Paris.

We have all arrived safely and happily in Paris Charles de Gaulle, fulfilling many tourist photo opportunities in our kilts ☺️

Things are a little bit delayed here, but after an hour of sitting about on the tarmac we have all had lunch and are waiting for our next flight back to Scotland. After finding Moana on the first flight and after having a good sleep, we are all looking forward to getting back to our own beds and some comfort food (preferably non-rice based).

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We’re on our way

Just a confirmation that we are on our way to the airport (via some dinner) and will be taking off in the wee small hours of tomorrow morning.

For friends and family who are coming to collect young people (or us oldies), the hall at St Anne’s church will be open from 4pm. We anticipate being there sometime between 5pm and 6pm depending on bags and traffic and the like, but Craigalmond Scout Active Support will have tea and coffee on hand.

Thanks,

Leadership Team

Packed

It’s 7am local time on Thursday and we are packed and ready to head off for a day in Antananarivo. This morning we will be visiting the ambassador’s home, followed by lunch with our Malagasy scouts, and then a final goodbye to the projects we have been working on.

We will then head off for our final tea as a contingent before continuing to the airport to begin our long journey home.

See you all tomorrow!

Back to Tana

We are currently on the road way, way north back to the capital, Antananarivo. We have spent the past few days in the national park of Ranomafana, trekking through the rainforest to see some of their 12 lemur species.

We have also seen a number of amazing waterfalls, and some interesting plants, as well as various other animals.

Of particular note was one boisterous bamboo lemur who accidentally dropped his lunch onto the head of one of our young people, and then waited for it to be passed back up to him.

Tomorrow we will enjoy a last day in Antananarivo before we begin the long journey home.

We’re having a smashing time

We have now travelled further North, to Ranomafana National Park, after traveling for a couple of days South to see some ringed tailed lemurs [lemur catta]. While we were down seeing King Julian himself, we also saw lots of big spiders, geckos, and much to my delight, we were “followed” by a large bird of prey, which I think is some kind of black kite. I’m not going to say what I said when I saw said kite as it was mahoosive (that is an actual word).Today we spent the morning and early afternoon in the rainforest of Ranomafana, in search of red-bellied lemur [eulemur rubriventer], red-fronted brown lemur [eulemur rufifrons], Milne-Edward’s sifaka [propithecus edwardsi]. Other fauna that we found included a variety of small colourful birds that looked similar to birds of paradise. We found multiple geckos and chameleons, including the smallest type of leaf tailed gecko called the satanic leaf-tailed gecko, which gets its name from the devil-like horns on its head.

When we stopped for lunch today we were joined by a ringed-tailed mongoose, which was very cute. Thankfully it didn’t steal anyone’s lunch. We still have another day of trekking in the rainforest, which to my surprise, disappointment and relief it hasn’t been very rainy.

By Tom

Local wildlife

Today we visited the Anja Wildlife Park, where we saw a number of local wildlife, including hundreds of Ring-tailed Lemurs, as well as chameleons, iguanas, frogs, kites, spiders, crows and various other animals.

Tomorrow we will be continuing our travels with a visit to Ranomafana and hopefully seeing a lot more species of lemurs.

Our very own King Julian particularly enjoyed today.

Some of the local animals were a bit weird though…

Hammer time

I’m back! Yes I have been trusted to write another blog post. On Monday we had our last team swap and I went to AAF. As you may have heard from Doggo, the previous team were taking down the water tower stand (and it was putting up a fight!). We continued from where they had left off, widening the concrete channels already made, so that we could fit an angle grinder in to cut the rebar. We also dug one more channel, and after a morning’s hard work, we cut the last few bits of rebar and started levering the first bit of lid off the edge and soon enough the first bit of the concrete hit the ground (only 3 left to go).


I was really enjoying using the cold chisels, hammers and my favourite thing the SDS medium duty breaker with point or chisel fitted [Leaders’ note: Matthew works in the tool hire industry, it took us two days to realise this was the proper name for the hammer/demo drill we were using].

Lunch came as an unpleasant break as it stopped me from breaking things. By the end of the day we were three quarters of the way through the job & made the work area safe (both for us, and for the girls, as it was our route to the long drop toilet in the night). This meant I had to use the angle grinder to cut off bits of pointy rebar (oh dear another power tool) [Leaders’ note: Matthew, and all of the other participants were only allowed to use these tools under close supervision of Doggo].

As Tuesday morning broke we formulated a plan to get the final piece of this structure down. The first task was to clear our feet, as there was a big pile on the side of the tower of 3 bits of concrete lid, block and dirt. We created a human chain of Scottish and Malagasy scouts, working together passing the blocks to make a big pile out of the way. Then came the heavy bit, trying to move these bits of lid. This time it consisted of lots of lifting one side, flipping, rolling, and grunts to get the first one to the edge of the hill, and then let it roll down a wee bit, then a rinse and repeat for the second and third bit. Then it was time to tackle the final final bit. After some more grunting and power tools we had broken the back of this 3 day epic of a job & rapidly reduced the height of the tower to something that could be used by the refuge as place to wash clothes etc.

To reward ourselves for the work we had done we went souvenir shopping and had pizza which was nice (and rice free). We then returned back and had dinner (which was not rice free).

