Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Easter With My 'Gasy Family


Hello again!

I am still a bit behind on my blogging, but I am trying to catch up now.  So going back a bit to Easter and Easter Monday (which is also a holiday in Madagascar).  I promised Claude and his wife Adalene (from my silk co-op in Amboalefoka) I would spend Easter with them like 6 months prior, and every few weeks Adalene would jokingly ask me where I was spending Easter, just to make sure I remembered.

So I headed out to their place 6 km from my town on Saturday morning to spend the weekend.  Claude’s brother and his family came out from Tana as well.  They were very interested in learning all about me and the things I do here, also about America.  It was really difficult to get the wife to stop talking to me in French, but she got it eventually.  They also had an adorable daughter around 8 and a son in his early teens (who was very shy and off playing with Claude’s son, so I didn’t see much of him).  We spent most of Saturday watching TV and chatting and walking a little bit around the fields.

Sunday rolled around and we got up early to head to church.  I had no idea, but Claude is the organist at church.  They have a little catholic church near their house and the church has a basic electric keyboard.  Claude doesn’t play anything fancy, mostly just chords, but I was still really surprised to learn he was the keyboard player.

So after a very long service where the pastor got a bit mad at the congregation for arriving so late (come on man, it is Madagascar, that is the culture.  Although 2 hours late is a bit much…) we returned back to the house for a nice Easter lunch.  While it wasn’t a Petit Jean Ham from Arkansas and my mom’s potato salad, we still had a good meal that included pork, something definitely out of the ordinary for them.  We also had duck, which was delicious J.  A couple of weeks after Easter I also got a package from my mom that included Easter candy and toys, so all in all not so bad.

So the Monday following Easter is also a big deal in Madagascar.  Everyone goes on a little walk or vacation or picnic.  I spent the last “Lundi de Paques” in Mantasoa, where people come from Tana to picnic on the lake.  This time I headed with Claude and Adalene and their family to Ampasamanatongotra (say that 5 times fast) about 5 km from their house so see “hira gasy,” which literally means Malagasy song.  We paid a small fee to see large groups of singers perform songs in traditional meter and dress, set to a small group of instrumentalists including brass and strings.  There are also young men in each group that do kind of martial arts and turn all kinds of cool flips with twists, kind of like break dancing.  Too cool.  So we sat in the hot sun and drank homemade orange juice with waaaay too much sugar and snacked on fried goods.

When we got there, everyone was sitting on the ground in a big circle around the singers.  We circled for a bit and found a good spot to sit with the crowd.  A lot of people recognized me, because most of the people were the same ones who attended the women’s day activities the month before and watched me play soccer.  A few minutes after we found a good spot and sat down, a few men came over with a chair, insisting that I sit on it.  Now, there are probably 500 people sitting on the ground, and not one has a chair.  So I adamantly (but politely) refuse for a solid 5 minutes until they finally give up.  No way man, I stand out enough, haha.

It was not Ann Arbor, but it was still a pretty good Easter.  One more like it and I am home!


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