I already know that my writing will fall short in this post, because today was too incredible to put into words. We visited Palmarium Park here in the Pangalanes Canal, and I’m still vibrating with joy from the entire experience.
The Madagascar Diaries
Day Eight – Palmarium Park
Oct. 21, 2016
Last night, I slept a full, solid and restful 7 hours for the first time on this trip. I don’t know if it was the exhaustion, the long day of travel yesterday, the lack of any light pollution or the peace and quiet of my canvas tent accommodations at Bush House, but it was awesome. The rest of the group stayed up late, but this granny was tired. Funnily enough, I’m actually the youngest person in our group. Anyway, I put myself to bed shortly after dinner and drifted off as soon as my head hit the pillow. I knew I wanted to get up early and go for a run.
My alarm went off just before 6 AM, and I pulled on my lightest running attire, laced up my shoes, and headed for the beach. I had no real idea of where I was going, but I just started running on the hard-packed wet sand. I ran past men tending to their boats in the shallow, crystal-clear water, and women and children walking along the buttery sand. Curiously, they smiled and said “Salama” as I waved back at them. I ran and ran and ran, a permanent smile plastered to my face, and before I knew it, 5 kilometres had flown by. The hot morning sun was beating down on my salty skin as I kicked off my shoes and dove into the lake…a moment of pure, unspoiled bliss. I never feel so much myself as when I am physically exhausted in natural solitude. It has become my favourite feeling in the world.
Soon after, our group began congregating for breakfast, so I made my way up to the restaurant for some coffee, fresh fruit, and bread with jam. We were beginning our video diaries about our experiences in the WaterAid villages that morning, and I got so caught up in my bliss that I forgot to allow time to shower or freshen up before my slot. So, if you see my video, you will understand why I look the way I do. It’s amazing how carefree you become in an environment like Bush House, though. It didn’t bother me one bit.
I had prepared a few notes for my video, but I mostly just spoke in the moment. It was easy to do, with Rami behind the camera and Darlene directing from the hammock on the porch as we gazed out over the white-sand beach in front of us. I know that in a few month’s time, this entire experience will feel surreal. It kind of already does.
After filming, it was time to head to Palmarium Park. I was so excited to see some wildlife, and we even got a little teaser last night as the sun was setting and we spotted a few lemurs leaping through the trees. Upon arrival at Palmarium, we were greeted by our guide and a handful of curious lemurs. We began our trek into the park, and the action didn’t stop. From tortoises to iguanas to giant spiders to several different varieties of lemurs, it was hard to decide where to look.
Some of the lemurs were gentle, curious, friendly and would come right up to you and jump on your shoulder. Some of them were downright mean. It depended on the breed, but luckily, between our guide and Ernest, we knew which were which. My favourite was the beautiful and gentle Sifaka, who loved being petted on the back and behind the ears. Swoon.
We made our way back to our hotel, and I’m now relaxing in the hammock overlooking the lake while the rest of the group is out Kayaking. It probably seems like I’m spending a lot of time alone, hey? Well, I am. And it’s lovely. I am taking a lot of time to read, write and reflect on this trip. So don’t feel sorry for me – I am loving all of this alone time.
I don’t know what tonight holds, but we have a very long travel day back to Antananarivo tomorrow (they say 7 hours, but in Malagasy time that usually means closer to 9 or 10! 😉 ) and then just one more day until we begin our journey home. I am still finding it hard to believe that it’s almost time to go home. I feel like I am only just getting acquainted with this beautiful, mysterious place.