Wonderful Madagascar - and escaping it!

Oh how I "love" islands
Parth Nilawar has created this. It's actually an update of the original. Notice the flag ;)
I was actually born on an island. Not a tropical one with palm trees and white sand beaches. But nevertheless an island. That island is in the center of Denmark. Back in 1978 the bridge which today connects it to eastern Denmark didn't exist yet. There was a ferry instead. The island was however connected to the mainland in the west with a bridge (constructed in 1970). And apart from that there were/are lots of other ferries going to various islands. Denmark has always had significant logistical value. And as far as I know we have never failed to deliver the very best within logistics.
I'm in Madagascar now within the Indian Ocean (East Africa). I arrived from Comoros on a slightly dodgy cargo ship which commonly takes passengers as well. I got to Comoros from Tanzania on something similar. It's an adventure and not something you would do in order to save time. I would consider going back the same way to be a nightmare.
Maps, plans and chocolate...
I'm currently looking towards reaching the Seychelles and Mauritius. I know you think to yourselves that it must be so fantastic and so wonderful to reach such places. If I was working 9-5 in an office to provide for my family and lifestyle, then I might think so too. But then it wouldn't be country number 115. And I would fly. I would land in the airport and go to my hotel. I would race to the beach and briefly elope from my life back home. It would be a break from normal life.
My reality is that "this" is my normal life. I'm out here for more than a thousand days trying to deliver something much bigger than myself. I'm trying to deliver something for you and anyone else who finds this project. Anyone who checks into the Saga.
I believe that Madagascars natural beauty has never been disputed.
I struggle a bit with conveying what I'm actually trying to do. This isn't a travel blog. I'm not merely traveling around enjoying the good side of life. For me this is a job. It's the hardest, most complex job I've ever had. I created it myself, which might explain more about my personal nature than anything else. Very simplified this is what the Saga is today:
It's 3 projects under one roof:
A journey to every country without flight with all of its complicated logistics (203 countries).

A positive promotion of each country sharing stories of positive experiences to counter the negatives we see in the media (203 countries).

