I have no recollection of my early days in Madagascar; of course I was two years old when my parents separated and my mother and I moved to France. At the time she was pregnant and was looking to start a new life in a new country. My earlier memories of growing up in France include large family gatherings at grandma's house, cold, icy winters , preschool fun, my mom juggling 3 young children as she had given birth to my two younger sisters and had 3 children by the age 20. My father lived in Madagascar; a far away island in the south east of Africa, so far it would take 10 hours by plane to get there is what my mother would say.
Traveling to the big Island somehow became a distant dream. Something I might do someday; it stayed on my bucket list but was tuck away at the very bottom... Life has a funny way to make a full circle. When I was thinking about it I realized I had come to France, then traveled to the US and while I LOVE my life here, I always felt like something was missing. I spent the past 17 years busy raising my girls, working to make a living, and finally became an American Citizen! I have grown into a different person in the past 10 years. I started my own business; taking better care of my self by eating healthier, working out consistently and helping other women in the process. I love what I do and it fulfills me. But I recently realized is that no matter how much you take care of your physical, it does you no good if you don't take care of the emotional and spiritual aspect of your life. Many "in shape" people have so much baggage they are dealing with on the inside. I see it in my profession; we all want to fix the outside but don't take time to fix the inside. Getting in touch with my emotional and spiritual well being took time because it is so uncomfortable to look at what hurt and pain we hide inside. Journaling and opening up to my closed circle was a big part of my healing and discovering the things I was missing to fully be happy. One of those things was my relationship ( or lack off) with my father. I never knew It was missing because I didn't really know what it was like to have a father in my life. I witnessed my girls's father- daughter relationships ( with both dad and Step dad:) and thought to myself: " at least I can give them what I didn't have" . It makes me happy to know they won't feel the void that I felt my whole life.
So April 8th 2019, two weeks before my 40th birthday I got on a plane to Madagascar. After a long 17 hour fight I finally had made it back to my birth island. I spent my first week in the city of Tulear with my aunt. It reminded me a lot of Arizona except with palm trees and sea. My aunt took me to one of her favorite resort in the small town of Ifaty to spend a few days alone while she worked. Ifaty was the picture perfect beach with white sand, clear blue water, and lots of coconut trees! My first morning there; I went on a small excursion to explore the coral reefs and man was I in for a treat! I had never seen anything so beautiful in my entire life. I've always had a deep appreciation for the ocean ( blue is my favorite color:) and the wonders of earth but when I saw it with my own eyes I felt so overwhelmed I had to take a moment to center myself and just take it all in.
At night the resort shuts down at 9pm which means no wifi, no tv, nothing to do! So on my second night I hesitated but then decided to join some of the staff to the nearest night club. How Could I resist when I could hear the music all the way from my room! The music of the night was calling my name so off I went to discover Ifaty's night life. We ended up in a little night club where many were standing outside and no one was dancing. I was told it was still pretty early and that the party would start very soon. I like having the dance floor to myself so I went on to do my thing :) Before I knew it more and more people joined and the room filled to the point of no elbow room. I had so much fun dancing and just losing myself to the beats of Madagascar. I remember thinking to myself; here I am thousands of miles away "living my best life". I didn't know anyone there but yet it felt like home; for the first time in my life I was comfortable with complete strangers. On my way out of the club; while waiting for my ride; I happened to look up and I don't know if it was the effect of the rum I had drank earlier but I saw millions of bright shining stars in the sky. I had to take another breath to take in this moment in time. I spent the next day laying on the beach of Ifaty, gazing in the sun and swimming in the warm ocean; enjoying every minute of this beautiful place I now called home. My aunt came back to pick me up and we headed back to her house for one final night together before I continued my journey to the northern part of Madagascar: Majunga.
Majunga has a special place in my heart; It is the city where my parents met as teenagers and where I was born. The number one reason of me coming here was to finally meet my dad and the build up to this moment felt unreal. For the longest time I was in denial about how emotional this reunion would be. I didn't know what to expect. I was told he was beyond excited to finally meet me but I had no idea how emotional I was going to feel. The minute I got off the plane; I could feel my nerves set in. As I walked into the airport I noticed someone waving at me and then I saw many other faces smiling and in the crowd I recognized my dad. I came closer and that's when it all hit me! Tears started flowing uncontrollably. After giving me a long hug, everyone around us was introducing themselves as my cousin, my sister, my brothers, nephews, and nieces. Many family members I didn't know I had! I spent a total of five days with my family in Madagascar and while it wasn't enough time I am thankful for every minute of it. Everyone, including my dad was so welcoming; they made sure I was comfortable, well fed ( I was spoiled with fresh sea food, Malagasy food, freshly pressed fruit juices, and croissants every day:)
I got to spend my birthday with them which made my 40th even more special and one I will never forget. My dad and I talked a lot but also spent some quiet time just being together. I found some similarity in our personalities; we both like to socialize but also enjoy quiet time alone. We both love music and dancing; like me he LOVES the ocean, and works for himself. He is quiet, and soft spoken.
I am the oldest of his children, he has a total of 4 girls and 4 boys. While I did not meet one of my sisters, I got to meet everyone else and I felt so close to them as if I had known them before. It was nice to be able to see myself in their faces and smiles. I don't see myself moving to Madagascar anytime soon but It felt like coming home so I know I will go back for vacations. There is so much more to see and more memories to make with my family that I'm already missing!
Phew... this was a log blog post so if you read it until the end; I want to personally thank you for your interest and your support! Many of you know me as their trainer and friend so it means a lot. I had to share my journey back to Madagascar because writing and journaling have become such a therapeutic aspect of my life.
I hope it will inspire you to do the same: travel, do things that may be uncomfortable, write your thoughts down, heal and grow in the process.