Whether it’s the heat, or the local culture, or an equal influence of both, life here in Madagascar can be accurately summarised with the simple word “chill”. Every aspect of life here is relaxed, yet not slothful. There is certainly plenty of constant activity. It is simply conducted at ones own pace. However, when living in a country of island beaches and sunsets, it’s hard to blame someone for being at ease.
This is however, primarily during the day when the heat makes tenacity more of a word than a virtue. At night, the local villages of Hellvile and Ambadaluke swarm with that mutual hum of energy one feels hours before a party. This is not to say that they party everyday, but when they do, they bloody well know how too.
This last weekend we went to “beach bar” (not its actual name but you know what I’m talking about when I say it). What it is is a bar/beach/club/disco with the tasteful addition of a pool just in case it wasn’t enough. Anyway, like anyone who knows the true meaning of a good time, I graved a pinacolada and immediately hit the dance floor. It was, in many respects what you would expect from a typical dance floor that you could find in England. There were flashing lights, drunk dancing and a music playlist with every great song ranging from the 1960’s to present day. (They translated Elvis into Malagasy, loved it).
Aside from the basic touches, it was vastly different from any dance floor in England for the sole reason that absolutely everyone there, without exception was a phenomenal dancer. Like seriously, they moved every part of their body. In England you’d be lucky to find a guy who shuffles his feet with the same pace as his arms. Here, the dancing is transcendent, and I do mean that. They give both body and soul to the music while I just watched and took notes on their moves. Not in a weird way.
I’m happy to say that these local qualities of relaxed motivation and appetite for living, have taken root in camp. For a camp full of westerners, it holds none of the social pressures we are used to, such as ; hair, make-up, appearance, clothes, height, weight, etc. There is almost a utopian level of acceptance. There is a guy hear who I’ve never seen in anything other than just sandals and a sarong. And we’ve gone scuba diving together. Whether it’s forest hikes, beach cleans, teaching locals, he always wears only a sarong and sandals. Does anyone care? Hell no.
In this respect Madagascar is unique out of all the possibilities of gap year locations. Here you can have a true escape from work or a well earned break after exams or even just because you feel like it . 10 weeks on a beach needs no explanation. Here, you will learn how to not only relax, but also about animals, how to teach English, how to dive and perhaps most importantly… how to dance like a Madagascan.