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RacingThePlanet: Madagascar 2014 Blogs

I'm here!!
27-Aug-2014 06:23:10 AM [(GMT+02:00) Harare, Pretoria]

Blog August 26th Wheels up in Malawi yesterday…. feet down in Madagascar today! Wow, this is really happening! I'm a complete bundle of nerves…. thrilled to bits that this dream is coming real, and scared to death I'll fail, even if I give a thousand percent of myself. Over the last 18 months, a lot of time, money and effort has gone into preparing for this next week, and what if it's not enough? The "what if's" are filling my mind a little too much…. I think it's time for some more "positive visualization" as Coach Amanda would tell me. Anyway, I digress…. so, I'm in Antananarivo - "Tana", the capital of Madagascar - and it's lovely. Obviously poor like Malawi, but not quite as poor. The biggest contrast is that it's so CLEAN - there's an occasional plastic bag on the side of the road, but the roads are swept and the tile sidewalks outside restaurants sparkle. And where there would be a rubbish-filled stinky-water ditch in Malawi, here it's been carefully rounded out and walled to catch rain water and there are little rice paddies everywhere…. and I mean EVERYWHERE.. Amazing. They drive on the right side of the road here… and everyone approaches you speaking french…. All those years of French lessons are rushing back into my head and words I've not thought of in years are suddenly on the tip of my tongue. Not that I can possibly string them together or conjugate verbs to make a complete sentence… wow just the thought of trying brings back high school nightmares! Since I travelled via Kenya, we flew down the length of Madagascar to get here. I'll turn and fly back to the north tomorrow to Antsiranana, but that's another story. Anyhow, as we were approaching the island (mini-Continent more like), all I could see was the ocean stained red for miles and miles around the north end of the island, and all I could think was "this island is bleeding"! It's the dry season so it's not even like there's tons of rain to wash silt down the rivers and into the ocean. I don't know if it's normal for the ocean to look like that at this time of year, but the next thought in my head was "where are the trees to hold the dirt in place"? Although we were up at altitude, the sky was completely clear and it was abundantly clear that there was no forest in sight. Very sad. Okay, so maybe I'm a little like a new tourist to Africa asking where the elephants are when they arrive in Joburg….. but really, sure there should have been forest somewhere?? I kept my head glued to the airplane window most of the way down and hardly saw anything but brown…. it could have been Malawi. There must be forest somewhere in this country, but I'm starting to really understand what 95% deforestation looks like…. It's bad in Malawi, but it's exponentially worse seeing the reality in a country which is renowned for it's rain forests. Truly sad. In some ways it's worse than watching a child in pain, because at least a child can scream and cry for help. The land is literally screaming here, but maybe nobody is listening. On a brighter note… I'm stuck in Tana for 23 hours before I can head back up North…. I found a little local hotel online which is near the airport - Les Hautes Terres - it's a lovely old colonial style house with uneven creaky wooden floors and stairs… my room is enormous and old-fashioned, has kiddie-duvets on the beds, and looks out over some rice paddies - yes, I was serious when I said those rice paddies are EVERYWHERE :) I'm completely sleep-deprived since my Malawi-Kenya trip yesterday took many more hours than planned - sitting in Lilongwe airport for four extra hours wasn't Plan A…. late arrival in Nairobi and then an early departure this morning… I got to hang out with the fantastic Hersman family in Nairobi for a few hours, and sleep was definitely NOT a priority at that point as we had over a year of catching up to do… but now I'm here and I'm slowly starting to unwind. I've had a few weeks at work that have been of an intensity like nothing I've ever experienced before - it's pushed me to my breaking point, and I really struggle to get my mind to slow down and relax, even when I'm not at work… I realized just how bad it actually was on the flight here from Nairobi when I could not resist getting my laptop out of my bag and wondering what to-do lists I could possibly come up with since I didn't have any work to do (on purpose!)…. I literally started making up a meal menu and corresponding grocery shopping list for the month after I get back home, and then mentally slapped myself silly…. seriously!?! Who make menus and shopping lists that on the second day of their holiday??? I made myself watch a tv show off iTunes instead… which made me start putting together a to-do list of everything I need to put on my iPod before the race starts this weekend…Eesh… what's with me and the to-do lists today?!! Anyhow, now it's time for some lunch and a long nap. Time to slow the brain down, take a deep breath and start focusing on the reality of the upcoming race… I am excited. I am determined. I am going to finish!

Anne Ben-Smith

Posted: 29-Aug-2014 07:53:08 AM

Well said Marilyn! We will be thinking of you, and wishing you good health and stamina, and hoping that, above all, you enjoy the break, Madagascar, and the experience! Love you! XXX

Marilyn Barr

Posted: 29-Aug-2014 05:47:10 AM

Hi, Beth. It might be possible for you to excel, but it is not possible for you to fail! You have already experienced success in getting this far! God bless all the way!

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RacingThePlanet: Madagascar 2014 competitor


Lived in Malawi, Kenya, Botswana, US and UK.
Education in Public Health: Behavioral Sciences and Epidemiology

Lilongwe, Malawi

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Why are you competing?
I'm always up for a new challenge and this fits!

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