Monday, June 30, 2014

Ranomafana


the world we don't know

i have been in madagascar for almost a month now and i think that i have experienced just about every emotion that is possible for a human being to feel.  there are times when i am so overwhelmed by the beauty of the nature around me and other times when i'm lost for words to describe the conditions of which people around me are living in.  there is poverty all around and it is often very difficult to cope.  when i was growing up i lived in a suburb of metro detroit and i always assumed that this is actually how most of the world is.  foolishly of course i thought that in every corner of the world were middle class families with middle class problems and i always thought that we were all born under the same basic principles of life.  after traveling for so many years i have learned that the world is not at all like the world i once called home and actually most of the world sadly is like the one which i am traveling through today.  it is hard sometimes to deal with and i don't even know what i believe anymore about people and the  world we live in and at times i am quite the pessimist.

sometimes it is a nice treat to get to a nearby village and stop by a hotel or internet cafe for a few hours before going back to the jungle.  it kind of makes me appreciate it more to be in nature actually, often times these places are rough.  there is an irony in things here that i did not see coming in that everybody automatically assumes i'm french and it takes with it all of the preconcieved ideas about the french that come with madagascar.  sometimes people walk by and very sarcastically bark to me 'bonjour' or '├ža va' and while usually it is friendly you can understand that at times it is not.  they look at me and see a colonist or a privileged white european which perhaps i am.  why it is that white people have enjoyed some ten thousand years of undeserved prosperity is beyond me yet it is a true movement of humility to be in africa.  i write this slowly as i have never in eight years of this blog touched on racism but i do truly feel like a black person must have felt in the late fifties in parts of my own country.  people shout at me sometimes and sometimes they are really really cool but more often than not they bark this word 'vazah' which is a very racially charged word towards white people.  i'm sad about it.  i catch myself walking around sometimes at night with my hood up and my sleeves down to conceal my skin color in the crowds of people and i cannot tell you enough how i wish this sensation to be felt by all white people at least once in their lives.  what have we done to this world to become so seperated?  do i deserve this?  i have never been one of those who participate in the jokes about black people or the sentiments of racism towards anybody. 

as you read this know that i am of course well and happy, at least when i'm in nature where i usually reside about 90 percent of this voyage.  the people are much cooler and they see us all as equal.  our differences are brought with smiles and shy giggle whereas in the city there is no doubt the existence of a sting brought deeply and painfully by the people of my race for some 400 years.  god damn did we fuck up the world.  i hope you feel it too and know that your middle class life was built by the years of abuse to your brother man, there i said it. 

that is the last i will write like this in my blog, for i am a traveler and a learner and an overall well-wisher to the world i live in.  on a happy note i've been spending some great quality time with a species of animal that has come to be perhaps my favorite breathing creature on the planet.  this is of course the lemur and all of her many varieties i have come across. 

i set up camp in a beautiful spot by a waterfall and paid a local hotel to let me lock my personal belongings in a safe with a key so i could wander freely about the jungle.  at the moment the cafe which i write in this blog does not support my photos but i will journey about town for a few more hours and with some luck i will find another place later today that can handle them.  i have met some incredible people here and that sounds not only cliche however similar to every post i've written from every country.  perhaps that is because there are truly incredible people still existing in the world.  i will get some phone calls and emails about what i have written in previous paragraphs but i hope it is known that i have not wandered the world in vain, i have indeed found the hope i so earnestly set out to find and it came in the form of late night candle light conversation and cold beers with a new malagasy friend of mine who shared his birthday celebration last night in front of a television playing mexico vs netherlands.  i taught him to love mexico and he was sold when he saw the beauty of the red white and green face painted women in the audience.  it took me the better part of a half hour to explain where i come from.  i am a mix-european white american living in turkey traveling in madagascar, try explaining that in french.. although i'm pretty sure i heard him tell his friend that he met his first mexican friend today. 

i love you.  i just love you and you and all of you.  all people of the world and all the animals and plants and ideas and rain drops and stones and fish and all of you.  maybe i've seen too much.  sometimes i think that some of you haven't seen enough.  if you're not upset than you aren't paying attention.. true but if you're not shaking the person next to you and showering them with love than the same is also true, you're not paying attention

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Andasibe

 




