A positive promotion of the Red Cross Red Crescent movement which was founded in 1863 and today spans across 190 nations.
I took a taxi to the bus. And a bus from Tana (Antananarivo) to Tamatave. 
I might have bitten more off than I can chew. It seems to me that trying to pull off just one of those projects, would be more than enough for anyone. I certainly do not feel like I have much time to spare on a daily basis. My passion lies within all 3 projects. But I'm most passionate about number 2! We live on this planet among more than 7 billion people and we generally have no idea what life is like for any of them. But most people seem opinionated nonetheless? How is that possible? We think that we are better or worse than others. We speak about countries we have never been to. And we speak about countries as if they are homogeneous entities, where a single citizen represents some idea we have forged about people from "over there". I aim to show you the world as I see it while I pass through it. I generalize just like anyone else. But I try to break the mirror, which reflects within most of us. Because we are wrong! Our mindset needs to be updated to a more current reality. The world has never been as connected as it is today through easy access to travel and a complex network of social media. We are only a click away from observing people from the other side of the planet. But that is in most cases no basis for understanding what we see. Generalizing has a place in this world. But the generalization should be far more optimistic than what I commonly observe it is in reality. Almost everything is getting better. Almost everything is better than what I used to be. Almost everyone is more informed than you think and have access to better lifestyles than you imagine.
The road from Tana to Tamatave had a billion twists and turns. I barely managed to keep my insides.
That does not mean that everything is good. We live in a world with decease, oppression, conflict, unfairness and disasters. But none of that is dominant! What is truly dominant is laughter, education, family, sports, music, games, connection, curiosity, solutions, innovation, freedom and love. There is far more of that than anything else on this planet. Well, I might argue that this planet possesses its fair share of religion and fear as well. For me religion and fear is tightly connected to how we commonly perceive the world...and that's why I want to smash that mirror. With that in mind I think the Saga is immensely important and I dearly wish for more people to take part. Oh well, one can dream...
Alice is a wonderful French traveller and humanitarian. I met her in Tana, where she was working with the Malagasy Red Cross.
We live on a satellite. The definition of a satellite is something which circles around something else. If you run around a tree then you are a satellite to that tree. Our planet circles the sun. The moon circles our planet. We live in a wast sea of satellites which stretches far beyond our current reach. But most of all we live in our minds. Your heart is an organ which pumps blood to the rest of your body. It has no feelings and makes no decisions. And it's certainly not heart shaped in the romantic sense. Everything we think, we know has been forged inside our minds. And the vast majority of it has been planted there by others. There are no separate races on this planet? That's crazy talk! There is only one race. Pigmentation has no say in who you are or what you will do. The idea about it does. The size of your nose or the shape of your eyes doesn't mean anything. If you think it means something, then it's because you've been influenced by someone else. What truly matters is accessibility. Do you have access to safety, education, healthcare and development? That is something which truly shapes people's personalities.
Beach and sand? Where?!? Oh! In front of the ships. I only saw the ships... ;)
Enough about that. I'm in the Indian Ocean on an island and I need to get away. Not because I really want to leave. Madagascar is extraordinary pleasant! People are kind and gentle, the nature is mind blowing, food is good, prices are low and I feel safe. It's a country with a lot of materialistically disadvantaged people. Distribution of wealth around here isn't impressive. I could say that for most countries. But there's a sizable middle class too and as always you can find the filthy rich if you look for them. Wifi is super good most places I've been! That is really something to take notice of in the time and age we live in. Facebook is racing forward at a pace you cannot imagine and everyone needs to get connected somehow. There is no shortage of providers of internet! I've found internet in every country so far. That's 114 countries for those of you who are counting. The only country I've been to with strict limitations has been Cuba. But I found wifi anyway and in the near future it will be everywhere there as well. Smartphones are the big thing of our time and nearly everyone has got one. Perhaps not the latest iPhone or Samsung. But there are many providers and everyone is getting online. Here in Madagascar you find wifi at cafés, restaurants, hotels, through a simcard etc. There is plenty of it. And if you take a moment to think about what that means then you will learn a lot in a few seconds. We're generally watching the same videos, reading the same articles, listing to the same music, seeing the same photos and following the same teams all around the world. Even in that "shithole" you once heard of people were watching Portugal beat France in football. If people globally take interest in the same things as you - then what makes them different? I'm not saying we're all the same. We're not. I'm just saying: Think harder ;)
I almost got on a containership a week earlier. But no...
I know how I'll leave Madagascar. I have worked it out. IT WAS NOT EASY! But it's a done deal. I'm going to the Seychelles from here. I also have a plan for getting from the Seychelles to Mauritius. But no arrangements have been made for that so far. I even know how I plan to get from Mauritius and back to the African continent! What I'm about to do is so extreme that I can hardly phantom it myself!! And I'm fairly sure that it's never been done by anyone before!! So how about that? Maersk (http://www.maerskline.com/has as usual been very helpful although they officially are not involved in the project (and Maersk, if you're reading this then you're invited to appear on the webpage with logo and link for free. You've earned it!). For anyone who doesn't know them, then Maersk is the largest shipping company in the world measured by containerized shipments. In fact there are fairly good odds that whatever you're wearing or whatever you're sitting on was at some point transported by Maersk. Maersk does not own all the ships they use for transport. That happens to be the case for the ships which arrive and depart from Madagascar. To Maersk these ships are time chartered. That means Maersk operates and administers the cargo while someone else handles the crew and maintenance.
Rickshaws are everywhere in Tamatave and are often a good way to cut time between places. A ride costs less than $0.20 in most cases.
The "Cape Moss" is exactly such a containership. She is operated by Colombia Shipmanagement LTD (http://www.columbia-shipmanagement.com/). "Cape Moss" has agreed to carry me from here to the Seychelles. She will arrive here at Tamatave Monday morning and depart the following day. Capt. Avtandil Zoidze has already sent a kind email welcoming me onboard. Naturally I'm thankful to everyone who has been involved thus far. 
How would YOU get past port security? I do it all the time.
Here's an exercise for you: You're in a foreign country with a foreign language and with foreign customs. You're a foreigner ;) How would you make arrangements to get onboard a containership which will arrive in a few days? I would be severely surprised if you could imagine the administrative work behind this ;)
That same exact work continues! Because to pull this off, we need arrangements for the next ship: Seychelles to Mauritius. Once that is in place I can request for permission to come onboard the 3rd ship which is to bring me away from Mauritius. I think I'll get that permission once I ask, because I'm friendly with the owners. But I can't very well put that into motion before ship number 2 is in place. Oh how I "love" islands! Meanwhile most people I speak to refer me to the Madagascar/Mauritius ferry. Many people know about it, but hardly anyone knows that it no longer exists. I've been in touch with its management (in Mauritius) who inform that it was discontinued long ago. But it was in operation when I planed this project...3 years ago.
Best pizza I've had for a very long time!
Have no doubt: This is a giant project. I cannot imagine anything of this size has been done within Danish history? It involves the worlds largest humanitarian organization (www.ifrc.org) and the worlds largest shipping company (www.maerskline.com). It involves every country in the world and it even involves you ;)
I have no idea if the Saga will ever be completed. But we are more than halfway and that has got to count for something? Within the remaining Africa 4 countries are haunting me: South Sudan, Somalia, Eritrea and Libya. Everything else should be fine and more or less "easy". Unrest has broken out in South Sudan again. It's the worlds newest country and has only existed since 2011. Somalia is Somalia. It's been unstable for more than 20 years although the northern part is showing real development. But trying to access Mogandishu (the capital) could prove unnecessarily dangerous. And I'm undecided on whether to do it or not. I'll need to know more first. The United Nations was present at the border between Eritrea and Ethiopia some 15 years ago. 10 years of war had ended and the UN was safeguarding the peace. To my great frustration the fire has blossomed once again. What is it with people in power and armed conflicts? It's enormously cost full for any source of resources. It hardly ever leads to development. And then there is Libya...not my greatest concern. But a concern nonetheless. Libya is almost completely engulfed by the Sahara. It has 2,000km of pristine Mediterranean coastline, a population of 5 million people, exquisite archeological sites from the Roman and Greek empires and traditions which run thousands of years deep. It also has oil! Nuff said...probably the reason for the instability today. Yup, if all goes well I might be out of Africa and back in Europe by February. But then things really need to speed up.
Please do me a favor and tell someone about the Saga. I put a lot of effort into this, I take calculated risks, I work hard and have spent over $40.000 to get to where we are today. This project is not funded by the Red Cross. The money has generously been sponsored by Ross Offshore (www.rossoffshore.no). The project budget remains $20/day which covers food, transport, accommodation and visas. Everything else amounts to the rest: Insurance, repairs, medicine, nature parks, museums, equipment, unforeseen expenses etc. If this project was "only" getting to every country without flight, then the $20/day would hold up. But we're doing so much more than that ;)
Started running again! Yes, I can still smile. But oh the pain ;)

Best regards
Mr. Torbjørn C. Pedersen (Thor) - at your service ;)
"A stranger is a friend you've never met before"
Once Upon A Saga
Once Upon a Saga
Made by Kameli