Writing on a French keyboard on a slow computer, but I have internet finally (though just for an hour)! The other volunteers and I are on a 'tech trip' right now, traveling to other project sites for a week to get ideas for how projects could work in our areas. I'm writing from Tamatave on the East coast and it's about 95 degrees.
So much to cover, I barely know where to start! The experience has been good so far, I'm enjoying it. I'm learning two Malagasy dialects, Standard and Sakalava. Learning fast but not nearly fast enough for my taste of course! Mail service has been more regular than internet, so if you want to send me a letter, it might be quicker than emailing. And I promise to write back-mail from Madagascar!
Our days at the training site are split between language and 'tech' sessions; in the past week we built a garden for a family in the community and learned how to germinate rice. The program has been taking a sensible approch as to our role in the community, stressing that we are there as faclitators and resources rather than experts. This approach allows us to work with the community and advocate for them with NGOs, rather than telling them what to do.
The food has been, as Mom wrote, very rice-centered. I'd estimate three mixing bowls full is consumed by my 4 person family every day. We mix it with a bean or veggie side-dish. Occasionally, we'll have fried bread or fried bananas for breakfast. Fruit for dessert; persimmons, apples, pears, chinese guavas, sugared avocados, or pineapple. The weather has been between 70 and 80 in the highlands and it rains for part of every day. Much hotter here on the coast of course!
Some quick notes:
- I've seen quite a few chameleons! There are lots of species here
- I scrub my floor every day with my feet, using half a coconut shell. Kills bugs and lifts dirt.
- Malagasy families do not go out after dark. Depending on who you ask, this is because of witches, vampires, or rabid dogs.
- To deal with being in after dark, everyone has a po, which is a plastic chamber pot. Very useful.
- We've visited two national parks, and were able to see some indri, which are the largest lemurs in Madagascar. They look a bit like black and white teddy bears with long limbs, and bound from tree to tree.
- Once I get to a better internet connection, I promise to upload pics and much more info on where I am and what I'm doing. Til then--