When we came back from dinner I noticed some of the girls trying to break up a bit of a bed for firewood – I wandered over just to see what they were up to and then recognising that I was CEO of Matthew Wilson Constructive Dismantling I was asked to help. which, under their direction, I did.

The next day was the wrap up of the project phase. When the bus arrived, we got our bags waved goodbye and started the walk up the steep drive. As I reach the top I looked back and gave a final wave. AAF had been a great project as we had spent our days helping to improve the girls’ environment. All these girls who were always happy and full of life and also learning and improving our own skills which we may need later in life.
Project stage had its high and lows but all in all its was an amazing experience and has provided me with skills for life.

Matthew Wilson (Milson)
CEO of Matthew Wilson Constructive Demolition

Off Travelling

We have now finished the project phase of our expedition, and have begun our journey south.

We will be stopping in a few places on the way down to Ranamafana National Park, before returning to Antananarivo to say our goodbyes and return home. You can see our schedule below.

Sam’s food blog; part deux

[Leaders’ note: shortly after Sam’s first blog, he was banned from entering any kitchen in Madagascar. This is for the health and safety of our entire contingent, and anyone within a 3 mile radius]

So following a minor setback due to my expulsion from the kitchen, I launched headfirst into exploration of Malagasy cuisine. I have noticed that our Malagasy Scouts appear to be trying to present us with more Scottish food. This primarily consists of serving us potatoes with our rice, and a dish that very much resembled bubble and squeak, if it had been explained through an extreme language barrier. We have also had some Malagasy cottage pie, which looked very nice to me, while I enjoyed the vegetarian option of a mashed tattie piece.

I thought that the Malagasy had the most sweet tooths of anyone I had ever come across – until we presented them with some home made Scottish macaroons, which they thought was much too sweet. Moreover, last night I witnessed Alex’s orgasmic expression as he drank a cup of condensed milk.

I have had the chance to sample more Malagasy tea. One interesting example of this was vanilla tea. This is undrinkable taken black, but best enjoyed with a small teaspoon of sugar. It’s more of a treat tea than an everyday tea. I’ve also found that green tea and condensed milk (or condensation milk as Matthew insists on calling it), although very sweet, is quite comforting, particularly in the cold weather we’ve been having recently.

I’ve been very pleased to try more Malagasy pastries. On several occasions we’ve been served a soft, custard filled pastry which Fisher says is creme patisserie. As well as some very, very, very dry cake which works quite well dipped into the chicory coffee, we have enjoyed numerous shallow and deep fried rice dishes. One was a bundle of rice stuck together, fried in oil. This came in sweet and salty varieties, both of which were yummy yummy.

On a few occasions at Akany we have eaten a dish that resembles boiled cabbage, although we have been informed that it is a local leaf, rather than the cabbage we are used to. Brian has quickly learned to excuse himself from the table when this is served. The resourcefulness of the girls is demonstrated in the way that his leftovers are fried into something not too dissimilar to a pakora ring and served as our 10.30am snack the following day.

One of the nights at Akany, there was much excitement when several jugs of green fluid were produced. Upon further enquiry this was discovered to be avocado juice which was quite pleasant, even if it had a distinctive smell.

On a few lunches and teas, the vegetarian option has been rice with a heavily favoured pasta. This flavouring has added a much needed dynamic element to the meals. Egg is often a participant in the meals. It comes in a variety of forms, boiled and chopped (although without salt water), scrambled, salted omelette, fried, and an interesting half scrambled dish which contained an assortment of chopped vegetables.

Today’s lunch was a cheeseburger in a brioche bun. As well as the regular burger patty, there was a meat that much resembled spam, chopped into slices. The vegetarian burger contained two different cheeses, one of which was a hard, salted cheese which had just enough self integrity to break up in the mouth without becoming an inconsistent mush. The second cheese was infinitely softer and resembled a cheese that had been slightly melted, although it was served at room temperature. This was a creamier cheese which was likely produced with a significantly lower rennet concentration.

Last Sunday we attended a fundraiser for the Tily AGM. This meal consisted of four courses, spread over an unusual amount of time. One of the main courses that I had was Croustade à la sauce Terre Mer. This was a small pastry covered in a cold, creamy sauce with slices of mushrooms throughout. These mushrooms were unusually tough and could have been mistaken for a foreign root vegetable. At one point in the night I won a raffle and was gifted with a cake. This cake was only slightly chocolatey and was most pleasant to eat.

Now we’re starting R&R it will be interesting to see what new food adventures await.

Doggo’s Blog


These humans look funny, they seem to change colour in the sun! ☀️
I’m loving all the attention I am getting with lots of cuddles and food, it’s like I have them right in the palm of my paw. They are a wee bit stupid though, every night I have to herd them like sheep to dinner, otherwise I’m pretty sure they would get very lost.

I’ve spent the day lying in the shade. Really don’t know how these silly humans work all day in the sun. They’re trying to knock down the old water tower – little do they know it is basically indestructible. Although I’m sure they will find a way as they seem to have destroyed more of Madagascar than they have actually built.

I overheard the talk of pizza again today so I think I’ll take them to my favourite pizza place this afternoon. This group of humans seem to have a strange craving for cheese.

I think my new humans like me a lot, I mean they’re even letting me write this blog post. I would love to come back with them but their country sounds rather cold and wet so I think I’ll just chill here for now.

Doggo 🐾