Saturday, January 15, 2011



Sorry this post has been long coming. But here it is nonetheless.
About two months ago (at the end of October) I had the fantastic chance of going to Madagascar for a Clinic Abroad with Palmer College of Chiropractic. We spent two weeks in Madagascar providing care for those who could not afford it--in orphanages, schools, towns and small villages. It was amazing. So here's a brief breakdown for y'all who have been patiently awaiting this post.
Madagascar is quite the trek from good ole Ioway, right here smack dab in the middle of the US. It ain't no hop skip and a jump away. We're talking serious business here. 10 hours in a plane to Paris, France. 7 hour layover in Paris, which by the way, not that impressive. At least judging by the airport. Then 14 hours, across Africa in its entirety, on a plane that seems to have just been refurbished from a junkyard and purchased on eBay, flown by a pilot who just finished his last training flight on Playstation (honestly think we skipped like a rock when we landed). So...after roughly 35 hours of transit (including the 2.5 it took to get to Chicago from D-port) we arrived in Madagascar...and lets not forget that we arrived in Madagascar at 4 in the morning their time...making it 8 hours ahead of do the math because it hurts my head to do it all over again.
By the time we made it to our hotel, we were too excited to sleep. Holy cow we were in Madagascar. I mean...who goes to Madagascar? Our first town was the capital city, Antananarivo. Welcome culture shock. Little island off of Africa, that is a French Colony. Crazy stuff. Very urban town with very European traits. And NO stop signs or traffic signs of any kind...they just honk...and pray that the other car can translate said honk. Anywho...on with the story. Our first two days were spent acclimating to the time and culture. A buddy of mind and I wanted to check out the city from our hotel and didn't even make it two steps outdoors before we were met by hagglers/beggars/street merchants who wanted to sell us anything and everything. Not quite what wer're used to around here. The first day I survived the rookie mistake of brushing my teeth with the tap water...a mistake I did not repeat. However, when someone suggests eating Chinese food...make sure you're not in a third world country...because I GUARANTEE that is NEVER a good idea. Next up, we went to the 'market' in the city. I mean 3 miles of shops that are shacks lined up next to each other. Everyone there is bargaining, even if you merely glance at something they want to offer you 'good price'. Entertaining to say the least...until it almost became a sport. But fun...and some pretty sweet stuff. Next day, tour the city and lemur park. The city of Antananarivo is pretty sweet with lots of history, most history I cannot repeat, not because it is sacred or anything, just because I had absolutely no clue what the translator was saying. So, moving on to lemur park! These guys are pretty fun and cute to see. They seem to enjoy hanging out and eating mangoes and watermelon, and jumping large distances from tree to tree, or running, which is entertaining to watch. If you ever get the chance to watch a lemur run, I suggest you take it. Next day in Antananarivo, clinic day at the orphanage. YES. Finally, what we came for. We drove to an orphanage outside of town (sorry but I cannot remember the name), and it was pretty sweet. We adjusted little kids all day and the employees and teachers at the orphanage. The place didn't even seem like what you would think is an orphanage, it just seemed like a school--all the kids were very happy and excited to see the Americans, and they all seemed really close and loved it there. We were also able to donate $1,500 US dollars, or the equivalent of $100,000+ to them, which depending on how they use it could pay the electric bill for the entire orphanage for the next 4 years. Needless to say they were pretty excited. It is amazing to see where the money is actually going to help.
After our time in the capital city we hopped on the eBay airbus and headed to the very northern tip of Madagascar to the city of Antsiranana. Now this city is what you see when you think of 'Africa'. It was amazing. Very rural, lots of beautiful scenery and mountains. Loved it. After our travel day we jumped right in and had a clinic day in town. Hundreds of people lined up to see the doctors from America. They were pretty excited. Our first two days of clinic in Antsiranana were in the same location, so it was pretty fun to see repeat patients and the amazing changes that they experienced just from the one adjustment. The next day we traveled to a small town about an hour away. We were at a school where mainly adjusted kids 12 and under. Some of the cutest kids I've ever seen were in this town. After this small town we were in a lepor colony for a day. There we saw patients outside underneath a mango tree. I wish we were two days in this town because it would have been amazing to see the changes in the patients from one day to the next, like the 12 year old boy I had who had not been able to hear out of his left ear for a while. From here we were back at our original location in Antsiranana for our last day of clinic. Again, pretty amazing seeing the changes that the patients had from their repeat visits. After our last day of clinic we had our one and only free day of the trip, where we took the time to go swim in the Indian Ocean. Man...beautiful water and sand. Some people had the attitude that its just another ocean...but I'd say how often do you get to swim in the Indian Ocean? Pretty cool stuff. After our free day. Hooray. I loved Madagascar, don't get me wrong, but was I ever excited to see Stephanie and Will...and eat that I actually knew what it was...and knew for a fact wouldn't kill me, or at least make me wish I died. The good news is my immune system is now a tank, and nothing can bring me down. But what an amazing experience. I don't think this blog post or the random pictures can even describe the trip. Its almost still surreal to me, just thinking, 'wow, I was in crazy is that???'
Hope this post finds you all well.


click here to see more pictures.


Abby said...

Haha this reminds me of Indonesia. 2 long flights, a ferry boat, and another boat ride. Thanks for sharing about your trip. It makes me want to travel to Africa! :-)

The Zyckis said...

Tim went to Madagascar too! Our hubbies must know each other!

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