For the next few days, we are in Antananarivo, the country's capital and largest metropolis.
In calendar days, we consumed most of a weekend (if you ignore time changes for the moment), but we made it successfully to the Great Island. Factually, we were traveling over 32 hours from door to door, with 24 of those hours in the air on 3 flights.
In terms of size and scope, the "Tana" airport is much less daunting than Paris but it is also much more foreign so is daunting in it's own special ways. Despite being the main airport for the country, the Tana airport is pretty small by US standards. It felt similar in size to the Monterey Airport in CA or most small regional airports. But where these days in the US you generally meet incoming travelers at the curb, at the Tana airport, everyone is waiting as a mob outside the door.
Once off the plane, we got to push our way through the mob of passengers to get to the police stamping our visa. After getting our luggage, we got through customs with no scratches. It amounted to getting our passports checked a few times by military-looking folks and then escaping. The most daunting piece was exiting the airport proper. Consider what it would be like for a major pop-star to step out into a public street where fans are already waiting. That's the sense as you leave the airport, with a mob of folks waiting outside. Many folks with signs to find various passengers but also lots of begging children and adults there to take advantage of unsuspecting tourists like us. Although we managed to get out safely (very glad to have had someone to meet us from the tour company), we did immediately get assistants who helped with our bags without any request. Of course, they wanted much compensation, before we understood the local economy or currency.
A quiet drive past patties filled with watercress (since it isn't rice season) got us to the hotel (Hotel du Louvre) by midnight or so, just in time to crash before our morning tour of the old city.