Returning from Madagascar two weeks ago to Cape Town was tough.
After a month of travelling, filming and connecting with Malagasy people in some of the more remote regions of the country, it feels like life in Cape Town is too fast, full and intense. Comparably our daily lives in the rain forest regions of the north-east
and drier regions of south-west felt simple, clear and uncluttered.
Don’t get me wrong, we were working all the time! We were meeting new people (villagers, conservation officials, guides, boatmen, young English students) everyday, filming on 2 cameras everyday (there was always something new and unique to capture) or arranging what the next location would be, and how we would get there.
But somehow, it felt that with our one objective of making a film that connects climate change, conservation and the beautiful people of Madagascar, we could stay focussed.
We we absorbing and capturing images in some of the most beautiful places I have ever been in the world. The Masoala National Park and adjacent coastline is a unique ecosystem where the rainforest literally meets the ocean. Tendrils of creeping vines hang over the yellow beach, brown-fronted lemurs eat leaves from the 100-year-old gnarled tamarind trees, a step away from the warm sea. Beyond the black rocks off the beach, the bay is filled with brightly coloured tropical fish and deeper in Antongil Bay, whales frolick with their calves.
The Marojejy region, further up north gave us the opportunity to meet vanilla and coffee farmers. This was where we got our first REAL vanilla shake…. which is the most welcome, hearty handshake from a friendly vanilla farmer in this region! Malagasy people don’t do confrontation, its just not part of their culture. So no one is ever angry or upset but always relaxed and open to whatever comes their way. Its makes for peaceful meetings and discussions. Always.
Here we also saw up close the silky Sifakas, which is a highly endangered species of lemur that lives only in certain parts of the island. And many other endemic reptiles, plants and gorgeously coloured birds. I miss the rain forests…
The rainforest regions we visited are so lush, that it became difficult to see the hardship and climate related problems the people here are experiencing.
But when we travelled to the south west near Toliara, the dryness and scarcity of water makes everything a lot clearer.
Water is scarce.
We filmed an extended family digging a well in a dry river bed to find water. It would take them whole day to find something. 50 km up the main road, people are travelling 7 or 8 km by foot to collect water in big buckets. And this will only get worse with the current predictions of climate shifts…
And now, back in CT, the work is in full swing. Local Malagasy people are doing translations for us via email, and I’m starting to sort and arrange all this footage we captured into something meaningful. And thats the challenge – turning such a rich, meaningful trip into a film that will move hearts and minds.
Watch this space.