It’s been a rough two weeks. It seems as if all of the little things that have been happening over the past few months accumulated and then exploded in the background of my life. Yep, the background. Really nothing major has happened, no real arguments or breakdowns. It’s just that all of the little things that have been bothering me or correspondence with people just reached a level that really upset me. It’s been hard, but despite everything coming in from the outside, all one has to do is just keep going. And, for that reason, I’ve stayed busy, kept waking up early and getting out there and making sure, despite interference from others, that I do my job and I do it as well as I can.

It’s crazy to think that this Sunday will mark my three-year anniversary in Madagascar. March 3, 2010 was when my ‘Best Stage Ever Stage’ landed in Madagascar. We were 25 altogether and right now there’s only 3 of left on the island, including myself.

I’ve been here a long time. And in that time, I’ve put in a lot of effort. Albeit cliché, these past three years have been filled with blood, sweat and tears; but also a lot of smiles and laughs. I’m constantly meeting new people and thinking of new ideas and possible projects that could work over here. It’s really become my life and a part of who I am as a person. It’s work that doesn’t feel like work, but is just enjoyable and for the most part feels good.

That’s why, over the past two weeks, I’ve been a little down. I’ve felt like a lot of people don’t get it. I also am wondering if all of my hard work was a waste. Not only for how everything was done in the past, but how things might be done in the future.

I know I will not be living or working in Andapa by the end of May. That I know for certain, but where I will be or what I will be doing, I still don’t have a clue. I’m okay with that, not quite stressing about my future just quite yet, but I think that’s where some of the hardship and sadness comes into play. As it gets closer to me leaving, I realize that I have to say goodbye to a three-year chunk of my life and the people who have made this opportunity so great. On a positive note, I’ll get away from all of the negative people who are involved in my work. I suppose there is balance in the Universe from time to time.

Despite this sadness, I know that I need to move on, move onto other projects, other places, other people and other opportunities. Knowing this is the easy part, dealing with it and watching the direction that it will take without me in the future is what’s difficult. I can only hope for the best and know that I did all that I could. And even more so, I can only hope that those who follow me will some day feel the same and put in as much of themselves as I’ve put in for the past three years.

Despite the emotions, irritability and people meddling with projects, I still live my life as always and this is more or less what happened in the past two weeks. It’s been busy, but not a lot of variety, just the normal grind.

It was time for all of the students to get their trees from the Andapa nursery. It was a little embarrassing because almost none of the Acacia grew. I guess I found out that it really does need more sun and the location of the nursery just wasn’t ideal for the tree. That, and there were tons of bugs (possibly because of the shade), it was located in the city…and then you can never count out the problems that chickens cause. Hard to define a cause and effect relationship, but there was definitely a negative correlation from the area and number of Acacia that grew. However, the Tsara Ravina and Mandrorofo all grew.

But my embarrassment was the least of my problems. I needed the students to show up!

I was really worried at first. All of the trees were ready and all the students had to do was swing by the City Hall and pick up their share. They didn’t come. I started to think about trees and why the students didn’t want to get them.

All of these thoughts flew through my head as I sat on a porch, next to a bunch of seedlings waiting for the students that would never come to arrive and take their trees. As I sat there exhausted in the heat, squinting at the people playing basketball in the midday sun, these thoughts went through my mind:

First I thought, well maybe the teachers really are useless. Maybe none of the info was passed along or someone forgot and really I couldn’t blame the students, but those higher up on the food chain. What’s there problem? What can’t they get it together?…pretty sure the guy who just shot the basketball got fouled.

Second, I thought, maybe they just don’t care. This would be heartbreaking, but it would also need to be something that would need to be discussed should it be true. I suppose, a tree isn’t very sexy. It doesn’t really scream cool. I like planting trees and the thought of reforesting a hillside seems cool to me in many ways, but I kinda get it. You can really only look at a tree, for a really long time, until it’s time to harvest it. And then, even then, it makes furniture? Firewood? It has many applications, but doesn’t really give a lot of excitement. Whoo Hoo look at this plank! Yeah, even I can’t get on board with that…these kids must be tired because they aren’t making any of their shots…

It wasn’t until three days of more or less failure and thoughts running through my head that I realized (despite my asking all of the schools) there was a school holiday and none of the students were around. I thought it was a bit odd that I wasn’t seeing the masses crowding the streets. The teachers were only to blame because they are disorganized and the students like the trees, but vacation is more appealing.

So all of this, combined with me not constantly reminding everyone, led to the trees being moved around quite a lot, but we were finally able to send them all off to the students. And, despite it not being sexy, they were all really excited to get their trees. There wasn’t one negative comment from one student, which really surprised me as well. Why aren’t more people planting with students?!? I was even impressed by the organization of some of the student groups because they were planning to sell some of their trees to get money for the club. I think Madagascar is going in the right direction if the youth is organizing things that some of the adults can’t get together.

What’s left of the nursery was kind of a disaster after the students got their share and I shipped our share off to the Reserve so we could plant them. I spent an afternoon cleaning up the area and rearranging all of the plastic pots so that I could plant some things in the future. I still have some Aramy seeds and I’ll probably plant something easy like a fruit tree called Corosol. I hope to get a few trees grown in the next few months and then just give the trees to the students who participated in the program, the people at the City Hall who have been so nice and accommodating to me over the past few months that I’ve been working on their land, as well as take some for us to plant as well.

As far as our own trees and our own planting, well, it’s just become second nature. I keep telling myself that I’m going to be in really good shape by the end of all of this and just need to keep pushing through. Physically and mentally, the work and planning has been quite demanding, but everything seems to be running rather efficiently and trees are getting put in the ground. We are also incorporating more people to give more work as well as get things done quickly. It’s really been a learn as you go type of experience, but I think that I’ve worked out the kinks for the most part and I should be able to apply this knowledge to just about anything. If only I could control the weather, that would be pretty sweet…

The Ambodivohitra nursery was infiltrated by pigs. For a lack of better words, it sucked. The nursery has been a slight let down for the past few months because they really have just stopped working, but I think that because they haven’t abandoned it completely means they can still improve and keep going in the future; but they will need more structure. The pig destroyed a lot of trees. It sucked. Its sucks. Ugh.

With all of the planting, I haven’t been playing basketball. However, I do get to see all of the guys play for a bit when I have to pass out the trees. I really do want to keep playing, but I just don’t have the time. I don’t think it is an early retirement quite yet, so I’ll keep you posted on my miraculous come back in the next few weeks.

The Americans who will live in my house after I leave will have hot water. I’m just happy for the construction to be over. It has been endless hassles and wasted water and time, but the new water heater is in, the pipes are clean, and the leaks are closed up. Too bad it’s too hot to want a hot shower. I suppose this is something that a girl or someone who has hair would find more exciting. Maybe I can hand wash my clothes with warm water. That way it would be more like a washing machine? I’m trying to get excited about it! The other day the pipes were hot from midday sun and hot water came out anyway. I thought it smelled like wet dog. Not a real self esteem booster to think that I smell wet dog while I’m showering. No one said anything after I showered so I can just assume the smell passed.

I finished reading Spark and I feel like I’m set to use exercise throughout my life to help monitor my brain activity and mood. I’ve now moved on to a book called Going Solo. It’s about America’s shift to having more and more people live alone. I’ve always liked being alone and being social when I wanted to be, not having either forced on me, so it makes sense. I definitely think that I can be so social and outgoing with so many people here in Madagascar because I do have a lot of time alone. However, living in Madagascar was the first time that I really lived alone. I think once a person gets use to it that it really does have it’s advantages and going back to group living becomes a little less appealing.

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