MADAGASCAR? YOU GOTTA BE KIDDING!
“You could end up dying in a far out place like that”, my friend told me as we were packing for a trip to Africa. “No hospitals, no doctors for miles around”, he went on, “Dry leaves instead of soft bathroom tissue! Disease, lions, terrorists. What are you thinking of?”
We were thinking of a new place and a change of scenery. My wife began it all by suggesting “Since we’ve been to Europe and Asia, how about seeing the baobab trees and the lemur monkeys in Madagascar?”
She posed it as a question but there’s always more to it. She’d been up late nights studying travel sites, gathering brochures and investigating hotel room layouts. She gets me to thinking my own questions:
“What kind of budget busting waste of our time is this? Baobab trees? We don’t need to fly 8,000 miles just to see some monkeys? Where is Madagascar anyway?” I’m against the idea before I even see the brochures fine print. They’re in microscopic type at the end of glossy color photos of adorable lemurs and sunshine beaches, the Madagascar tour operator offhandedly notes:
“You will be required to make a 7-hour hike into Tsingy Park“.
A death march thousands of miles from medical care. There’s something every senior wants on his vacation. Why can’t Disney World come up with attractions like that? With trembling, I read even smaller print containing words like “… climbing up rope ladders, rope bridges, leaning out over sharp rock ledges..”
Hanging out over jagged cliffs on swinging rope ladders? What more could we ask for on vacation? Survive that kind of abuse and what will we do for an encore? Bullfighting, bungee jumping, or maybe a trans Pacific swim in the winter?
I tell my wife, ” People will think that we’ve lost our few remaining marbles. “Fruitcakes” they will call us. We gotta cancel this expedition now while there’s still time. How about a vacation in some place where normal people go: Albany or Toronto?”
We shouldn’t be thinking about East Africa! But we do. After some arguments and several sleepless nights, we finally conclude that yes Albany is a mighty fine town, but we’ve been there. The bathroom facilities were excellent, but for adventure travel, it doesn’t work for us. What does work?
A.) During decades of marriage, we’ve visited many distant lands and came back mostly intact, basically healthy and happy for the experience.
B.) More important, we have already given up too much: Our careers, good looks, skiing, and being the center of gravity for our kids. We can’t afford to relinquish any more dreams without a fight. One day we will hang up the backpacks and travel boots. There are storms we cannot weather and pleasures that are no longer worth fighting for. But exotic travel, for us today, is worth a fight.
C.) Finally, if we don’t make it back safely, then we will be checking out during one of life’s grand adventures: Not the worst way to go. More life in our years beats more years. That choice comes with less security. The alternative? Are we become afraid of getting out of bed less we fall down? That choice sounds like living a vegetative life. “Move over you other veggies, we’re moving into the hospital’s cabbage patch ward”.
I’d rather be eaten by a lion on safari.
So we’re off to East Africa confident that it’s a step in the right direction.
P.S. We did make it to the airport, to Madagascar, Tsingy Park and up the ladders. Dangerous/audacious? Nothing worth mentioning but the lemurs were cute.