Subject: Barefooting in Madagascar
So my barefooting has pretty much been limited to running – my work isn’t really conducive to barefooting. But I recently moved to Madagascar, and have done a few runs as I recover from a tendon injury. In spite of the fact that probably 10-15% of the people I see here in Antananarivo are barefoot, I get a lot of stares and giggles, because generally the people who are barefoot are those who can’t afford shoes. So someone who is clearly a foreigner is out of place going barefoot by choice.
But this weekend I went out to a lodge near the rainforest, built in a rural community that benefits from the proceeds of us much wealthier outsiders coming to visit. And I spent pretty much the whole weekend barefoot – and it was awesome. One day I did a hike through the rainforest – 3-4 miles involving about 1000 feet of climbing in total, and then we went to the village where there was cow poop and chicken poop and mud everywhere, and everyone was barefoot, and not a single person stared at my feet.
But I will bet it was the first time a white tourist came to their village barefoot instead of wearing giant hiking “clogs” from REI.
We hiked back down the road, which was generally red pasty mud (it drizzled all day) and then through the rice paddies, on the little raised paths covered in mud and grass and cow poop (!) that separate the paddies. About 7 hours barefoot.
But I have a nasty, silver-dollar-sized bruise from when I accidentally stepped on a small sapling stump that was poking up on the hiking trail.
It’s expensive to get here from just about anywhere, but I’m happy to report that Madagascar is a barefoot friendly destination for those who are interested.