My morning starts just after dawn before the bright Madagascar sun begins to bake the forests and radiate heat off the calm ocean water. I sleepily pull on my hiking boots and start hiking through the cool misty forests, climbing rock boulders, jumping over mud puddles, pulling myself up with vines, heading to the top of the lush volcanic island to watch wild lemurs.
I jump across slippery rocks and stop to admire bright green lizards that decorate the trees as we hike. The forest is wet from rains the night before, which produces a fragrant scent as we navigate through the winding, thick trees that provide us with much-needed shade for our hike. I bump into a plum-colored bulb hanging from a tree- my back and arm are instantaneously covered with ants. Panic subsides shortly as I brush off the scrambling ants that are surely just as surprised by the sudden encounter as I am.
After 2 hours of sweaty hiking we reach the top of the island and settle into the enchanted forest to watch lemurs. At first I see nothing, but after some silence the trees begin to shake, the forest comes alive as at least a dozen lemurs jump from tree to tree. The females are a rusty-brown color with white fur that resembles a beard around their face, and males are dark brown. The sound lemurs make surprises me and resembles the noise of a frog mixed with a pig. I watch the fast-moving creatures for an hour and try to spot the bushy tails hanging from the trees in the distance. A male and female grunt as they cuddle and groom each other on a tree branch in front of me.
The forest is magic and full of vibrant colors. Bright orange leaves stand out against the wet brown soil and green vines. Yellow fruit hangs from the trees (lemurs eat it) and smashes on the ground to feed the forest life. Red and black frogs the size of my finger tip hop around me. We find a chameleon camouflaged as a leaf and watch it change colors slowly as it sways and crawls away. I blissfully climb, slide, and fall back down the muddy decline of the volcanic island as the sun peeks through the thick leaves. The balmy water of the Indian ocean is a perfect ending to the hike – I smile to myself and nature as I fall asleep in the sun on a warm rock by the water.
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