Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Toliara revisited

On Sunday, 30 March we left Andava after an early breakfast. All the staff came to see us off and the goodbye was a sad one, with several of us crying a bit. I wasn’t entirely sure if Im saying “goodbye” or saying “see you later”, but I guess it has to be the latter as I have a really big desire to come back. Several people told us that we were an exceptionally good group and this is how it felt to us as well.

Somehow the journey through the spiny forest, the coastal sand dunes and the other fishing villages back to Toliara seemed faster than the way out six weeks ago. The city also felt different: the lack of sand and the absence of goats around me reminded me that we are back in “civilisation” (how awful this sounds!), and Toliara seemed like a megapolis after Andava. I felt disoriented because I was no longer connected to the natural elements as before.

Suddenly, I could speak French and people understood me, we could eat whatever we wanted (wow, the first dinner- zebu burger, pizza and ice-cream- was ABSOLUTELY FANTASTIC! We could barely walk home afterwards...). I had to revise my judgement of Toliara, my first impressions were wrong. It is a very lively city, the streets are animated by hundreds of colourful pousse-pousse and there are dozens of great restaurants (many of them tried and tested by now!).

We spent the first “free” morning visiting the Antsokay Arboretum, enjoying its pool and testing its restaurant (approved!), and just relaxed at our hotel in the afternoon. It was a strange feeling not to have a schedule and just do as we like until dinner. The next group of volunteers arrived in the meantime, we had dinner with them and some of us went out in the Toliara night to party for one last time.

The next morning my closest buddies, with whom I’ve done the overland tour, left to drive back to Tana and I found myself alone after 7 weeks of constant interaction. It wasn’t easy and I spent the rest of the morning in my room, in my pyjamas, looking at pictures from Andava and texting the four of them. I wasn’t looking forward to flying back home on my own, but it allowed me to have a quiet moment (or rather a quiet 20 hours) and start processing the magical two months behind me.

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