Have to run, but for your amusement, one of the most popular music videos right now--Azafady by Lola. I have titled this post Malagasy Hollywood because I have yet to see people or beaches who look like this. But it's a catchy song!
Friday, July 16, 2010
First: Mail! I got packages at my Sambava address! Awesome. Will email if I got one from you. One took less than 3 weeks to get here! And--people gave me the wrong postal code for Sambava, the 208 code that is now in my contact info is the correct one. But don't worry if you put 205, things have been getting to me fine; I'm not even sure if they look at the codes.
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
So I was walking down the street Sunday and was stopped by the middle school chemistry and French teacher (the same person)--"There you are! Why haven't you visited me yet?" "I don't know where you live..." "Well, come on!" So we walked about 15 minutes up the dirt road to his place, where I awkwardly smiled at his wife and daughters and drank some Bonbon Anglais (Bubblegum soda, about as good as it sounds). At one point, he leaned forward and patted my hand. "You come here any time and visit your Malagasy mother and father." He and his wife, concerned that I was too skinny, sent me home with bananas and cassava (healthy and wealthy people should be fat, of course, this is Africa). If you don't know what cassava is, don't worry, you're not missing much: it looks like a potato, tastes like nothing, has virtually no nutritional value, and is one of the most popular foods in Africa. Happily, I have a recipe for cream of cassava soup, thank you Peace Corps cookbook!
Later Sunday evening, my counterpart picked me up to escort me to the World Cup final, which the (female!) doctor at the hospital had invited us to. So I watched Spain beat the flourescent-orange Netherlands with the vice mayor, (3 person) hospital staff, and commune school director--nice to be around people who find white people mildly amusing rather than endlessly fascinating!
Yesterday morning I found my favorite local dessert at the weekly market (the Gasy version of peanut brittle) and did some yard work (with a machete). Had to watch my step with the chores because some of the neighbors have been posting their cows in my yard. They're not supposed to, but I guess I'm not using the grass, and I get readily accessible manure from them, good for soil improvement projects. More importantly, nothing keeps the kids away from my windows like a feisty bull.
The mayor stopped by in the afternoon with a funding request to the American Embassy that he wanted me to sign and send. They referred to me in the letter by title, or rather by what they think my title should be: Mademoiselle Corpeace. The letter detailed 10 projects, with an estimate of how much they would cost. Good, right? Except the projects included a sports center, a tourist information center, and an agricultural research center. And the total amount requested was about 80 US million dollars. I didn't know whether I felt like laughing or crying...between the economic and political crisis, most governmental development aid to Madagascar has been pulled, and (without being too pessimistic) I think I'll be lucky to fund a few wells. I smiled vaguely and told him I'd look it over.
Last night there was a disco--a big twice monthly event that takes place about 100 feet from my house and goes until 5 in the morning, without exaggeration. It actually isn't too bad. While I cooked, I listened to the Voice of America request hour and wondered again why so many PCVs from Zambia call in. One of the other volunteers in my region keeps track of how many days in a row he gets rain (I think the current record is 12?), while I keep track of the number of times there's a VOA request hour in which someone DOESN'T request a Michael Jackson song. So far, 2 in 2 months. Not that I mind MJ, but my god, the world is obsessed.
This morning I had to wait a bizarrely long time for a taxi brousse. One of the men from town decided I needed help hailing one once one did come along, though let me tell you, a 5-10 blond has NO problem getting a bush taxi to stop in this region. Once one did stop--a station wagon--the driver fit 18 people in. Allow me to clarify. When I say station wagon, I AM referring to the Western idea of a station wagon, which in the U.S. seats 5. How did the driver fit 18? Well, I sat in the passenger bucket seat with a mother and her baby, the driver had a teen seated next to him in HIS bucket seat whom he had to reach over to shift, there were 4 people in the "trunk" space, and 4 people sitting in the 3 person backseat. And 4 people sitting in the laps of those people. And one guy sitting on top of those 4, with his chin jammed into the driver's headrest. So if you were ever wondering how clown cars worked.
Workwise, nothing too exciting to report. I got tentative permission to do a world map mural, but will have to wait for school exams to finish. I planted some avocado trees. I wrote 15 pages of a community report and analysis, for which I've been doing a good amount of research and interviews. And I started a (very small) moringa tree nursery. If you haven't heard of moringas, they're pretty cool--nutritious leaves and fast growing, so good forfood, fencing, and firewood. More info here. And also, there's some info about my community partner's work in Madland here.