I wake up in the urban chaos of Johannesburg, and fall asleep in a secluded Madagascar island – no electricity, no light, no walls or even doors. The adjustment is quite hard for me. The first thing I notice about Madagascar is the heat- a wet heat that covers you in seconds, as if someone sprayed you with mist. I feel the humidity immediately and start peeling off layers before I even get from the plane into to the airport. I wait in about 5 lines, get stamps, signatures, my bag searched, then hop in a taxi which takes me to a small boat that takes me to my island home. I go rock climbing with my suitcase (backpack only next time) and settle into an island bungalow.

Madagascar is kind of like paradise- a sweaty hot dream made up of forest islands, hills, reptiles, clear blue sky, perfect beaches, enormous rocks, and white sand. The landscape is gorgeous, the people are gorgeous, it’s surreal being here. Perhaps I’m not great with transition, for it takes me some time to adjust. My mind does not match the perfect serenity of the nature around me. I am restless on this remote island, wanting things that don’t exist here to bring me comfort and district my ceaseless thoughts.

The stars always center me, reminding me how big the world is and how small I am. I look up at the twinkling stars, the dark grey night that covers the forest and hovers over the ocean. I have so many unanswered questions, decisions to make without the clarity to decide. I ask the stars and accept that I don’t know. I don’t have the answers and that’s alright. I’ll know when it’s time and I try to convince my mind that it doesn’t need to figure it out right now. I toss and turn in my mosquito net, in the sticky night, listening to the hum of the forest.

It’s not until I hike through the forest that I fall in love with this place. I crawl, jump, and climb over huge boulders by the Indian ocean, climbing the hills into the deep wilderness of Nosy Be. Lizards dodge my clumsy steps as I manoeuver around mud puddles and plunge deeper into the jungle. I’m covered with sweat and grateful for the calm, balmy waters of the Indian ocean as I emerge from my hike onto a remote beach. Children suddenly appear and run into the ocean, splashing, grinning, and greeting me in a language I don’t understand. I begin to relax as I lay on a rock, letting the sun warm me inside and out. My decisions are not as big today, and my thoughts are not as important as they were yesterday.

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