Friday, October 4, 2013

Frequently Asked Friday: One Destination?

Our next question was intriguing, and we knew the answer immediately, but the explanation took more thought.

“If someone could only go to one place ever, where from your travels would you send them?”

As we said, the answer was easy, and it was the same for both of us: 

Madagascar. 
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Why Madagascar?  Because it has stunning, amazing, “you’ll see this nowhere else on the planet” wildlife*.
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Because it has some of the strangest trees you’ll ever see.
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Because its gorgeous and diverse landscapes will take your breath away. 
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Because its people are beautiful, friendly, and generous. While the people in Madagascar are some of the poorest people we encountered in our year in the world, they were also some of the happiest. 
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And we also want you to go because it is a third world country as well as in spite of the fact that it is a third world country.  Why would we want to send you to a third world country?  Because travel should be about experiencing all sorts of things that are different than your personal experience.  And believe us, this place is full of those experiences.
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It isn’t always an easy place to travel in.  The roads are mostly in bad repair, and those that aren’t are very busy and one lane each direction. The best way to get around is to fly to various regions, and hire a local car and driver. Locals take something called a taxi-brusse, which translates into bush taxi.  It’s slow and uncomfortable, usually something like a small wagon or a pick-up truck with bench seats in the back, and stuffed to the gills with people, livestock, and parcels.   As more people board, the parcels, and then the livestock get strapped to the roof.  Often, your destination would be more than one day’s drive, and you’d need to find a room for the night, and then squeeze your way back on the taxi the next morning.
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The food was largely not great, but not terrible either—as we mentioned in this post.  The local diet consists mostly of rice with a small portion of some stewed meat: zebu(a type of cattle), pig or chicken. We met other travellers who became vegetarian just for the length of their stay in Madagascar; while we found some tough meat, none of it was objectionable.  Generally the tourists there are French (it was a French colony until 1960) so you will find lots of steak with fries,  and breakfast is almost always baguette and butter with jam (the bread is generally quite good).
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And while it isn’t an easy place, it’s an adventure.  It will change you for the better. You will come home grateful for what you have, and hopefully inspired to change some things for the better.  And if you’re only going to get one shot at having your eyes opened to what 2/3 of the rest of the world lives through on a daily basis, then we want to make damned sure that you love it, despite the hardships. And Madagascar will deliver on that, and then some.
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We haven’t talked much about Madagascar, other than this photo post and the video of the food, but there is so much to tell you about. We’ll be talking about it more in depth in our upcoming posts. So if you’re still not convinced, just stay tuned, because we’re just getting started about Madagascar.

* The magnificent Indri Indri, is just one example; it has never lived more than a year in captivity, and has never bred in captivity.