The first thing I must remember, is that’s it’s day one. On the 24h long journey to get to Antananarivo, Madagascar’s capital (Tana for short, you’re welcome), I had all the classic thoughts: “What am I doing?”, “Why am I crossing London in the freezing dead of night?”, “Why don’t I just stay right here where I know people.” Then the stress of almost missing both flights got a bit much, but at least that helped me to pass out on the plane once I made it.
Having been backpacking on my own before, I know already that the first few days are the hardest. You don’t know anything, you don’t have a clue where you are and you are placing your trust in a lot of people you have never met before. But any worries I have now will be gone before I know it.
When I arrived in the middle of the night, my taxi was there as expected, and kindly waited while I changed my money and bought a SIM card. At the hostel Madagascar Underground (the only one in the country it seems) the bed was comfortable and the dorm was quiet, with a few girls asleep already. Lovely stuff.
I woke up on day one, very excited to be there. I’d slept in after arriving so late and wanted to sleep more, but I leaned behind me to reach the curtain, to at least get a glimpse of the country for now. I regretted it immediately. A spider the size of a kitten (I’m hoping comparing it to something I like will help my feelings towards the spider, not taint kittens instead), was hanging in the middle of the plants outside. The lushes green travellers trees looked incredible, and were exactly what I came for, but I had closed the curtain again before I had a chance to take them in. I really needed more sleep, but I was struggling now knowing what was so close to my head (and yes I know there was a window between me and my new 8 legged friend, but I made sure there were no gaps in my mosquito net for extra safety). Not to be dramatic but I wondered if I was being tested, could I really do it on my own again? I now felt like I was being watched. Eight eyes is toooooooo many. So I called her Betty. Bettys aren’t threatening, they don’t taunt you. They are kind and giggly. I managed to go back to sleep, but Betty was in my dreams.
When I woke up again I was a bit more jumpy now I’d met Betty. But it was time to get out and have a proper look around. Surely they won’t just be hanging in the street as well? Thankfully no. And I’m already loving everything on this big island, five thousand miles away from the one I call home. In less than half an hour I’ve already seen palm trees taller than apparement blocs, people carrying baskets on there heads, and kids singing in the street that Simon Cowell would sign on the spot. I can’t wait for more.
I decided that maybe the best tactic with Betty was to look at her rather than pretend she wasn’t there, I may as well get used to it if this is the price to pay for the beauty of the rainforests. Unfortunately by looking out the window longer, I learnt that Betty had two friends (now named Joanne and Herald). I am pleased to say that for the rest of my stay in the hostel, I never saw any of them move, so we remained on good terms.