Hello my friends! Welcome to my second edition of Flashback Friday. Today I wanted to post a very special picture. I had the opportunity to visit the wonderful country of Madagascar a few months ago. I was lured to Madagascar by tales of raw and untamed wilderness, friendly and ethnically diverse people, and, of course, dancing lemurs! What I found there was just this, but so so much more. It was a place I felt like I could stay for years without even scraping the surface of discovery. The capital city itself was crazy, busy, crowded, but in its own way beautiful. What I found to be the most interesting thing about Madagascar was the Malagasy people. It was the first country I have ever been to where the people actually enjoyed and loved having their pictures taken! Every time I raised my camera groups of people would assemble and display the most beautiful smiles. They were proud of who they were, their culture, their city. I found this surprising…and inspiring, despite the sad and frustrating situation they found themselves and their country in.  Malagasy people are incredibly strong and have enduring spirits. This is the reasons I fell in love with Madagascar and the reason I will continue to return.

On the day this picture was taken, I had the pleasure of going on a city tour with a local Malagasy friend of mine. The day was warm and comfortable, the sky a piercing blue. As we walked along a long river embankment I watched hundreds of women tediously scrubbing and washing their clothes with their children helping them by their side. You can see the colorful clothing drying in the sunlight in the background of this picture. I was touched by the colors, the beauty, and simplicity of this scene. As I marveled at the local women, a little girl playing in a ditch suddenly popped up in front of me.  I squeezed off a haphazard shot from the hip and was almost certain I had missed it. It was not until later I realized the incredibly beautiful smile she was wearing. Immediately after she saw me she became shy and tucked back into the side of the enbankment. I said a few words in Malagasy but was unable to coax her back out. I will never forget that beautiful little girl. Every time I look at this picture I am touched by her smile and her youthful spirit. This is how I remember Madagascar: a genuine kindness and innocence despite a background of hardship.

Thank you for reading and I hope wherever you are this holiday season you are surrounded by loving family and friends!

Until next time, travel well and travel often!