What a day. We set out merrily to get our research visas. I was equipped with water, snacks, toilet paper, handi wipes, a Malagasy University/Zoo official (Rokiman)and a big 'ol Canadian smile.
On the way there, as we are zooming throughout the insane congested traffic, we see a man between two lanes of traffic. He is so hideously deformed by scoliosis/polio/and other debilitating bone disease, that he is actually a quadraped. It was completely shocking. He was begging for money without an inch to spare from cars zooming past.
We get to the "Ministry" (I have no idea what Ministry) and they tell us to go to the next building. The Malagasy don't do anything fast, so this takes a while. Once we get to the next building, it is locked. We go around the building and after a long-winded conversation, they tell us to go to room number 7. So we go and we wait at room number 7. We get inside and Roki talks and talks and talks (the Malagasy do nothing quickly) to the lady behind the desk in room number 7. In addition to the stacks of papers I already have, we need to produce many many documents (all stamped, of course) to apply for the visas, including 7 identical passport-style photographs, and a criminal record check. The photos I can get, the criminal record check, I cannot. In both Canada and the US, you must be finger printed and present to get a criminal check. The embassies or consulates cannot do it. The funny thing is that I brought a criminal record check with me when I came to Madagascar in 2005, but because they didn't ask for it, I didn't bring one again.
The lady from door number 7 tells us that if we can't get the record checks while we are here in Madagascar, then we will have to fly home to get them. She sends us away. Roki talks and talks and talks to a lady in another part of the Ministry, who keeps threatening to send us back to room number 7.
We leave, armed at least, with a list of all the impossible documents we must produce. On the ride back, with all the crazy traffic and clouds of pollution, I saw two small children (a boy about 5 and a girl about 3) raking though a pile of garbage. The boy was using a stick to sift through the rubbish and they were both picking out morsels and eating them. This was not a behind a restaurant or grocery store style of rubbish, but rather, stinky rotten putrid diseased garbage. It was their lunch.
We then stopped by the Zoo and got an impromptu tour of perhaps the saddest zoo on earth. I won't elaborate, but it is not a pleasant place to if you are a captive animal.
Last, we had a wonderful dinner of Indian food. Go figure.
I am exhausted. Night all...