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The Halfway Point

It began with a pus-pus ride, as many trips in Madagascar do. No, it started earlier when Micah gave us a group dinner stipend for our last night in Antsirabe before Morondava. Or maybe it was the wish for something familiar, a small piece of home, as the curtains drew to a close on the first half of our time on the Island of Diversity.

Having finished the mid-course evaluation 4 hours earlier, I found myself spending the afternoon playing cards and getting some much needed rest. As the clock ticked closer to meeting time, Hunter, Gabe, and I headed towards the meeting location. We had started another game of cards when Micah, stepping back in from the balcony, ordered us outside to start check in (we had to wait for others anyway). After the check-in completed, we were given our dinner stipends (20,000 Ariary per person) and divided ourselves into two dinner groups. The first group set out for pizza while Becky, Nica, Soleil, and I went off to follow Micah’s off-hand suggestion of Greek cuisine. Wandering out the front gate of Lovasoa and approaching the pus-pus drivers, we realized we had no idea how to get to the restaurant. We turned back, headed to the front desk, and asked the receptionist for directions.

The city drifted by as the pus-pus sped towards our destination, or so we thought. Arriving at Green Park instead of Le Grec, Soleil, in broken French, explained that this was not the right restaurant. Ten minutes later, we arrived at a seemingly abandoned restaurant. Wandering into the back, we sat down as a Malagasy woman came out with our menus.

Becky, Nica, and Soleil proceeded to order their evening meals while I approached the kitchen window and spoke “Υπάρχει κάποιος εδώ που μιλά ελληνικά?” (Is there someone here that speaks Greek?). Waiting at the window, feeling like a fool as seven Malagasy employees looked at me like I had grown an extra head, an old man with a handle bar mustache emerged from the back. Nearing the window he responded “Ακουσα ελληνικά?” (Did I hear Greek?). The man walked out of the kitchen and waved me over to join him. I spent the next 10 minutes asking him about what led a Greek man to live in Madagascar. He spoke about working on the fishing boats off the Southern coast before retiring to open a cheese factory and a small restaurant. After concluding our short conversation and graciously declining his offer of wine for the table, I accepted his recommendation of duck for my evening meal.

Upon the conclusion of our main course, I got up and asked for the bill and our host brought out baklava for us to enjoy before we stepped into the chilly night air. Returning back to the pus-pus, we enjoyed our return until we reached Lovasoa, where we struggled to convince our drivers that a 20 minute pus-pus ride was not worth 1 million Ariary. The conflict was quickly resolved by reception and we were able to enjoy the ending to the first half of our time in Madagascar.