The Madagascar DiariesUncategorized

Day One & Two – The Journey

I am writing about days one and two together because, honestly, at this point, they’re just blended together into one hazy, delirious, exhausting lump. As I am writing this, actually, I am 23 hours into what I have now determined will be approximately 32 hours of travel, from the door of my house in Calgary to my bed in Antananarivo.


Right now, I am in a plane high above the Mediterranean Sea, about half an hour of fly time away from the African continent itself. I wish I had something philosophical to say, but honestly, I am so exhausted that I can hardly form complete thoughts. I think I am finally getting too old for all-nighters.

Our (mine and Zee’s) journey began yesterday, just before 8am local time, at Calgary international airport.  Once we had cleared customs and dropped off Zee’s checked bag, we had about an hour to kill before our flight to New York boarded.


The flight from YYC-JFK was the shortest of our journey, at only 4 hours.  Quick and painless.  Also quick but not-so-painless was our tight connection at JFK, but we managed, and we even had time to wolf down some pizza before we ran to our gate.

The flight to Paris departed New York just after the sun had gone down, and the 7 hour journey was made entirely in the night. I can’t sleep on planes, so I passed the time binge-watching an entire TV series, and before I knew it, the sun was rising over Paris and we had begun our final descent.

Sunrise over Paris

Once we arrived in Paris, we had to take a train to a different terminal, check back in, clear security again, and find our gate. Luckily, Charles De Gualle has their system down to a science.  It was fast and simple, and just before 9am local time, we had found the 6 other members of our study tour.

One thing that Travel continues to prove is that you make very, very fast friends on the road. As a bunch of Aveda employees, we are already pretty social people, but it took me all of 10 seconds upon meeting everyone to know that I was really, really going to enjoy the next 10 days with these people.

Our crew at the gate in Paris!

I took full advantage of my 2 hours in the Paris airport. A quick sink sponge bath and teeth brushing, a delicious breakfast at a bakery cafe, amusing myself in the tacky trinket shops and even a few blissful minutes of stretching my aching body on the airport floor, and then it was time to go.

Unfortunately, our whole team is spread out all over the plane. It was impossible to find seats together, but that’s ok. I’m way at the back of the bus – row 48. Unfortunately, my anxiety has been frustratingly persistent on this flight. I can’t seem to shake it.

By the way, we are officially in Africa now. Northeastern Africa. It is…desert. True desert. I’ve never seen anything like it in my life. Nothing but sand, everywhere you look. Sometimes I think I see a body of water, but nope. Usually it’s just the shadow of a passing cloud.

Catching my first glimpse of Africa

I still have absolutely no idea what to expect when we arrive in Antananarivo. All I know is that it’ll likely be 2am by the time we get to our hotel tonight. And, if I’m being completely honest, I can’t think about ANYTHING else right now other than sleep. I’m sure my head will be more clear tomorrow.
Update: We have all arrived safely at our hotel in Madagascar. I am deliriously posting this completely cross-eyed as I am now on hour 38 without sleep. Can’t wait to share what we experience tomorrow!

Ashley Dempster is a twenty-something Canadian Travel and Adventure blogger based in Calgary, Canada. Her passions include good food, minimalist packing, running, music, and chasing down every opportunity for adventure.

1 Comment

  1. Hi Ashley!
    I am thinking of you! Enjoy every second Remarkable One! I will live through you and your adventures! Be safe and live in each moment!
    Sarah…Oakville, On

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