departures hall to the warmth outside. Somehow the view of the control tower in this subtle breeze makes my mind escape to nice memories, but more than that, makes me enjoy my now, the moment and reminds me of how lucky I am.

I am waiting to some of the Perhentian pictures to come my way.
The islands were a fantastic getaway  and allow you to experience them whatever way you please. You can watch them underwater, hike, be a beach bum or a party animal, or all at once.

Thanks to the Perhentian, a small enclave, we got to know each other better. I caught up with two friends from Barcelona Cristobal and Oriol. Ah, it was long overdue, so glad we shared so many moments!
Cristobal and I know each other from the uni days back in Barcelona, but were no more than very compatible indirect friends. Now the friendship has come closer, more direct, has strengthen the ties of the Barcelona connection and overall I can say, we have learnt from each other and got a very positive exchange out of that. Which is a very cool thing.

I have been running, swimming and yoga-ing every morning and I thank Oriol and his hyperactivity for waking me up each morning, eager and energetic.

Also thank you so much for giving my stamina something to do. I have a lot there and it loved to make you my partner in crime to jump out of 10 meter high towers, kayak through impossible tides, chase rats and other jaimitadas.Thank you for all that motion!

My friend Tony accompanied me to the train. Something very particular about him is that he has a special talent to sense energies. Thank you for being so generous and kind.

On my way to the airport,some strangers stroke predictable small chats with me. One question you get to be asked (after nationality) if you are being seen on your own is: are you alone?

With a wide smile, my favourite answer is: I am NEVER alone.