It’s true. I am. I’m spending the next 48 hours traveling to Antananarivo, the capital of Madagascar, better known as “Tana”. I’m meeting another young woman at a hotel in Tana to begin our 10-day adventure. Did I make it sound sketchy to you? Good. That was the point. Because, it’s not; I wanted to grab your attention. Let me take you back and tell you why.
In 2013, I spent part of the year studying at the University of Queensland with 38 other students. It was on this trip, that I met Bryanna. She was radiant, intelligent, with long brown hair and soulful eyes. She spoke her mind and did so with poise. She was brilliant and well-traveled. She yearned to continually explore this world. We learned that we both attended the same home university, both lived in East Africa for some time, both spoke a plethora of languages to some capacity, both loved dancing, the list goes on…
Gosh, I could write a great wedding toast to her. But, back to the story. Bryanna and I would part ways in November of 2013; she to Costa Rica and me to South America, Antarctica, and back to California. We kept in touch via technology–Skype mainly. We’d rant about our major frustrations and congratulate each other on our accomplishments. After some months, we’d end up in California for a year or two with overlap and spend time dancing, dyeing our hair, and studying for ornithology (birds) exams. When you’ve danced to the point you’re a sweaty mess, washed out henna in the same shower, and cried over how to distinguish bird species together, you’re close. I’ll vouch for this because most of you probably haven’t experienced that magical combination. Bryanna would later move around more, first to Nevada, where I visited her after learning I hadn’t been accepted to a grad school program, and then to Scotland where she is pursuing her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine. When school breaks permitted, we’d do anything to see each other. However, living across the world makes that challenging. Add in the fact that both of us are now pursuing doctoral degrees, it’s a struggle.
Nonetheless, as you can imagine, we put in the effort. We both have degrees in Wildlife, Fish, and Conservation Biology (she was a double major in English…) and are passionate about traveling. So, somewhere over the past 5 years, we made it work. We both wanted to visit Madagascar. It’s been on my “bucket list” for years and I know it’s disappearing. Home to over 25,000 endemic (only found in this location) animal species and 11,000 endemic plant species, Madagascar is a place that wildlife biologists dream of visiting. Unsurprisingly, Bryanna and I were pumped to go! It took a few years for the logistics, economics, politicos, and academics to align, but it finally happened. Finally.
So, today, I’m starting my two-day journey to meet the lovely Bryanna at a hotel in Madagascar. I’m still not exactly sure where we’re going. Many of the places on our rough itinerary don’t exist on google maps. Add in that neither Bryanna nor I speak Malagasy or French, the national languages, and it’s almost comical. We should’ve pitched this to NatGeo or the Discovery Channel or in the least, a film student, because I guarantee you we are entertainment. We are memory-makers.
As I sit in the San Diego airport, the La’s song, “There She Goes” plays on repeat in my head. When people see Bryanna or I, that must be what they think: there she goes. We’re constantly going, constantly making memories. And for once, we’re going to a foreign land and we’re going to explore together.
To all of the young women out there: go. Be the one that people see traveling. Be the one that makes people think, “there she goes”. Going is good. Going is progress. Going is exploration.