Water Wars – that’s the name of the new hit show that will be on all the major networks this next fall. They started filming the first season a few weeks back but I didn’t mention it because I didn’t want a bunch of pirated episodes to be surfacing. However, it just doesn’t make sense to keep a good thing back for so long, so I’ve decided to alert the public and let the hackers find all the episodes they want.

Imagine a reality show that is the king (or queen) of reality shows. It’s Jersey Shore meets Survivor meets Dirty Jobs. It takes place in my village and we just let the drama unfold. Some of the main characters include, witches, thieves, prostitutes, the player, the religious people, the Drunk and many more.

Basically, it is just a show about all of the people that live in my area. How they are effected by the draught-ish weather and how they seem to bicker and fight about the water in everyone’s rice field. The first season (still in production¬) will cover the lives of the people and all of the bickering that goes on.

Okay, so none of that is really true. Except that there is a draught and that people are fighting over the water. I really have no interest in the arguing, I just show up and work. The amazing thing is that one can see that not everyone is willing to do what it takes to have a good harvest. The people who want to have water manage to find water, those who don’t put in the effort and self-proclaimed sufferers. We’ve had a string of rainy days and so I think some of the fighting might stop…until the rain stops in October. However, the rain we’re having might be too late to make a difference.

My bed has gone completely Frankenstein. I got a new mattress in June and it went bad so quickly, I’m quite impressed that the other mattress (which was cheaper) lasted about a year. I think my bed boards just suck to the extreme and I might have done too much damage by not fixing them (in my defense they seemed strong when I tested it out). So, I got my machete and I cut a strip out of the old mattress. After that, I placed the strip under my old mattress – only in the middle of the bed. I now sleep on the top of a hill. Pretty sweet, I’m king of the castle! But all kings are overthrown or die eventually. I decided the new bed situation wasn’t good and cut my castle down. It now has a small sliver in the middle that helps a little, but still sucks.

The chronicles of Mito continue on a daily basis. He has quit crying and is a pretty sweet dog. He does wander a lot. I’m only worried about the wandering because I don’t know if someone will come by and steal him. Once he gets bigger, it shouldn’t be a problem. He eats a ton (maybe too much¬¬) and is quite the fat little guy. It’s amazing how much a little bit of food can change the willpower of a dog. He can stand up to some pretty big dogs just because he’s been fed and the other ones haven’t been eating regularly. I’m happy for him, but that’s sad for the other dogs. He’s learning to sleep in the kitchen and not to come in my house. However, he still needs to work on his listening… I think I can go to bathroom without any assistance.

We had more cow problems. It was already night and some cow wandered onto the property. On his path to my house he trampled some beans and then while I chased him out he seemed to destroy some other stuff. I grabbed a stick and walked the cow home (I didn’t know where its home was, but it new the routine) and then spoke to the owner. The owner and the kid who was supposed to take care of the cow came back to our house the next day. We ended up having a long meeting and made a letter stating that now cows will be allowed to enter our property. If they do, they will pay my counterparts 10,000 Ariary within 24 hours or my counterparts own the cow. We did this with one farmer a while back and the problem stopped immediately. I can only hope that we get similar results in the future.

I went to Antalaha to collect some seeds for our tree nursery. I woke up around 5am and started thinking about how I really hoped that the people at the taxi brousse station wouldn’t try to tell me that the price went up. Then I got this great idea to just bike to Sambava – 115 kilometers. So that’s what I did. I collected all of my things, ate a quick, small breakfast and then hit the road. I stopped five times altogether: twice to fix my bag, twice to eat something and once to urinate. Amazingly, my beat up mountain bike made it through the whole thing without any major problems, I was wearing sandals of course and I didn’t lose any of my baggage that was tied onto the back of my bike. I did the whole thing in a little less than six hours, not a great time, but fun nonetheless. I think sometime in the future I will try to bike from Andapa to Antalaha. However, I’d rather wait until the weather is cooler. Once in Antalaha, I collected a bunch of seeds with another Peace Corps volunteer and then headed back to site – by vehicle.

I then spent a full day preparing seeds. My house was an entire mess, covered with seeds, bags and dirt. I managed to sort out about 2000 seeds. I had to peel a bunch of them and then sort them out when they were mixed together. My thumbs were sore at the end of the day from doing all of the peeling. I will meet with the group next week to map out a plan for the next month. I already spoke to the PLAE office in Andapa and they said they could provide the plastic pots for our nursery so I don’t need to worry about that.

A few weeks ago I cleared a bunch of weeds, thorns, wild tarot and brush in general. Last week I finally got around to cleaning the area up nice. Once it was all in order, I dug 15 holes and planted 60 sugar canes. Hopefully, they all grow. The best part about sugar cane is that is ready in 6 months, so I will be able to eat it before I leave Madagascar. The other reason it’s good is because my counterparts are total coffee addicts and go through a ton of sugar. Maybe they’ll be able to use the water from the sugar cane instead and won’t need to buy sugar in the future. That’s the idea.

I had a meeting with a women’s group in Ambodigavo. I met with the entire group of about 30 people and talked about different things that they might be able to make for Antanetiambo Nature Reserve. I ordered a few things and I should be able to see what they have for me in a month or so. They make some really good things so I’ll try to talk to people in the bigger cities in SAVA and see if they are interested in buying any kinds of merchandise that would be good for tourists; or Malagasy people who want to buy something nice.

In the world of rice (other than the water wars) nothing new is going on. I’m around and helping people keep on schedule with the weeding. I think the rice was a little slow to start but should turn out really good now that the weather is starting to warm up. The biggest problem is keeping people on task. They either have other things that come up or they sometimes are just lazy. The worst part is that it seems like there have been a lot of funerals in the past few weeks. There’s nothing I can really do about that, when a person says they can’t weed a field because they need to go to a funeral.

I built my first cook stove in the past few months. It’s amazing how good I’ve become at building them. I automatically know when the mixture is good, what needs to be done and me with only one other person can pump one out in about an hour. Judging from the people that I’ve been talking too, I should have another wave of cook stove building in the near future.

A while back the group of volunteers in my region made t-shirts. It says “VAZAHABE” on the front and then “TANDREMO!” on the back. It’s basically just a joke. The front means foreigner, but with the “be” means either large or very. The back means be careful. I finally got around to wearing it (I didn’t want to ruin it in a rice field) and everyone loved it! That’s how I really know that I’m settled and more or less accepted here in Matsobe. When people can joke with me about pretty much anything. There were even a few people who said they wished they had it as a shirt.

I finished reading “Out of Africa”. It wasn’t that good, but I managed to get through it. It did have a few points that I could relate with while I’ve been living in Africa. Some of her views are a little dated and some comments could be considered ethnocentric and that made some parts difficult to get through. However, I’m sure living in Kenya in the early 1900’s is much different than Madagascar in 2011.

It wasn’t until I had a few plans cancelled that I realized how stressed I’ve been the passed few weeks. I really have a lot going on right now. It’s great, but I’m going to need to watch out that I don’t try to do too much. I have five rice fields, tree nursery plans, cook stoves, and planning my Dad and Abby’s visits to Madagascar. I’ve been a little irritable the past few weeks. On the plus side, my Malagasy has gotten pretty good – I can be a dick in Malagasy. With the two days to relax, plan and organize I think I should be in a better mood.

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