I imagine as a first-world traveller having never visited Africa, that arriving in Madagascar for the first time must be a culture shock.
My entrance was via Johannesburg, South Africa - my old home - so in a way, I was partially aclimatised to African Life™. And yet, Madagascar feels distinct from Africa.
Flying Johannesburg to Antananarivo (or Tana) took 3 hours, and it feels familiar here. Maybe a little more tropical, but a comfortable 28 degrees.
Walking through the streets of Tana reminds me both of Gaberone, Botswana and Port Louis in Mauritius. The roads are filled with chaos; pedestrians, motor cyclists, cars, and mini-buses all share the same space with the markets but somehow it all works out orderly. Here, the hooter becomes a beacon rather than a scolding. The result is a noisy, busy, and edgy commute.
My familiarity of the African Life™ falls short with the language barrier. Malagasy and French are most commonly spoken here, so I'm struggling a bit with the communication gap. Gesturing, pointing, and rewording are all useful tools for getting around, but I'm not sufficiently prepared.
The people here are a wonderful mix of African, Malay, and Indian cultures. Strangers greet you in the street and hallways, I miss that after having moved to New Zealand where in contrast it's considered polite to not make eye contact.