Moramanga

i think one of the best travel decisions ive ever made was to cover much of my visible body with bold tattoos and walk around with a sleeveless shirt bearing the colors of rastafarianism.  sorry for being so blunt but in africa one must face the fact that he is white and there is no possible way he could blend in with the locals.  it doesnt matter where you go but when you are alone you stand out and it is nice to bring with you a sense of uniqueness.  if im going to be a stranger then i choose to be a strange stranger.  nobody really messes with the tattooed guy.  sometimes you catch people staring at your arm and after they make eye contact you offer a wink and suddenly you are accepted in a very simple way.  sometimes the tougher of street people offer a folded fist to the sky and shout to me 'rastafari!' or 'jah!' with a large toothy smile like somehow im one of the people who have come to understand africa and im not just a tourist who comes to steal souls through photography and senseless bartering.  just an observation.

what a lucky turn of events this early morning.  i took a small local shared taxi outside of my jungle encampment and wandered to the nearby village of Moramanga to find that i have arrived on independence day of madagaskar.  the streets are alive and colorful with parades of children and painted faces.  there is loud hip hop and raggae music mixing in the street with the sounds of siga (a type of raggatone originating in madagaskar).  its early morning but i found a cheap hotel with the boasting of a hot shower.  ive heard many such boasts and im yet skeptical however today might finally be the day i wash my nasty hair.  simple pleasures that are taken for granted otherwise.

Andasibe was a blessing yet the photos will have to wait, i doubt this tiny internet connection could handle my photos and i want to take the time to sift through the beautiful lemurs ive chanced upon.  these little furry mammals are absolutely stunning.  they seem to take no notice to the humans below and they carry on their businesses as if they were not being watched.  they are magical even when you cannot see them as their hautingly beautiful calls can be heard from far away and they live up to their name which originally meant 'ghost'.  one could imagine what the people thought before they actually saw the lemur and only heard their ghastly calls in the night.

the dreams i have here are otherworldly (perhaps brought on by the doxycycline for malaria prevention).  so i dont forget i would like to make a short list of some of the stranger ones ive had lately.

-being the leader of a japanese villager revolution
-waking up in my parents basement with a shark on my computer screen
-a hippy girl spitting LSD in my mouth and forcing me to buy her bracelets
-demons and ghosts... lots of those.. not scary though for some reason
-a girl giving birth through her foot (this dream wasnt mine but i heard it from a friend)
-a massive fist fight at oakland mall
-perhaps the strangest of all are the dreams where i can't quite wake up.. i know that im dreaming and as i come to conciousness i suddenly realiwe that im actually in another dream.  this happes about 6 times in a row on average every night and as i finally come to for real i question everything all the way up until im eating breakfast and drinking coffee.  the caffine seems to pull my senses together

as im unable to upload photos from my camera at this point ive taken to stealing pictures of Moramanga from the internet.  no worries.









the story continues from here.  ill be back in the jungle soon to explore more of the beauty ive come to find.  yesterday i encountered four species of lemur each equally mysterious and beautiful.  as i conclude this entry i hear the music of the streets turn to hard drumming and people calling off loud songs of celebration.  i dont think i mind spending the night here before returning to the nothingness of things.

Monday, June 23, 2014

the nothingness of things

perhaps the most amazing and terrifying feeling out here is the extreme aloneness.  i call it not loneliness because that would equate sadness however there is this overwhelming sensation that i could vanish in any direction and the world would have no idea where i am.  i can see that sentiment in the eyes of those who have washed ashore in madagaskar and found themselves a permanent residence here yet i know that my wanderings are only temporary and because of this i take with me that aloneness and search deep inside for happiness in the small things all around: the birds chirping, the random heavy rains.

yesterday i shifted direction and faced my compass towards a new destination to the southeast.  i was confronted with more than i was equipped for in the north and i have many corners of this strange island to explore.  i write this from a cafe in Tamatave, a city i have come to hate, and moments after i publish this post i will be bound again for the jungle to the west.  ive located a place where i can set up camp and gather supplies for the next period of time and truly im looking forward to the myriads of animals which call out in the night however ive not yet seen.  this city makes one edgy and you are forced to carry a mean face, something i was not born with.  in the 12 hours since ive come here ive been surrounded by shifty eyes and prostitutes carrying poison of many kinds.  this pulls me to my hotel balcony alone with two warm beers and an old samsung playing cumbia as i jot in my journal my plan to escape from 'civilisation'. 

i have met some of the friendliest smiles and warmest laughs in the last two weeks when i was stranded in Mahambo and i know now that it has served its purpose in the ways of the universe as now i am equipped with enough knowledge of this island to survive the next bit of my journey.  it is time to be alone for a while and spend some energy searching for the animals which exist only here and nowhere else in the world.  by the time this post has reached the time zone of my friends back in USA i will be deep in jungle with knife and tent.  im healthy and happy and my heart carries the love of all those who have blessed my life.  see you soon my friends.

my temporary home in Mahambo



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antonio!!!


romeo



one last sacrifice to the gods



charles