I was able to charge my computer when I went to Sambava for my mandatory Flu shot and I also had to send in some Peace Corps forms electronically, so I decided, am able, to send in another blog post a little earlier than planned. We’ll see how the battery does on this crappy computer and maybe I can get a few more posts in the future. But enough explaining and whining from me.
As time passes by I have been cooking a lot more. I am on a real pancake bender at the moment and I am experimenting with all kinds of things that I can add in them. I have become so accustomed to eating rice here that not only do I eat it three meals a day, but my body craves it three meals a day! So, of course, when I started making pancakes I didn’t have my rice fix and although I was full, the pancakes were great, there was something missing…so why not add rice? That’s what I did. I have created this masterpiece of a carb loading breakfast. I take a regular pancake recipe, but add a table spoon of cocoa, a quarter or half of a banana (mashed), two table spoons of sugar and then left over rice. I don’t know how much rice I add, but I add it until it looks right to me ( I guess somewhat like a porridge) and then cook it like a pancake. It is was of the small pleasures that I’ve found so far, and it should last me a few weeks until I burn out on it like everything else that I tend to eat in clockwork routine. Another food discovery that I’ve stumbled upon has been peanut butter. It takes way too long to cook and then peel all of the peanuts, but it was really nice to have peanut butter. If only I could find a bagel…
Now to work…There was an Environment Festival/ Celebration in Marovato on June 5th. It was a very interesting experience. There were parades of people and then the masses walked around watching the heads of the community plant trees. I think overall it was positive that they planted trees. After, there were about 3 hours of speeches and although I didn’t understand a greater part of it, it sounds like there are people who really care about the Environment and want to help. Also, many kids want to learn English and because I care about the Environment, they care too. It is okay for now, but I only hope that they continue to care once I leave.
I started building a garden a while back and just started doing the work for the beds this week. Sadly, when people saw that I was doing the hard work for double digging the plant beds, my helpers diminished rapidly and people all over the community needed to return home. So I put in some serious gardening days and dug almost the entire garden by myself. It was good because I needed manure so I was constantly walking around and talking to people. Needless to say, my clothes were disgusting each day that I worked in the garden and I think I frightened some of the people who had never seen a white boy in filthy clothes carry a shovel and basket of manure through town. Hey, I’ll take any impression I can give them. I managed to finish the garden, although the planting was at a bad time of year and rushed on my part, so who knows if anything will grow. I also started a small tree nursery, where I planted Moringa, Tephrosia, Eucalyptus and Baobab. I think it will be very cool if I can get the Baobab to grow in the North of Madagascar. As for my clothes, I’ll need to use the bleach that I use for my water in order to combat the stains from the garden.
I had my first meeting with the English Club at the local high school. It started off much worse than I ever could have imagined, but so has been my teaching career so far. I didn’t really know it was just going to be an information giving session on my behalf so when the kids asked for me to teach them pronunciation I needed to explain that I needed a little more advanced notice if I were to just create sentences and come up with words that I thought they would have difficulty. Also, students kept trickling in and out so I ended up introducing myself about five different times. There is another meeting on Sunday so if anyone returns I will consider it a success. I at least will have more of a lesson plan created and plan to talk much more about the environment and less about sentence structure [my knowledge is limited in both and nearly non-existent in the latter].
I met a new contact in Andapa. He speaks English, which is a very large plus for me at the moment and has been living in Madagascar for almost 20 years. He was very hospitable to me when I stopped by his work/house and it is very reassuring to meet such helpful people as time progresses. I hope that each month I continue to meet more people in the communities that care deeply about the environment and know enough people that there opinions actually matter or carry some importance with the public.
As far as the mail goes, I don’t know if it is because I’m friends with everyone who works at the post office that it got here quickly, or that it took so long, but I received a letter from my mom on the night of June 7th. She sent it on the 16th of May, so it takes about 3 weeks for mail to get to me. Or at least that’s how long it took that particular letter to travel. I didn’t thin I would care much, but it was actually really nice to receive some snail mail, so if you ever get bored and want to send me something, go for it! I think my mom posted my address on my facebook wall, but if you want it just send me an email request. I sent some letters a little while ago, so a few people should be receiving things. Who knows, I sent a letter to my grandmother a long time ago, and as far as I know, it still hasn’t arrived. Another thing, I might not send as much letters as one might think I should only because sending a letter to the United States is more expensive than if I were to eat a meal at some restaurants.
For all those who care about the physical aspects winter and the dry season are on there way, or so I’m told. It will cool down every once and a while at night and pretty much every day it rains for a little while, so I’m a little concerned about the “rainy” season. I believe the count is up to around 12 days of rain, but it has been very short and the water level in the river is down. Beans are ready to harvest so I helped my counterpart harvest some beans. I enjoyed it because it was the first time that I had ever picked beans. Beans and rice down, let’s see how many other crops I can learn to harvest. I just hope we don’t get evacuated before mango season.
As I’ve become more settled in the day to day routine, I have more time to relax mentally and think about all of the odd things that I think about. Sometimes when I am locking up my house at night I think of the fire hazard that I am creating and wonder how many Peace Corps volunteers have died from creating an inescapable oven. I suppose I could always jump out one of my many windows, and besides, I don’t have electricity so that removes a large part of my irrational concern. War and Peace is moving along nicely. I won’t spoil it for those of you who haven’t read it, but it is getting juicier and juicier by the page. I will be ready for Days of Our Lives when I come back home. However, for those of you who have read it: the wolf hunting section has been by far the worst and most boring of the entire book. It must be something Russian or just a different era because I couldn’t even fake caring about it and I was just sitting alone in my room in the dark with not much else to do before I went to sleep. On another note, I woke up this morning with Art Brut’s song My Little Brother stuck in my head and I thought that I would share.
Now for the hardships…As time goes by I am getting more and more irritated about hearing how all of the other volunteers knew so much Malagasy and that I don’t, or that other people know so much. Obviously, it will take time, and it first it didn’t bother me because I was completely new, but it is a little aggravating. Once again, everything here will just take a little time. Another difficult thing for me is deciding on who I should be friends with, talk with and in general, hang out with. All the people I work with have been so protective of me that it is almost like there is paranoia when I meet a new person that they have some hidden agenda. I think that might be true for some people, but I suppose it isn’t fair for the people who genuinely want to learn English or be my friend. I suppose the big picture is that I can afford to lose some material things (knock on wood) if it ever came to that and the thought of that really shouldn’t hinder my helping and befriending those who are good. Regardless of how sketchy or weird someone seems, I never feel physically threatened and there is some reassurance in that. We’ll see what happens; it has only been a little longer than a month and I’m sure there is the potential for a lot of good and bad things to happen. Also, and much more importantly, the mice have become very brave lately and seem to be scurrying wherever they want and much earlier in the evening. I will need to find a container for my rice really quickly, as I am becoming tired of the mouse poop that I have to pick out before every meal…

Thought I would end with a nice mental picture. It’s not as bad as it sounds, or at least I’m use to it now.