I made it clear a while back that I could take pictures for people and they just needed to give me the money to print it and I would print there photo. As always, nobody believes anything until they actually see it. I finally had a woman give me the money and when I went to Andapa, I printed her photo at the shop and gave her the photo. Now, people are asking again, and magically, all of these people who always say they are suffering and don’t have any money, find money to pay for their picture. I’d rather they used the money for other things, but there are a lot of things that are a lot worse than spending money to print a picture. I won’t give them a boring lecture.

The best part is that a group of people in one community have always been kind of rude to me. They are mostly males, my age, who want nothing to do with me. I think they find me threatening, because I actually work as opposed to their weekly schedule of drinking, playing soccer, and sitting. However, this negativity might come to an end.

A man asked me if I chose who I take pictures of. I told him that I don’t take pictures of people who are rude to me. That was clear.

The next day, one of the above mentioned riff raff, passed by me while I was getting water and said hello. It just makes me wonder who wants the photo: him or his wife? I’ll obviously take the picture of anyone who asks, if I have the time, but I think it’s okay if not everyone knows that for a little while.

With the warmer weather the fireflies seem to be in lesser numbers. I always wonder why they like to drift into my house at night rather than just bouncing off the glows of their friends in the trees. I guess my gas lamp seems like one big hot mama fire fly and there must be a greedy firefly looking for something more.

A few nights later I was attacked by a swarm of frogs. Ok, probably just one, but he/she seriously just kept on hopping on me while I was trying to type. If he doesn’t watch out, I’ll step on him (unintentionally of course). Then, a week later, one decided to jump into my open water bottle and just chill; like that was his destination. Now, I’ve just accepted that they are part of the household. I’ve noticed probably three types of frogs hoping around and I’ll find them just about anywhere: cups, buckets, pots, baskets, towels, gunny sacks, or my favorite –falling/jumping from the ceiling right next to me to make sure I’m awake. I’m starting to think that the rats use to eat the frogs…

My CEG student plans are coming along. I started thinking about lesson plans and what would be the best things for the students to learn. I know I am going to put some fun games into the workbook (word search, maze, crossword, etc.), but I need to make sure it is worthwhile too. RABARY and I started putting together a lesson plan and seeing what would be good for students to learn. Right now we have a very general lesson plan that will need to be tweaked a bit as it comes along, but I think we’re already on the right track.

The weather was depressing for a while. I think only because I wasn’t ready mentally for clouds and rain. I thought that October was supposed to be sunny and dry and so when we had two weeks of clouds, rain, and a little bit of cold, it wasn’t really welcomed. I’m happy the sun has come out now. However, it is already starting to get REALLY hot. It hasn’t rained in a long time either, which means that I have to water my plants.

As far as the lifestyle changes go, I’m still trying to run. If it is really cold in the morning (or raining) I generally opt out of running only because I don’t think it would be too good for my overall health. In addition, I’m not really training for any purpose, so if I don’t really improve it isn’t the end of the world. However, with the little running I’ve been doing I have been getting faster and feeling stronger. I hope to be able to run a 10k in 40 minutes by the end of whatever running season I have here. I ran a 41:30 last week, so it is feasible. In addition, I’m trying to hold back on my yelling. I don’t go on any tirades or really attack anyone verbally. However, people sometimes shout inappropriate or ignorant things at me, and, at times, I respond to those comments; at times not being the bigger person. So, I’m seeing how things go and if I feel any better with myself and my interactions if I don’t yell back. It proved to be harder than I thought. When I first started I went one day and then failed two days in a row. With all of these things being recorded my journal now looks like a code book. It has the date of the journal entry, basic rain information, the kilometers that I ran and finally, whether or not I yelled at someone.

My work with the new guardian of Antanetiambo is going along smoothly for the moment. I’ve been looking at the maps that he has started to draft and give him suggestions or let him know if something isn’t correct. I think we might have a workable map in a few weeks, so that’s exciting. He has been keeping the log with lemur sighting as well. It’s amazing how much can get done when people do what you ask of them. Everything else with the Reserve seems to be moving frustratingly slow at the moment. However, we just finished a really big land contract near the Reserve and I think it will be a perfect place for the students to reforest when they visit next year.

The tree nursery work has continued and we got to our 1000th plastic pot! For the most part they seem to be growing and we won’t have to replace many of the pots with new seeds. This year we are only working one day a week, but I think we are more effective. I still hope to get 2,000 by January 1st and possibly 5,000 by the end of April. However, it will have to depend on manure and the motivation of the group. Also, once the holidays come around working will inevitably slow down. And, as always, when drinking is involved there always seems to be some other setback that stops work (fights, stealing, couples separating, etc.). Reality TV just needs the world to learn Malagasy.

A few weeks ago we had our volunteer meeting in Andapa. It was nice to share Andapa with the other volunteers. I’m sure the town was really weirded out with 13 white people running around. However, it was great to be a Vazaha for a bit and just be like a tourist in Andapa for a bit.

My village had their soccer final that I went to watch. It was a pretty brutal match as far as spectators go. Anytime a goal was scored the whole crowd would run on the field, celebrate and people would taunt the goalie. However, it was fun to watch it all unfold from my spot in the shade.

Most recently we celebrated All Saints Day in Madagascar. It’s funny because they have two days off to visit the cemetery (in case a person needs to visit two places). However, a majority of people are in the same place, or only visit one, so they just party it up one day and then visit the cemetery on November 2nd.

I went last year, but this year was a whole lot better. I was so much more comfortable with everything. There was nothing to feel awkward about. I knew lots of the people, I knew what was appropriate and I know the language. There were a ton of pictures taken as well and it was great to feel a little less like a visitor this year. I don’t want to sound crazy, but I really felt like there was an energy flowing through the cemetery. I don’t really know how to explain it, but I knew that it had left when it was gone. Pretty cool.
I’m still reading “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.” I really like it so far. I remember that my 3D Design teacher in high school told me that I should read it. I know I’ve changed quite a bit from the person I was my senior year of high school and so I wonder what it is about the book that made him suggest I read it. Regardless, I’m getting to it now and I enjoy it. I think now is a pretty good time in my life to be reading it as well.

I’m now on an endless search for quality…

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