Packing for Madagascar

We leave today for Madagascar.

Sounds funny to say. I never expected to go to this island so far away from home, but the opportunity came up and we're thrilled.  I've never been to Africa or Asia --only Europe and to Israel as a child.  I know this will be very different.

I'm traveling with my daughter, Olivia, her friend Gabrielle and her sister Lauren, and their mother Mickie. The girls are all in high school--Olivia and Gabrielle are rising seniors. Olivia is interested in global sustainable politics and gender studies and Gabrielle hopes to go into medicine.  Lauren, a rising tenth grader, is coming a long to learn. 

We are going to the Centre Valbio in the Ramonafana National Park, the research site of Dr. Patricia Wright, a prize-winning anthropologist and primatologist, and one of the world's leading experts on lemurs.  We'll be joining a summer study abroad class from Stony Brook University, and I'll jump in to teach ecofeminism. The college students left a few weeks ago with Dr. Wright.

At the moment all I can think of is packing lists--and it's quite extensive. The forest is quite wet, so everything must be lined in plastic.  We will need so many things like Dr. Bronner's soap for washing our bodies and clothes (biodegradable and not harmful to the environment), towels, sleeping bags, rain gear from head to toe,  binoculars, waterproof watches, wide variations of clothes and shoes, and yet the airlines are so restrictive about weight. Don't bring anything you don't mind losing or getting destroyed, the instructions say.  I'm so used to packing super light, but for this trip, we'll need many supplies.

I've got a new camera with a great lens for filming wildlife. I hope it survives the humidity!

Be prepared for culture shock, the instructions say.

We're leaving the western world soon in few hours.

It's a thirty hour trip to the forest.  A stop in Paris, and then to the city of'Tana', Madagascar; a night in Tana sleeping, and then off to meet the students and Pat Wright in the forest.

I'll be writing here with updates of our trip. I will post pictures, too.

Back to packing!