16 September 2007

White guy hiking town to town in rural Madagascar

[9/16/07 IMORONA, Madagascar. Dear Christian, I was reminded of our biking trip in the Appalachian Mountains yesterday. I walked a few hours down dirt road through the jungle and rice fields to get to this town, Mananara, on Madagascar’s east coast. Let me assure you that a white dude hiking alone with a massive pack is way more shocking to onlookers in Madagascar than we were – in spandex – to Appalachian people in Virginia and North Carolina. Kids saw me coming first. Some rushed to tell their parents of my arrival. “White person! White person!” Some said it with excitement, others with fear, running back into a bamboo home with arms flailing overhead. One kid ran out to the road, pointed at me, then screamed at the top of his lungs and spun around in circles. Then pointed again. He was excited, like I was Oprah or something. Although I guess she would stand out less. I tried to always flash a smile, no matter how I was received in these villages. I offered up a few Malagasy greetings (“any news in your family?”) Usually more shrieks followed. People here are way more excitable than they are back home. Commonplace stuff causes quite a stir. The animals play along with the game, too. Every morning, the rainforest shrieks with delight when the sun starts coming up. I imagine the frogs, birds and chameleons as cartoons, yelling “Oh my God, the sun, the sun!! Hurry, hurry, wake up. It’s the sun! It’s back!!” Hopefully I can bring some of that enthusiasm back to the states with me. This was all going through my head while I trudged down the hot and muddy road, thinking in my head “Just keep walking, just keep walking.” Like Dorey, the inquisitive but confused fish on Finding Nemo. –SUTTER]

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