June 13, 2017 Madagascar
In matters of Life and Death, a birthday to adventure (A Flight from Maidenhood to Adulthood)
Last year I found myself on a boat with a bunch of fellow tourist, going from Madagascar to an Isolated island of Madagascar. Along with us tourist the additional boat spaces at the back were filled by locals. I had the second to the last tourist seat, and a young local girl who had the misfortune, as it appeared on her face, to sit next to me.
From there a saga began. I let her borrow my camera. Her family invited me to their isolated village and disco night. I was taken there, 60km/40m by a taxi driver. Prior to departure I promised the girl and her brother a phone and a camera. Another saga was created, as I went through various gyrations to make good on my promise. But by March’s end I had fulfilled my promise of 6 months prior.
The young man, Jean Luc, and his sister Franceline with their father and mother, travelled 4 hours by land and sea to get to meet my Malagasy friend Eric Ranivo who had assisted me with the acquisition and now distribution of promised camera and phone. With money left over, I included that in an envelope with a letter to mother and father, thanking them for having such great children and the hospitality they had shown me, and making me feel at home in their village. I also told them I would be returning in June and on the 15 June would like to take Jean Luc, and Franceline with me to explore more of Madagascar. (With friend and tour guide Eric Ranivo) And to see how they had progressed with phone and camera. They were chuffed by this invitation, and not only that, the date I chose to start the trip coincidently is Franceline’s 18th birthday. A birthday which will include not only her first day as an adult, but her and her brother of 26, first flight ever. Coincidences are like this icing on a cake.
That night they returned, the 4 hours to their village. Franceline taking her first pictures, with her new camera of family, friends and the world around her on the way. That night they slept with their gifts, Jean Luc with is phone. Franceline with camera and her parents with some cash and the knowledge they and their children were respected and appreciated.
The next morning all awoke, except the father, his spirit had left his body behind, he had passed to the next world. A night of gladness and now sadness. But I do take solace, in coincidence, for I am happy that the timing was such that the last memories of the father, may have contained some of my words of appreciation for him and his family, and he could take that memory with others, as his soul travels to wherever they go. And for the family, photographic memories, they would not have otherwise had, if it were not for the camera, at hand.
I am now back, as promised. I will trek with my taxi driver Jestor, his wife Ella and their new son for a two day trek to collect Franceline and Jean Luc, for a two week adventure and discovery of their country with them. Starting with Franceline’s maiden flight from childhood to adulthood.