My face has been oily lately. I thought I might be getting sick, but a few weeks have passed and still no sickness has taken it’s hold on me. My diet hasn’t changed and I don’t have any more stress than the needless stress that I cause myself on a regular basis. That can only mean one thing: the doxy is no longer useful for anything other than malaria. I’m immune to antibiotics. I’m a mutant.

Doxy is my malaria prophylaxis that is the cure for a lot of other things. It really is a wonder drug/antibiotic. Some people have taken it to cure acne in the past. However, when most people take the drug, they don’t take it more than a few months. Depending on my exact departure date, I will have taken this pill for 27 months – everyday. I think I’m now at the point that I am not a superhuman mutant. I don’t have any cool powers, a state of the art vehicle, awesome costume or a much needed arch nemesis. I just have a weakened immune system that has become reliant on an antibiotic.

But this realization that I’m even less superhuman than I already was, got me to thinking about what super powers would be useful in Madagascar. I composed a mental list, no doubt during another meal by candlelight, and the powers that I conjured up were as follows: super strength, flight, invisibility, weather control, and teleportation (yes, I know I just ripped off x-men). Here’s why I chose what I did…

Strength!
I’ve been working with a lot of rice; it’s been 4 months now. If I had superhuman strength I could obviously get to working on more rice fields and help more people. I would just kick the ground and it would magically be ready for planting. I’m sure being freakishly strong would come in hand at other times in life as well.

Flight!
Because the Peace Corps budget is what it is, I will only be flying to Tana once, rather than twice. I would have really liked to have the two spaced out flights for training other volunteers, but that is no longer going to happen. I will skip the regular training session for trainers and just visit Tana once. If I could fly, I could lie to Peace Corps, pocket the money from the flight and then just fly myself. I would need to purchase some goggles though.

Invisibility!
This isn’t work related. I’m just tired of being different. Not really different, but exotic. I don’t want to be the subject of conversation or the center of attention. I would rather just blend into the background and live my life. That is pretty much impossible being white here. I’ll just be walking or riding my bike and people constantly say, “Look! There’s a vazaha!” I don’t mean this in a depressing sense like it’s eating at my soul; I just don’t like being looked at…all the time.

Weather Control!
Is there a better word for this? Saying weather control doesn’t really sound that super. However, Storm, seemed to really kick ass all the time, and one could do a lot of positive things if one could control the weather (besides defeating evil-doers). Going back to the rice, we could plant whenever we wanted and I could control the water flow to be exactly how I wanted. Also, cyclone season is now upon us. It means I’m forced to leave my phone on for updates and lose the charge (maybe a request for another super power?). Andapa is more protected than other places on the East coast, but it is still something to be aware of. I will need to prepare my house with rope or sand bags, so if one does come, it’s not too late. Or I could just control the weather and remove any danger. It would be much simpler. But, to my dismay, I don’t have the power yet, and so I must wake up at 3am to my house shaking violently and wondering if it would be better if my roof flew away or if it collapsed on me. I’d be wet with the first, but possibly dead with the latter. I really don’t like wet clothing. Thankfully, the cyclone missed us and this dilemma never played into effect.

Teleportation!
Why not?

So that’s where I want to be. Maybe the doxy will help me get one of these powers, but I really doubt it. I’ll probably just get really sick when I go back to the states because of all the bacteria. I can’t imagine all of the processed food will help either. However, I’m not the cleanest person here, so I’m sure I’ve been giving my self a healthy dose of bacteria to keep everything in balance. And I wasn’t joking about the cool costume. Right now, I look a little to casual. I’m not sure I need the tights look, but I do need something flashy. I’ll just keep it in my closet until the time is ready. Maybe a Malagasy wedding?

So, back to real life, I am back to the enormous headache of the water project. I seem to get new information all the time and I wish people weren’t so sketchy with me. It really comes down to the fact that everyone in the entire commune screwed this one up and so now, everyone is pointing fingers at everyone else. I get to play janitor. However, we made some big pushes; I met with a lot of people, mayors and passers by who seemed to be experts in everything of course. And, of course, after telling people how to do something, them not listening, me watching them fail, and then repeating how things should be done, we can now get water to the other side of the bridge. The other difficulty is that I don’t know how to speak Malagasy…I’m mean French. All of the plumbing materials and vocabulary are in French, so there is a bit of a language barrier at times. In addition to this language problem, there seems to be a lot of thieves as well. Two of us were fixing some piping for 2 minutes, during a rainstorm, and a person swooped by the bridge and stole the pipe cement. Also, at night people have stolen the metal fastening to keep the pipe near the bridge. A friend of ours passed by and his response was basically, “It’s 2011, dude!” He’s got a point. It seems the thieves have developed with the times. As for exclaiming that it is 2011, I can only say that on a daily basis I wonder if I’ve gone back in time and am living in the 17th century.

I’ve continued my reforestation efforts in Antanetiambo. My counterpart has had some bursts of energy and has really been helping get a bunch of trees planted. Obviously, I need to share all of the trees with the other people who work in the tree nursery so I can’t plant a ton in the Reserve, but we are reaching close to 100. Sadly, when we went one morning to plant trees we must have spooked a thief, because at the base of the hill were two bunches of bamboo, freshly cut, tied and ready to be hauled out of the Reserve. I really don’t know how to stop the thieves. We are going to build a guard house and get a guard, but I am not sure if that will really help. It’s just frustrating.

I finished reading The Counterfeiters as well as Into the Wild. Both were really good. The Counterfeiters started out a little slow for me, but really picked up. It was great to read a novel from the prospective of an author writing the book. As for Into the Wild, I loved the movie and I thought the book was still better. I obviously don’t know the truth about anything, but I felt the book was more accurate and sticking to what facts there were and less about making a desirable story. However, instead of dissuading me, it almost made me want to go into the wild for a while too. Not forever, but for a while. Experience all the companionship of people until I get sick of it and return to the peacefulness of solitude. Somewhat similar to my work and life at the moment.

But of course, to have ideals of living off the land, escaping consumerism and money would difficult for me, because I have too many schemes in my head. The latest, a bag and clothing line. Yep, Nick Reed-Krase; Malagasy fashion designer. It all started with my counterpart telling me that her daughter needed a backpack. I disagreed, but said she should just use a gunny sack. She laughed, even though she knew it made sense. However, I got to thinking and then to work and put together a pretty kick ass backpack all made from a gunny sack. I showed her, and everybody loved it. She then made one herself. Hopefully, she keeps it going and really does end up selling them. I think people will buy them. My next endeavor is to make a rain jacket/poncho from the same material. Those should sell like hotcakes!

In addition to my own creativity, my friend, who is a painter, approached me about how he might be able to sell his art. Before the conversation, I didn’t know that he did any creative works. I thought he just painted signs and things for other people and businesses. So first, I told him that I needed to see something original and then we could talk more. If it’s good, I hope to get a website going for him, bringing tourists by his house and hopefully support the creative arts in this country. Sometimes I feel like I’m surrounded by robots.

But the robot people have worn off on me. During the stormy weather, I didn’t really feel like working outside in the afternoon, so I started to form my own Malagasy dictionary. It involves me going through the dictionary that Peace Corps gave me and writing down the words that I think I need to know. I’ve finished through the letter “f”, so we’ll see how long it takes for me to remember a majority of the words. The best part is that I can listen to other people talk and maybe understand, even though I never use the vocabulary. Maybe by the time my mom comes to visit me in June I will be able to speak Malagasy. Regardless, I’ll know more than she will, so I’ll take any victory I can.

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