We said goodbye to another PCV in SAVA. Her contract was up and so it was time for her to leave. It is sad anytime someone from the region leaves. We are so close here that you really feel it when the presence of someone leaves. However, the cycle is on going and we will receive two new volunteers to the area in May. The good news is that my site will get a new volunteer. The bad news is that I need to find a house in Andapa because my house will be occupied. I’m kind of excited to get a small change in scenery anyway…at least for the time being. The flooding went away without any real damage to my house. It dried up find and I can breathe again. It really destroyed some sections of our yard and there were lots of rice fields that had rice destroyed too. Obviously, the destruction to my yard wasn’t as big of a deal as people’s rice. Thankfully, none of the rice fields that I’ve been working in were damaged. However, now that 2 months have passed I can see the rice of the people who have been working hard and those who, well, haven’t really been working. All of the fields are in more or less good shape. I think I was working in some fields that were over planted and so the soil wasn’t in the greatest shape. Had I known that, I would have told them to use more manure. However, the biggest thing is that none of them seem discouraged. I even have some new farmers who are just doing it on their own, which is really exciting. That’s how it is suppose to work. They saw other people doing SRI and they decided to do a test plot of their own. In a way, those are the people that I know will change their practices because they took the initiative on their own. The student visits have continued. There have been minimal disturbances, which is nice. Each group has been completely different, which is both good and bed. As far as making a lesson it becomes difficult because I don’t really know what the students will find engaging. However, because the students are always different it doesn’t really get boring; at least not yet. The library is open and running even though we still don’t have a librarian. I’m still just spreading the word, but lots of people have started to pass through and we even have some regulars. It will be great if we can get some more books to fill the shelves, but I think we have enough for the moment. The tree nursery is going like always. I’m trying to get them onboard for next year so that they can help with a huge reforestation program for Antanetiambo. I need to figure out a way to present it so they feel like they are receiving enough and I’m not taking advantage of them. There is an NGO in Madagascar that is doing massive reforestation project in the area and they pay people to plant trees. I know this is a practice of many places in Madagascar. However, what if the funding stops? What if someone stupid breaks the rules and cuts a tree down that they weren’t suppose to cut? What if someone cuts a tree in order to feed their family? They seeds, plastic pots, and funding stop. Will they still plant trees? I don’t think so, and I think that’s the biggest issue with reforestation. On one half, there needs to be forest. The deforestation is so bad that maybe we don’t have time to wait for people’s attitudes and behaviors to change. However, on the other side, by making it purely a business, the people never realize the importance. In addition, by telling them that they can’t cut the section that they are planting seems okay now, but I think in 5 years time there will be many problems. Will they really pull the funding and the project if people break the rules? Either way, I think there will be some tough decisions to be made in the future with this NGO. I’d much rather just plant trees with people who understand the importance and therefore have ownership. They can cut the trees if they want because they’re their trees. And, I’m not worried if they cut them, because I know that they are willing to plant again. That’s where my stupidity comes in. Thankfully, someone did some research on one of the trees that we have in the nursery. Turns out that it is toxic to most mammals and especially lemurs. Obviously not the best choice to plant in a Nature Reserve or really anywhere. That’s embarrassing. So, we have only planted a hundred or so right now, but the nursery had a little over 1,000. I guess it’s time to rip up some trees. The silver lining in it all was the interaction that I had with the members of the tree nursery. Originally, I was going to tell them that they could still plant it on their hillside because they put in the work and they might not care. However, they were really concerned! They even volunteered that they should probably take out the ones that they planted and that they weren’t going to plant the ones that were still in the nursery. They totally understood the harm that the tree could do to wildlife and didn’t want to contribute to it just so they had some firewood. So, as upsetting as it is that I had a small part in destruction it was nice to know that the people who I work with get what we are all trying to do. And that’s why we aren’t merely co-workers, but friends. My finger nail on my left pinky has gotten pretty long. It is on the border of cool and disgusting. It’s starting to change color a bit because I’ll get dirt stuck in there every once in a while. I figure I’m going bald so it makes sense to mess with other parts of my body that still grow. I started running again. After my dad went back home I cut the bottom of my foot. Then the cyclone came. Then we had flooding, mud and bad weather. The days were getting a little shorter and the weather cooling down a bit. That’s when I realized that I was just giving myself too many excuses. So I set my alarm, work up earlier than I was, started my run while it still wasn’t quite clear out, and found the time. It feels good to run again. I ventured off to the countryside one day to look for the woman who can make merchandise for Antanetiambo. Of course, once I made the ride out there, in the rain, I found out she wasn’t there. However, luckily, a family member of hers found me and told me that she had already started working on it. So, I hope to go back next week and see if she has finished something. It’s nice to go for a bike ride from time to time, but an hour and a half, on a bad road, biking pretty hard, isn’t the most exciting if it becomes regular, or if they don’t work. I have built a cook stove in a while, but I visited the one guy who I taught how to make a transportable cook stove. I was so excited to hear that he’s begun to sell them! That’s just how it is suppose to happen! He’s mastered to stove and he sells them for different prices depending on whether the people supply the bananas that go into the mixture. He’s already sold about 5 of them, and I hope to get him going to make much more and possibly have a little stand. Finally, another volunteer enlightened me to the music of Santogold. If you don’t know her, you should listen to her. I know I am. I have not been sitting up straight or eating slow, so I’ll have to change that or 2012 will be an epic bust!