Million Dollar Baby

I haven't talked very much about it (or not at all), but next month I'm travelling Madagascar with my mom!!

I had a very "Madagascar" experience today while booking a portion of our travel.

Since the option to reserve/pay on-line is frequently unavailable, and I needed some help booking parts of the trip, I used a recommended travel agent.

The travel agent booked my mom and I the following:
- A night at La Pirogue
- Transfers from La Pirogue to the port
- Boat tickets from the port to St. Marie (like, a super amazing the island)
- Transfer from the port to le Libertalia
- Three nights at le Libertalia
- Transfer from le Libertalia to the airport
- Flights from St. Marie to Tana

All for the steal of a deal of ONE MILLION SIX HUNDRED THOUSAND AND SIXTY FIVE....Ariary.
(Works out to be around $850CD).'s a few dilemas
1. My travel agency only takes cash
2. The bank machine that I use dispenses a maximum of 400 000 Ar per transaction
3. It's not like...the smartest thing to carry over a million Ar around.

So, I called the driver, he came and picked me up and took me to the bank I normally use. Except, because it's Madagascar and it just happens this way, the bank machine is broken. So he takes me to another bank that only dispenses a maximum of 200 000 Ar at a time. Which means that I have to stand at the bank machine and take out ONE MILLION EIGHT HUNDRED Ar. Oh - and pay a fee of $5 CDN per transaction (I'm going to try and expense this?).

Instead of distributing 10 000 Ar notes like my bank of choice, this bank only distributes 5000 Ar notes.
This means that I have to complete NINE transactions and take out three hundred and sixty bills.

Because its MG, the bank machines takes a long time to read my card and there are people lining up behind me. The security guard standing to my right (who is all of five feet tall and ninety pounds) doesn't really make me feel any safer.

Since I'm ever so unprepared, I only brought my wallet into town.

Do you know how hard it is to cram 360 peices of paper into a wallet this size? It just isn't going to happen.
So I crammed as much as I could into the wallet. And then I ran out of room. And couldn't figure out what to do, and was getting kinda panicky because everyone is watching me take out copious amounts of money.

So, to "hide" my money, I did what any normal person would do.

I had on a tank top underneath a shirt, so I put my wallet and money and made a little pouch underneath my shirt with my tank top. I put my hand on my belly, and pretend that all of this money was my "baby" and that I'm preggo. I keep my hand on my belly as I continue to make transaction after transaction until FINALLY I have enough cash to pay the travel agent.

As soon as I finished getting money, I sprinted (with my hand on my million dollar baby - or rather million dollar airiary baby) to the SUV and told the driver to drive away fast!

We got to the travel agent's without incident. And then, both him, and I had to count out 1 665 000 Ar in 5000Ar notes. In his office, which of course, has no ventilation or air conditionning, even though its +31*C today. Because if the office HAD a fan or air would just make too much sense.

I love, love, love Madagascar. :)


  1. this is too funny and you can't make this stuff up! Glad your million dollar baby made it safely!
    love, mom

  2. There are countries that still take cash only on some transactions. When I travelled to Argentina, it was like that, only the rental company I got a service from to rent an apartment in buenos aires accepted credit card or cheques. Thanks god, also they gave me a great place to stay! I can´t complain! Anyways, make sure you take cash with you always when you travel!