Class offers adventure through photos of Africa, Madagascar

An adventure through Madagascar and Africa awaits students who take the next part of the World’s Wildest Places series by Coke Smith through Peninsula College.

Smith will focus on the animals, people and plants of the area, through the photo-essay form he has used in this series that has been offered each year since 2004.

He spent three months there last summer exploring with his wife, Som, and son, Cokie, then 6, and has more than 40,000 photos to use in the class

“This is really more than a traveler’s journal,” Smith said.

“In the series, I also go through the culture, the history and politics in the area.

“It is a complete perspective on what is going on both naturewise and peoplewise.”

One of his favorite portions of this class, which meets weekly beginning Jan. 13, will focus on the mammals of the area.

“There is such amazing biodiversity in Madagascar alone,” he said of the island off the southeast coast of Africa.

“We saw over 40 species of mammals and were really up close and personal — and all of them were wild.”

He noted, “There was one lemur that climbed on my wife’s head. It was in the wild, but was used to seeing people.

“It was awesome.”

Other animal experiences, weren’t so awesome — at least in the moment.

“During a safari, there was an area where you were actually allowed to get out, but there was a sign with a disclaimer that if you did and got killed, it wasn’t their fault,” Smith said.

“We actually got chased by a pride of lions.

“If it weren’t for the fact that the car was just a few yards away, I cringe at the fact of what would have happened.”

Politics also was a concern for some.

The family was supposed to go to Madagascar with a larger group but a political coup caused some to cancel, Smith said.

“Really, though, we didn’t notice anything related to that when we were there,” he said.

Another portion of the class will be about the people of the area.

“We spent a lot of time with the Himba people and the tribes in Madagascar,” he said.

“In the class we’ll talk about the native cultures and also the European cultures — such as the Afrikaners.

“It really is a wholistic survey of the cultures there.”

The class, which costs $59, will begin on Jan. 13 and run every Wednesday from 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. through Feb. 17.

It will meet at Port Angeles High School, Room 602, 304 E. Park St.

The class is offered through Peninsula College’s continuing education program,

Continuing education credits are available, Smith said.

To register, phone Peninsula College at 360-452-9277.


Reporter Paige Dickerson can be reached at 360-417-3535 or at

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