Return to Madagascar – The tale continues (spoiler alert: it involves Air Madagascar)

Returning to Madagascar is exciting and triggers mixed feelings. In a way, it’s a coming home. Familiar sights, streets, tastes, scents. Still overwhelming but you come prepared and know how to embrace the colorful mess. At the same time, one is not spared the small shock neither. Humans have this great ability to simply fade out the more difficult moments – one tends to look back with fondness and fascination. A return also comes with the faint reminder: ‘Ah yes, I forgot, that’s how it was…’

Five hours, one blackout and a raided buffet later

We have covered this topic before – still it amuses and amazes all over again. Reunions in Madagascar follow protocol and are known to take a while. But this one definitely broke all records. We started at 9am. By 10.30am, the 50 participants finished introducing themselves and the official welcomes were taken care of. Because of diverging levels of know-how regarding the project, the representative of Madagascar National Parks (MNP) delivered a basic introduction to the idea and objectives of Pêche Côtière Durable. By the end of that everyone was tired and hungry. That is when the actual part started (the main reason for gathering): my presentation of the study results, taking 45 minutes. This length was more than doubled – because every sentence was translated to Malagasy. We ended after 1.30pm – hallelujah – to the promise of a lunch buffet awaiting. I never got to experience that, because by the time I closed and packed up my laptop the banquet was raided (definitely a global phenomenon and not a Malagasy problem) – but I’m sure it was delicious.

Despite the stamina required that morning, it was all worth it and once again a great and interesting experience. WECONNEX had the chance to present the results of the study delivered to the WWF to all stakeholders and, most importantly, to those most directly affected: the villagers of the rural fishing communities. We got to discuss their questions and concerns, and, to our satisfaction, experience their full-hearted support and desire for the project to be implemented – a motivating moment.

A revealing round of drinks

The survival of the extensive meeting allowed for a rewarding beer in the evening. We joined a happy round of WWF, Blue Ventures, MIHARI and MNP people and cherished the chance to chat in a relaxed atmosphere – content knowing that we had no major program until tomorrow afternoon when our flight was supposed to leave to Antananarivo (Tana).

A casual remark by Frida from MNP destroyed this happy illusion: Air Madagascar decided to leave 6 hours earlier than scheduled. I mean, why not. And I mean, no need to inform us. No problem, there is another flight in two days. Aware of the (absolutely plausible) Air Madagascar rules of having to be at the airport (one tiny building, one flight every two days) 2 hours before take-off, our night to celebrate the successful reunion (or, rather our sleep) was cut short. Thank you, Air Madagascar.

You must be getting tired of my Air Madagascar stories. So are their passengers (including me). That is why they wisely changed their name to Tsaradia – which translates to A beautiful journey or Have a good trip. Great marketing move, doesn’t really address the root cause of the problem. Either way, look out for some Tsaradia stories in the next blogpost.

Apart from these revealing news, we had a fun night, enjoyed a beer, zebu skewers, fish samosas and a good laugh: Malagasy people often take German during high school. One WWF representative proudly shared with us the one word he remembered from his classes: “Umgangsprachlich” (E: colloquial). Definitely a commonly used phrase worthwile to remember.

Morondava, we will be back

Our trip this time was only a short visit – but, we hope to be back. Mainly because Lars only got to see the Baobab Allée by night. The sun was already gone when we arrived and even though these trees are also impressive after sunset, it’s worth returning to see them in the daylight.
And, also a little bit because continuing this collaboration between WWF, WECONNEX and the other project partners to turn this business plan into reality promises potential and interesting synergies.

Having finished the reports for the WWF, implementing partner of the project Pêche Côtière Durable, it was great to be invited to present the results of the market analysis, feasibility study and business plan to stakeholders and decision-makers. Most importantly, we used the chance to discuss next steps regarding implementation – with the big goal to become the partner for the next phase of construction and operation and lead the project to success.

And so, we returned home – with more memories, cool drone footage, some mosquito bites, fresh vanilla and Malagasy rum in our luggage.

The town of Morondava

Look at all those Baobabs

Baobab Allee at sunset

Aerial view of Morondava beach

Such majestic beauty

Good night, Baobab Allee

Main street Morondava

Market scene Morondava

Source: nexus ch

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