Friends for Life

The Four Friends- Post Washing Clothes Photo


Meet 4 friends. 3 came to visit 1. They went on a trip in Madagascar together- Stopping first in Antsirabe, then took a bus to Morondava, returned to Tana, and flew to Diego. From there they spent time in Sadjoavato, a small town 50 kilometers south of Diego. They saw world famous Baobabs, lemurs, fossa, and hissing cockroaches. For breakfast they ate steaming rice cakes and coffee in small tin cups. For lunch they ate rice with fish, boiled greens, or chicken. For dinner they ate rice with boiled greens, beans, or chicken. They met many characteristically gregarious Malagasy people, inviting them to learn about Madagascar and its complex history and rich culture.

First, you should know a little about each one:

Here’s Esther- the funny, smart beautiful one.


Here’s Elizabeth- the funny smart beautiful one.


Here’s Dannielle the funny, smart, beautiful one.


Here’s Alyssa- the funny, smart beautiful one.


And here’s their correspondence since:

Dear Esther,

It has been a few days now since you left Madagascar and I can’t help but feel a bit of disbelief every time I reflect back.

Do you remember when we paired up for the power washing and chocolate body mask at the spa/prison? It made it all the better to hear your giggles through the curtain as you got power washed standing naked by a woman 15 feet away holding a large hose. All I could think is that my dad would be horrified we paid for something when for sure he could power wash us for free.

With love,



Dear Dannielle,

It almost pains me to wake up not within feet of you!

Have you heard from Esther lately? She has not replied to my email. Perhaps she is reliving the tummy troubles she had during the trip. But you know, not even diarrhea stops Esther! She stayed so positive the whole time… Washing clothes in the river, hiking to the rice fields… I was impressed!

Anyways, do you remember the phrase you said every day around noon? “Today is the best day!” you would remark. And how true it was! Even the day our bus to Morondava broke down for hours, you found a way to say it. Or maybe you said that in the morning when we had no idea you were to sit next to a window that smelled of poo.

It was on this bus ride you started to perfect the phrase “mety mitanana zaza?” Can I hold your baby? Only a day later would you use it on the small island as we waited for young coconuts to be cut down from the tree. Do you think you’ll remember that phrase longer than you’ll remember how to say hello?

Missing you lots!


Dear Elizabeth,

Have you heard from Esther or Dannielle? I worry that Dannielle has returned to Morondava to see the Baobab that was particularly well endowed. Let me know if you’ve seen her. I’ve inserted a photo just in case the image isn’t burned into your mind.


After I could go no further with you in the airport I went to this little fenced area tucked behind the airport to watch your flight take off. A few tears trickled down my cheeks as I rested my hands on the wired fence, watching your flight to Diego take off. I can’t believe how well we thrive together. Two weeks can be everything!

Do you remember when we got to the hostel in Morondava and met the owner? A British-French woman, she first showed us there was no water. Then she explained with a foreboding aloofness that her visiting elderly mother has a tendency to steal things. Keep your valuables with you, or even under your pillow as you sleep. Even the signs all over the hostel that warning that in case of a fire, the whole place will burn down quicker than they can dial the fire department, didn’t stop us from staying there. It was however, the impending loud music of the neighboring bar that finally encouraged us to leave the hostel.

She had no idea the patience and flexibility she was dealing with when she was hinting at us to leave! Oh all of our stuff will be stolen and burned? Well I think we can make it work, says a cheerful Elizabeth.

Your other half,


Dear Esther,

Any news from Elizabeth? I remember she was so totally thrilled by see the baby birds hatch while we were in Kirindy National Forest, I worry she has gotten lost in the forest trying to relive the most amazing moment of the trip. It’s a once in a life time even, to stumble upon baby birds hatching!


Or was the most amazing moment when we sat on top of the 4×4 as we drove through the forest back to the main road? Or was it the first night when we stayed at Chez Billy and swapped stories and giggled until we had to force ourselves to stop?

Or maybe the best moment was in Sadjoavato? I brought you ladies to Sadjoavato, where we stayed a few days. You woke me up the first morning there by saying “Whatcha thinkin?!” the first moment I stirred. Esther can do unto Lyssa what Lyssa cannot do unto Esther.

Okay keep me updated on Dannielle and Elizabeth! Getting worried!



Dear Dannielle,

Still no word from the other ladies. Think Esther is getting punished for holding a chicken upside down for an hour on our walk home from the rice fields? It was so amazing of the family we visited there to gift us a chicken.


It was a very personal endeavor, to introduce American friends to my Malagasy family. But what I really feel that Madagascar has taught me is that at some point your love for a friend becomes so strong that they become your family. I think that has happened for me with you, Elizabeth, and Esther. I was able to see all of you communicating without language to my Malagasy family, and in that I was able to see a truly pure form of love beaming from all of you.



PS. Any new ways to tie/fold a lamba? How many did you find while you were here? 8?

Dear Elizabeth,

Do you think it’s possible to drown in lambas? Dannielle has yet to respond to my last email and I do remember her buying lambas to bring back for “friends”.

Although we counted 4 of us, in the end we became Alyssabeth and Danter. Alyssabeth, the calm, collected, reasonable, the base. Danter, the hangry, the wild ones, the flyers. In the crowded bus to Sadjoavato I turned around to look at you with a big kid on your lap, chickens below your feet, and a look of such serenity on your face. What a honor to be a part of Alyssabeth!


And so it should be that the fake hair I had braided into my hair during New Years was then braided into your hair by my Malagasy mother. I include a picture here because words cannot capture such radiance.


Can’t wait until next time!

Peace. Love. Rice,


PS. Can’t wait for you to come next year! Hope it was okay I stole your credit cards to buy you all another trip to Madagascar. Figured it was better to assume you wanted first class seats with an extra seat to hold your excitement. Better to ask forgiveness than permission they always say!

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