July 28, 2012
Happy first day of the summer Olympics 2012!
To be fair, I hadn’t been keeping track of when they started, here is the story of how I not only figured it out, but got to watch one person I know and two people I know of swim today J:
So, it all started on Wednesday, which is market day in Miarinarivo. I usually go before 8 to visit Adalene (I actually have no idea how it is spelled), the wife of my point person with my silk weavers, Claude. I usually go over to their house to eat lunch after meeting with the silk weavers because they live across the street; also they are really nice and have decided to adopt me and my “special gasy,” which they only laugh at in a nice way. She usually force feeds me 3 servings and sends me home with multiple kilos of bananas, which I generally attempt to refuse to no avail. She can be awfully forceful for such a small woman. (For those of you who are keeping track of my photos on facebook, these are also the people with the baby pigs and DUCKS). One time, she mentioned that they also grow strawberries. I should have known my reaction would have consequences, but I had not seen strawberries yet here, and they are my favorite fruit, so needless to say, I got excited. She told me she sells them at the market every week, but they are usually gone by 8 am because there are not very many right now because it is cold (yes, I promise you, I am not a pansy, it is pretty cold). So I started a routine of going to find her before 8 Wednesday mornings. Only the first time did she let me pay for them. Now she stashes some in her bag for me and makes me take them for free. More incentive to make their family a buttload of money from selling scarves in the states. So anyway, this past week she hassled me for not coming to visit them more often. To be fair, I had been there quite a bit lately, but I was in meetings for this whole exportation thing. So I agreed to go the upcoming Saturday.
I thought I had timed it well, I left after I ate lunch and needed to be home by 5 to talk to my parents on the phone, so I figured I had avoided them having to feed me. I was wrong, of course. I got there a little after 1 and Adalene brings me upstairs where they are watching TV. It is very rare to have a TV in this country, outside of Tana particularly. It is even more rare to have one hooked up to cable. Also their cable channels are awesome—there were some in Malagasy, English, French, Spanish, and even German. If more people could afford TVs in Madagascar, they would be a very culturally sensitive people. Anyway, they ask me if I have already eaten, and I say yes, but they go buy bread and make juice anyway. They also ask me if I will eat dinner with them, and I tell them I have to leave by 4, so of course they decide to eat at 3:30.
So we are having a laugh while I explain what is going on in the English kid’s program involving disappearing dragons and talking dogs. Reminded me a little of Wishbone (remember Wishbone??) but not as cool. Silly England. The program ends, and I ask if there are any channels in Malagasy, because I haven’t really seen TV here. He hands me the remote to start to surf, and I go one channel up and see the pool with the London 2012 insignia. I immediately pause and get very excited, launching into a story about how much I love to swim and asking them if they could swim (no) and had ever been to the Indian Ocean or the Mozambique Channel (again, no). When we clicked to the channel, they were in the middle of the race, so I didn’t know what event it was or who was swimming, only that it was men’s. Luckily, the commentary was in English, and as soon as they hit the turn, they put the name of the top 3 in the corner; P. VANDERKAAY was in first! I got very excited, and decided quickly that it would be too difficult to explain that I didn’t really know him, but he was from a neighboring town and swam at Michigan. For those of you who don’t know, the Vanderkaay’s are from Saline, south of Ann Arbor, and their entire family are absurdly good at swimming. So I ended up telling them that he was someone I knew from home. I suppose I could have just said he was famous, but not all Americans, and not even all Americans who follow the Olympics would know him. So I went on to tell them that I “know” a few people that are Olympians. This is somewhat true. Kara Lynn Joyce went to my high school, but she graduated a year before I started. She did date my sister’s good friend, and he got her to sign a magazine cover for me, so I am counting it. And then there is Allison Schmitt, who I do actually know. We swam together for Ann Arbor Swim Club, before it merged with Wolverine Aquatics under the umbrella of Club Wolverine.
As soon as I get finished with my story (which I can tell without being glued to the screen because the channel kept switching to horse racing and biking), Adalene suggests we go strawberry picking so I will have some to take home (in addition to the 2 kilos of bananas she had already given me, of course). So we go do that, and upon our return they are beginning the women’s 400m freestyle relay. So I start to watch with interest again, not knowing who would be on the relay team. Didn’t recognize the first two names, but got very excited about Natalie Coughlin. That time I didn’t claim to know her, and just said she was famous. But then, much to my surprise, anchoring the relay was none other than Allison Schmitt, who I had just finished telling them about!! They won the heat, but I believe the Australians beat their time for the number one seed in the finals. Still, Americans and Aussies love to duke it out in the pool.
So not only did I get to see a little of the Olympics, which I thought I would miss all of, I got to see the one person I cared most about seeing, and 2 others that I was very happy to watch.
Good luck in the rest of the games, USA, I am rooting for you, even if I can’t watch.
2 weeks till I am home! Maybe I will catch the closing ceremonies J