This year I travelled for the winter to Madagascar. Madagascar is a large island in the Indian Ocean. It is inhabited by African and Asian peoples. I travelled to Antananarivo, Tamatava, Saint Marie, Diego Suarez, Nosy Be, Majunga, Morondava, Toleara and Fort Dauphin. The roads in Madagascar are bad, mostly sand paths with huge pot holes. If you travel by bush taxi, you will encounter some weird situations. For example in Morondava, I took a taxi to the ancient baobabs. The taxi sunk in a deep pothole. Water came into the inside of the car. Often is is impossible to travel even 50 kilometers because of the bad roads, which are impassable when it rains. I was in Madagascar during the rain season and it rained every day. There are 18 ethnic groups in Madagascar. The majority of them are african descendants. But there are also groups, who came originally from Indonesia. Most of the people in Madagascar are mixed like points on a spectrum. You will encounter persons with black skin, but asian features and asians, who have african features. I gave up trying to distinguish whether they were afrians or asians. There is a certain amount of tension between the predominately african people and the predominately asian people. Those who are predominately asian often treat the Madagascan of african descent like second class citizen. They often discriminate against them. Since I am African American, I was often mistaken for a black Madagascan and I therefore experierenced the difference in treatment. There are also many Indian trademen on the island, who are very disrespectful toward the darker skinned Madagascan. I had to lose my countenance several times in Madagascar, because of disrespectful treatment by Indians. Once in the supermarket "Shoprite", an Indian woman skipped me in line. She came and placed her things on the cash register counter right in front of me. She did this because the Indians treat the dark skinned Madagascan in this manner. The black Madagascan rarely protest, because they have a very low self esteem. They think that because they are poor, they have no right to protest. Of course as a Black American, I am used to defending my rights. I took the products of the Indian woman and placed them on the counter behind me. The Indian woman protested. I told her in English that I had waited for my turn and that she would have to do the same. Then I said to her, "You Indians have no respect for other people!". When I opened my mouth, she knew immediately that she had made a mistake.....that I could not be Madagascan.

Another incident happened in Majunga. I walked into a small bodega to buy something to eat. The Indian old Indian man with his wife, gazed terrified when I walked into their shop. I knew from the terror in their eyes that they thought I had come to rob them. Therefore, I spoke English to them and not French. They relaxed immediately when they realized that I was not a black Madagascan. This incident reminded me of my home, the United States. Things like this happen also quite often to black people in the United States. People say that they are not racists, but they act often in a racists manner.

My favorite place in Madagascar was the Island of Saint Marie and the very clean city of Fort Dauphin. Such cleanliness is seldom in Africa. I liked the beach of Andolana on the island of Nosy Be, and the Baobabs outside of Morondava.

The Madagascan people are very friendly, opened and guest friendly. Because of the high level of poverty, there is a problem on the island with banditry and one must be very careful not to full victim to crime. I felt as a black man relatively comfortable there. The French men, who come to Madagascar looking for young girls are a plague. Many of them are very old and have young girls on their side, who could be their grandchildren. Most of the bars in Madagascar are meeting places for these young Madagascan girls and old French men. I found them disgusting!

As far as the flora and fauna are concerned: The flora and fauna on Madagascar are endemic to the island. This means they can only be found on the island of Madagascar. There are many natural parks in every part of the country....perhaps too many. But it is ofen difficult trying to travel to a park, because of the terrible roads. Also the political class in Madagascar is corrupt like in many countries in Africa. The overprice fees and costs to visit a natural park goes into the pockets of the corrupted politicians. It is pocket money for their children. One should be aware of this before one decides to visit a natural park and if one has a social consciousness, which many people nowadays do not have.