Theme: My Offshore Lifestyle Country: Republic of Madagascar Language: French & Malagasy Unit of Currency: Malagasy ariary Location: Antananarivo, Ifaty, & ToliaraYear: 2012 Bucket list: Photographing lemurs, more specifically Ring-tailed lemurs and baobab tree species
DO: EXPLORE IFATY’S NATURE
Hiring a tour guide and exploring the wildlife of Madagascar’s forests
Spending the day on the beach with the locals
DO: VISIT THE SCHOOL OF MUSIC AND ARBORETUM D’ANTSOKAY
Listening to kids from all different backgrounds come together and play musical instruments
Learning about Madagascar’s most invasive species that withstand its hot climate throughout the months
The Best of Arboretum d’Antsokay:
While trekking the Arboretum d’Antsokay 15km outside of Toliara, Madagascar I realized that I was alone and found myself deep within the Malagasies brush, complete with toxic plants, tree limbs that resembled Tree Pythons and reptiles that there were larger than my foot. Did I mention that snakes, specifically the “Do” was known to linger around these forests? When spoken of such creatures, “Yes” was echoed back to me when I inquired if this particular species was worse than the Boa Constrictor. One of the tribe members stood up and faced in my direction and whispered, “Please be careful and watch the paths. From what I gathered in their French language, was that this type of snake blends well into the background and within its plant surroundings.
Once I explored the Arboretum solo for a little while, I remember thinking, “There are snakes and toxic plants within this site. What the fluke (better to say than the *F bomb) am I doing walking around alone?!?”
Needless to say, I am still attempting to snap out of this vampire routine (1800-0600) that I have had for the past 6 weeks on the Chinese boat! Today was definitely a wake-up call!
For now, time to enjoy the awesome daylight that Madagascar has brought me during my travels! The coolest facts about the Arboretum d’Antsokay are that there are over 900+ species of plants and trees! Good thing I studied Dendrology and kept awake for that portion of the class! And my personal favorite, critically endangered tortoises are kept here to avoid further distinction in the region.
For other news, it reached 94 degrees Fahrenheit (34 degrees Celsius for you Brits) today and will continue to embrace me with its humidity until I depart Madagascar and head to the US. Reminds me of Miami’s heat waves!
The time has come for me to leave this beautiful country and move on with my next travel adventures (US Mid-west roadtrip). I will never forget the incredible mates that I have been introduced to, the uniqueness of the plants, animals, and trees that continue to flourish only in Madagascar, the sweet local children rushing to give me a high-five with their recent milk mustache still placed on their face from their morning breakfast, and most importantly a culture that had accepted me and helped brush up my French, while teaching a little Malagasy during my time here.
While exploring southern Madagascar I was quite humbled to witness how amazing the locals that live in cities and those that stay within their tribes truly are. Blessed with what resources they have, not only do they use the resources on their own lands, but they return the appreciation and create more resources to continually exist in this remote part of the world.
Maybe I am on an “Earth Day” high, but I believe we could really learn for the Malagasies and their culture. It has been a great experience and I definitely will be back to continue my voyage to seek all of Madagascar’s lemurs! Since I stumbled upon one species, I cannot wait to discover more!
On to today’s highlights, Ifaty’s la plage (beach) was absolutely wonderful and quite refreshing! This is MUCH needed after the trek around the African brush (round 2!) and through the countless swarms of mosquitoes around the 7 different species of baobab trees located within the nature reserve. In addition to the reserve, I absorbed a great deal of information about the Ring-tailed Lemur and the rehabiliation program (where they place these captive animals back into the wild). The day would not have been completed with the usual signature jumpin’ photographs, but will have to post these at a later date!
And to end the evening, watched a traditional African mini-concert at the School of Music & Art and had a few pints and pizza with my newfound found Spanish mates! All and all, a very productive day!
Next stop: After 4 flights between the 24th & 25th I will be back in the U-S-A!
Happy Earth Day:
It is incredible to reflect on how beautiful this Earth really is. Within the hearts of the people that persist to conserve our natural environment and help maintain the beauty and grace that has laid upon our Earth in the form of animals’ footprints (big to small), trees, and plant life, it is important to remind ourselves to thank each and every one of them for giving us the opportunity to continually embrace all of God’s magnificent creations.
From the invasive trees that grow in Madagascar’s humidity (and with plantings of trees each year), to the whales that migrate hundreds of miles to breed and calve annually (avoiding rubbish in the water along their journeys), amongst buried creatures within the depths of the oceans where these particular species have not yet been discovered (removal of plastic), and on the highest mountains of Kilimanjaro and Fiji (more plants continually evolve biannually) , these all are reminders of how precious the world is and how the littlest action (recycling/planting new trees & plants) can aid in a species existence. As I have learned at a very young age, it only takes one person to make a difference!
With these differences we can and will continue to not only make this world a safer place for all inhabitants that thrive upon the resources that we sustain, but also we create a better environment for our future.
When I first was introduced to Earth Day at 5 years old, I was intrigued to research and conserve our natural surroundings (from the sea to the ground). Within my research of Humpback whales in Zanzibar, Tanzania, and my further conservation strategies that are introduced to Oil & Gas clients (such as Shell, Chevron, & ExxonMobil) it soothes me to know that there are many others out there like myself that are doing their part and helping to reserve the world’s most precious gifts of all.
Between my travel adventures around the world and the international opportunities that are placed before me, I only desire to join others in this movement to fully sustain our environment and learn a deeper apprecation for what our eyes gaze upon. After all, you only have one world, so treat it with respect!
Earth Day project that was created during my days at Penn State! And yes, it has a Marine theme!
Theme: Humpback Whale Research Project Country: Tanzania Language: English & Swahili Unit of Currency: Tanzanian shilling Location: Dar es Salaam & Zanzibar Year: 2011, 2012, & 2014 Bucket list: Photographing the Red Colobus Monkeys of Jozani Chwaka Bay National Park
DO: INDULGE ALL 5 SENSES IN ZANZIBAR
Exploring the coastal village
Hanging out with good mates that I have met during my travels
Humpback Whale Research Project:
Having the ultimate experience – learning Swahili, living in a village, and researching Humpback whales
Theme: Kenyan Wildlife Experience Country: Kenya Language: English & Swahili Unit of Currency: Kenyan shilling Location: Diani Beach, East Tsavo National Park, Mombasa, Shimoni, & Wasini Island Year: 2011 Bucket list: Scoping out the wildlife on East Africa’s coast & Venturing into the Shimoni Slave Cave
DO: CHILL OUT AND HAVE A BEACH WEEKEND
Taking a much needed beach weekend
DO: STAY SOMEPLACE WHERE ELEPHANTS ROAM YOUR BACKYARD
East Tsavo National Park:
Hiring a safari driver for the day
DO: EXPLORE MOMBASA
Venturing around downtown and visiting Fort Jesus
DO: LEARN ABOUT THE SLAVE TRADE
Experiencing the emotional and physical darkness of the Shimoni Slave Caves
DO: DIVE WITH BOTTLENOSE DOLPHINS
Diving underwater and encountering a Bottlenose dolphin mother and calf pair