Saturday, 4 October 2014

Madagascar diaries, part 8 and final: Mora-mora and other wisdom

Read the previous posts: part one, two, three, four, five, six and seven.

“Mora-mora” (or something like that) means “slowly but surely”. Don't rush. It will take the time it takes. Sooner or later.

My old Russian self is comfortable with the attitude. Mora-mora your luggage will arrive. Or maybe not. Mora-mora your flight will maybe depart or maybe not, but mora-mora it will.

Our flight from Toliara back to Tana was scheduled 12.25, but Mami told us already the day before that it would probably leave at 4.40 or probably delayed indefinitely. Apparently, Madagascar Air has one Boeing that jumps up and down between the capital and smaller cities at random intervals. Because of the delay we had time to visit Arboretum. When we were finally taken to the airport, the plane was there, but not going to Tana yet; first to some other place, then back to Toliara, then to Tana. Mora-mora.

In the morning, I went to get some money from the ATM. You never knew how much you might need, and I didn't want to take out too much. The highest amount the machine allowed to withdraw was 200,000 ariary, but when I tried, the display said it was unavailable. I tried 100,000; I tried another card; Anton tried his card. The long line behind us got impatient. We moved aside, and the next person tried. The machine had run out of cash! Mora-mora. I was truly amused.

The plane eventually came, and the next day in Tana we went to the Lemur Park, and the day after we flew home with seven hours stop in Nairobi that almost killed me.

And it took me mora-mora to come to terms with Madagascar. In my journal, I sometimes wrote that I hated it, that the culture was alien to me, that apart from short walks I didn't get anything out of the trip. I was wrong. I wrote in my first Madagascar post that the experience was life-changing, and it was. It just took mora-mora to admit it to myself.

First, I had to tell something to my friends and colleagues, who eagerly inquired whether the trip had met my expectations. I was obliged to say that it hadn't, but only because I had had wrong expectations. When people asked me: “Was it fabulous?” I said cautiously: “It was interesting”. The more I had to account for, the more vivid the memories went, and the more they shifted. When people asked: “Did you really see lemurs?” I said: “Yes. But we also saw people”. And mora-mora I realised that it was significant.

Mora-mora I looked up charities that work in Madagascar. I realised that I am paying more in pet insurance that it would cost to send a Malagasy child to school. Does it mean that I should stop paying pet insurance, stop making miniatures (although I make most of them from rubbish, like the man in the miniature-bike shop), stop gardening, stop going out for dinner or have my hair cut? No, not at all. But it sets everything in perspective. The money we spent on our trip would be enough to build a school. But then, if we hadn't gone on the trip, we wouldn't have known. 

Every morning when I shower, I remember discarded plastic bottles that Mami filled with tap water and gave to people along the road. I have always been ecologically aware, so nothing was a revelation. But even with my Russian background, I take too much for granted.

The good thing is that I don't feel guilty. (I used to feel guilty about Russia, but it is another story). I feel, in a strange way, peaceful, because there are more important things in the world than my small everyday problems.

This is what some charity sites say:

£5 will provide tools...
£10 will provide seeds...
£15 will provide a stove...
£25 will provide a school desk...

Mora-mora, Madagascar, I may come back.

Aloe in Isalo National park

All photos in my Madagascar diaries have been taken by Anton Skott

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