Hello, mouse lemur, don’t run away

Cute but difficult to photograph

Forgive this random photo, but I realized that I had the shot and never posted it.

Meet the mouse lemur, the smallest of Madagascar’s native, if strange, primates.

I managed to photograph him in a small tree during a hike through the Reserve de Nahampoana near Ft. Dauphin. This nocturnal little guy hides dutifully during the day, but even at night he’s a bit shy.

My guide spent the better part of an hour scouring various trees and bushes before we spotted him by torch light. He jumped away almost as soon as my flash went off. A second chance for better focus was not an option.

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A year-in-review

2009 kinda kicked ass

2009 kinda kicked ass

This past year pretty much rocked. And the New Year came in fine manner.  No kisses, but a bonfire amid the palm trees (above), new friends, lobster, a decent cigar (thanks, C!), champagne and even the Harry Connick, Jr., band playing Auld Lang Syne at midnight (never leave home without the iPod).

I meant to post this sooner, but here’s a little look back at my new life (as chronicled on this blog):

Continue reading this entry » » »

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Things Africa taught me

I’ve now arrived in India and am getting settled and spending a little time with family in Pune. I’ve also been coming up with a list of lessons learned from seven weeks in Africa. In no particular order, here goes:

  • French, that language I really thought was useless, is so not useless. Especially if you’re in Madagascar in non-tourist towns, trying to report and the only people you meet competent enough in English to be a translator are either employees of the company you’re writing about or  activists in the community.
  • mudReef flip flops are awesome. Seriously. Reef. Write it down. Best sandal I’ve ever worn. Damn near the best thing I’ve ever put on my foot. For example, when I accidentally stepped into two and a half feet of quick mud and lost a flip flop (again, thanks Sara from London, for a great laugh), I immediately paid the local who pulled me out another 500 shillings (a little more than $7, probably his weekly wage) to get back in the mud and retrieve my flip flop. (Dear Reef, I’m hoping for an endorsement deal. “Backpack journalist in Third World swears by Reef sandals.” Sounds good, no?)
  • I like parentheses.
  • Eat bananas. Leg cramps suck.
  • Save some bananas for the lemurs.

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≤20 seconds: Dancing lemurs

I’ve decided to begin posting video shorts — ≤20 seconds — of particularly compelling, stunning or funny scenes. Think slice-of-life moments that cry out for more than just a photo. I’ll be adding these from time to time to the blog in a separate category, as well as to a new YouTube channel.

The first (more lemur-induced laughs) comes from southern Madagascar at the Reserve de Nahampoana.

I can already hear exactly how at least one of you will giggle.

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Ring, brown and sifaka, oh my! (photos)

Lemurs and other wildlife from the Reserve de Nahampoana in southern Madagascar.

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Sifaka is pronounced ‘shif-akh’ (photo)

Hello, sifaka.

Hello, sifaka.

Cute little bastard, isn’t he? One of the Reserve de Nahampoana’s many funny “dancing” lemurs, so named because when on the ground they hop sideways everywhere they go.  More photos coming soon.

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Goodbye Kenya, hello Madagascar

Headed to the airport at sunrise

Headed to the airport at sunrise

After 26 days in Kenya, I’m headed to Madagascar. I’ll be reporting at a large titanium mine Fort Dauphin in the south of the country — one that a conservationist boldly told me was “on balance, better for the environment.” I’m also hoping to check out some biological preserves with St. Louis ties.

In the downtime, I’ll be chilling on the beach, maybe kite surfing, definitely fishing and playing with a lemur or two.

And probably not speaking much English. Madagascar is a francophone country, so while Malagasy is the official language, French is the Western choice. (If broken e-mails from my hotel in the capital Antananarivo are any indication, English isn’t exactly popular.)

S’il vous plait, I might be screwed. Or it will make for more entertaining adventures.

My plane departs in 67 minutes. Catch you on the flip side.

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