Have you ever been high on life for 2.5 weeks non stop? It’s exhausting! That’s why even though I had electricity and computer access that whole time (even free shaky internet for a few days) I didn’t write a blog. I much prefer to hand write my blogs by candlelight with music playing on my speakers (thank you Laurin- those speakers have been such a life saver). Currently (when I wrote this) I am listening to a genius Genius playlist of The Avett Brothers, Old Crow Medicine Show, Andrew Bird, etc. But if you wanted to read about folky indie music you can check out any ol’ scenesters blog- I’m sure there’s plenty to be found. Though if you don’t know those artists- check ‘em out. Seriously. Also K*naan- “Take A Minute.” So good.
Instead let’s talk about the Malagasy music scene.
First of all, and probably most hilariously, there is a very popular artist here named Poopy. I sh*t you not. They also play Jason Mraz’s “I’m Yours” every 5th song or so. If you do decide to brave a Gasy night club, you might be surprised by the wall of mirrors everyone is pressed up against. It’s as though you’re in a jazzercise class- everyone sweating and staring into a mirror to see just how fine they look. Gasy fight for prime position right in front of the mirror so they can check out their own sweet dance moves. If there’s one thing Gasy’s love more than dancing in front of mirrors it might just be singing in front of mirrors. Karaoke (in Malagasy, French and English) is HUGE here. My first experience with both mirrors and karaoke was at this bar called Cool Cocktail (yes the name was English) where later that night 2 Malagasy women got into a cat fight, all music stopped, the people in the bar all poured outside into the cold night air to watch these two girls (one was the bartender) rip each other’s hair and push each other around. I hear the argument was over a guy. Another example of how people are the same no matter where they are. At any rate my first experience at Cool Cocktail was one to remember.
This is a sloppy segue into IST (in service training) stories- but I’ll take it anyway. So the second time going to Cool Cocktail was during an IST tech trip. The environment sector came to Moramonga and as it is my banking town I was responsible for providing our entertainment that night. We took over Cool Cocktail with our melodious renditions of “If You Wanna Be My Lover” by Spice Girls and the Queen classic “Bohemian Rhapsody.” We also tore up the dance floor when the Malagasy song “Za tsy kivy” (translates to: I’m not discouraged) imitating the music video and singing along- shocking the few Gasys in the bar that Wed night. It was a fun night, but the bumpy 10k ride out to see a vetiver demonstration field early the next morning did not sit well with most people in the van. Thankfully, most recovered by the time we had to load into the CUTEST Tonka like train to go to another vetiver field. The ride was amazing, but the vetiver was even cooler. To let you all know- vetiver is a power plant with incredibly strong and deep roots (up to 7m deep) that help control hillside erosion and create viable farming terraces on steep inclines. Totally awesome.
As a quick recap of other IST events… I learned some really cool things. Bee keeping, VIH/SIDA (HIV/AIDS) games for sensibilizations, new techniaues for teaching English, a technique of farming using natural mulch known as ‘direct seeding’ and also I learned just how hilarious the show 30 Rock is. I also helped (sorta) lead a session on tree propagation at the SAF/FJKM nursery in Moramonga. We also re-established the WID/GAD (Women In Development/ Gender And Development) committee with hopes of girls camps, co-ed sports teams, and overall examination of the relationship between gender roles and empowering both men and women to be active in their communities. I also became the VAC (Volunteer Advisory Committee) representative for the volunteers in the Moramonga region. As such I will serve as a liason between the volunteers in the field and the staff in the capitol. I’m super psyched about all of these things.
I was also a dancing fool- and my friends and I resumed our obnoxiously ostentation love for each other, making 2 rooms into one by moving 2 beds into one room (how they fit is still astounding) we then called “the orphanage.” We couldn’t stand to be apart anymore than we had to. It’s amazing how life carries on as though it never left off- and this fact is most apparent in Peace Corps. Being at IST was almost like the 4 months at site away from each other never happened. But we brought our Malagasy counterparts along and we could all speak Gasy a little better than when we left. Katie’s hair had grown into a sweet Ace Ventura mullet-ish style, and most were quite a bit tanner. So things had changed, but it was hard to tell. By the end of the two weeks however it was nice to get back home. Other than the rotting banana I had forgotten to take before leaving, and the extra couple pounds I had packed on eating the good food at Montasoa - everything there resumed just the same, as though IST never happened.
@ menaraka indray!