March 15, 2012
Manahoana daholo! (Hello all!)
So much has happened in the last few weeks I do not even know where to start, so if you have questions, please post them to the comments section!
I have been at my homestay for about 2 weeks now. I live with a family in a small village near the training center called Mantasoa, about 2 hours from the capital of Tana. The environment volunteers (15 of the 29 vols) live in the neighboring village of Anjojoro. There are a few small shops that sell various food and household items. We are given about $15 weekly to spend on snacks and phone credit and things, but none of us go through it. Things are very cheap here. To give you a comparison a bottle of coke is 700 Ariary, which is about 35 cents American. Fresh produce is readily available because so many people in the area are farmers.
My dad (Liva) is a butcher in town, so we have more meat than most families. My mom (Vero) is an adorable little woman and takes care of our 5 cows, 1 pig, and a whole bunch of chickens, as well as the 4 kids and housework.
I have 4 siblings. Lanja is the oldest, and I actually have now developed my Malagasy enough to find out that she is actually the daughter of my mom’s sister but she lives with us during the week because she goes to school close to our house. Oly is my oldest brother at 11. He likes to sit in on our language classes, which is really great because he makes me practice what he knows I learned later. Rajo is my 9-year-old brother and my official photographer. He has taken over 200 pictures with my camera. I love this because that means not only is it pictures of Madagascar by a Malagasy, but I am also in a lot of this pictures. I am planning to print a bunch in the capital to give to them at the end of my training. Ialison is the youngest brother at 5 and probably the most adorable thing in the entire world. He just walks around giggling and making weird noises and singing. He just makes me giggle all the time. He is also my little duckling, just following me around and demanding my attention. I have made a ton of bracelets with all of them and we play with the bouncy balls and coloring books I brought.
They have electricity but it sometimes goes out at night when everyone is trying to use it in town. They have a TV and DVD player, which they use to watch poorly dubbed American movies in Malagasy, as well as bootleg movies in French. We have watched Commando with Arnold Schwarzeneagger, as well as RETURN OF JAFAR AND MADAGASCAR 2!!! I got really excited about those. They were in French, but still exciting.
I try and spend as much time with my family as I can. I get up around 5:30 am and we eat breakfast around 6. The kids go off to school and I have language class at 8 am with 3 other trainees at my house because we have room. Then everyone comes home for lunch at noon and then I go to the commune in town for classes in English, such as tech training, cross cultural, ect. I get home around 5:30 pm and help with dinner and maybe play some games with the kids. We have dinner around 6:30 or 7 and then I go in my room to study or write things like this haha. Usually asleep before 9, and I am definitely the last one awake in my house. They all sleep in the same room because Peace Corps requires that I have my own lockable room. I think my room is the kids’ room when I am not here.
Nicole-rabies shots are not that bad, you baby :P but that is compared directly to the intramuscular typhoid shot which is evil.
Dad-food section just for you
Breakfast—at the beginning it was what we had for dinner the night before with the “wet” rice. Pretty much really soggy rice. I think they realized that I wasn’t a fan so we mostly have bread and butter and boiled milk with sugar.
Lunch and Dinner—rice. It is always rice and…And a whole lot of it. They eat mounds. It is the main course, and everything else is a “laoka,” or side dish. Sometimes we have beef or pork at lunch, and we usually do at dinner. This is usually cooked with beans or greens in a broth. There is a salad type dish that is usually carrots, cucumbers, or tomatoes always with onions, vinegar, oil, and a little salt. Today we had potatoes for the first time and I got ridiculously excited.
For desert after lunch and dinner there is always fruit. We have had apples, the best pineapple in the world, oranges, bananas and a fruit called “kaky” that I don’t think we have an equivalent of. It looks kind of like an orange tomato with a thin skin. It is very pulpy and sweet and has no pit. No idea though haha.
I stay here for another 2 weeks and then I am back at the training center for 6 weeks. We should find out where we will be placed in the country when we get back to the training center so just a couple weeks! Then we go on a “tech trip” to visit current volunteers and start learning regional dialects applicable to our service.
That’s all for now! Actually kind of a lot haha. Let me know if you have questions. Also I have a phone now and my parents know how to contact me, so get in touch with them if you need/want to.
Tiako ianao! (I love you!)