Saturday, February 13, 2010

Words of Wisdom from MadLand

1 Birds don’t like 6am rain showers either, so you’ve instead spent 2 hours discovering how many leeches you can accumulate on your legs.

2 You may think you’re going to collide with oncoming traffic in a capital city without traffic lights, but never underestimate the skills of a taxi driver. He’ll get you from A to B without even nicking an ox cart.

3 Along the same lines- just because your van piled high with mattresses and tables and your life for the next two years gets stuck in a mud divot 5 k away from your off-the-beaten path town doesn’t mean you won’t get there. You’re driver will take out a shovel to dig out the tires while you walk to find nearby townspeople to help push the van out of the ditch and then construct a make shift bridge out of rocks. Amanda made it to her site and all was well!

4 Hand washing a wash cloth is really something to ponder.

5 Eating rice at every meal is not weird. But not great for your waist line. Unless you’re a Malagasy rice farmer.

6 English is hard. How do you explain the difference between “to say” and “to tell.”

Finally and most importantly…

7 Communication doesn’t depend on fluency of language. Mimes get their point across too. I in much the same fashion- gestures go a long way.

So I’m in my new village and have been there for 2 weeks. I have awesome neighbors that are taking very good care of me and I’m making friends with locals and park guides a like. I really really really miss home- especially when I have time to sit and think. Time has slowed down since the whirlwind of swear in and installation- now I spend time cooking, sweeping, washing my clothes, winnowing my rice, reading, and walking EVERYWHERE. I have a bike that I ride into the National Park a couple times a week and will be making a serious 20 mile hike into my banking town every few weeks over some really gnarly hills. Language is coming in leaps in bounds but it’s still so frustrating at times. Especially when you have a farmer that wants Peace Corps to give him money to buy 150 chickens to start his own chicken business. I went to this massive tree planting the other day where the planted 2,000 endemic forest trees as a reforestation project. There had to have been about 1000 people there so it took about 2 minutes to plant the trees (I did 3) and it was the most amazing, massive, well coordinated event I’ve seen. Complete with hand washing station, sandwiches and water for all participants. Truly amazing!

So for now I’m trying to get “tamana” or well adjusted. It’ll be interesting to see what I decide to spend my time on for the next two years (which is so daunting to think about) since I have a lot of possibilities.

My computer died and with it went many of my photos and all chances of possible skype to skype connection for now. SUPER sad! But I have a new address and a post man that delivers my mail to my door.

Sara Tolliver, PCV

SAF/ FJKM Antsapanana- Andasibe

Fokontany Ampangalantsary, 514


So I miss home and all you wonderful people so much. Letters, emails, blog comments, facebook, all of it makes me happier than you could imagine. If you have skype and can call my number is the same (country code 261)341890626. Even texts make my day and they’re either free or really cheap from skype so check that out too! (include your name in those texts though)
I want to hear about life in the states- even the mundane!

Like this:

Current book I’m reading: Dune (it’s awesome)

Last meal I cooked: my breakfast 2 days ago of leftover rice and roasted salted peanuts (a nat’l dish and surprisingly delicious!)

Last cool animal I saw: The biggest, greenest chameleon you could imagine- it was like 10 inches long and maybe 5 inches high.

Likewise if you have specific questions about my life here send me an email or blog comment and I’ll answer them as best I can. I miss you, love you, and think about y’all all the time.