Where does the time go?
I'm in the capital once again. Faith and I had a horrendous trip from Mananara to the capital, including an argument with our taxi brousse driver which almost resulted in us being put out of the car in the middle of nowhere. But we made it here alive, and now we're going to Mantasoa for a conference with a bunch of volunteers. I haven't forgotten that taxi brousse ride yet though thanks to the numerous bruises I suffered sharing a Landcruiser for 20 hours with 17 people. I think it's designed for ten. Although my perception of how many people are supposed to fit in a vehicle anymore is definitely skewed.
But anyway... here's a quick update of how things have been going for me at site since I last checked in.
My very good friends in the village, the family who has taken me in as their own, hosted a huge traditional Malagasy ceremony in Soavinarivo in July. It's called a famadihana, and basically, the family in the presence of their community digs up their most recent dead relative, cleans off their bones, and puts them in a new casket. Then they have a big party with lots of dancing, singing and of course, RICE! A cow was slaughtered for this particular ceremony.
The new casket with the freshly cleaned bones inside attends the party, and people come to visit and pay respects.
After the party is over (two days later at our party), the casket is then brought to the family tomb to be with the other dead relatives.
Read more about the famadihana here.
This is a photo at my village's graveyard. They are working on digging up her casket in this photo. The community participates by singing and drinking "betsa", the local brew.
Here we are getting ready to eat rice at the party.
This photo is taken two doors from my house, which you can't see, but is off to the right. You can see my garden on the other side of the street, which is fenced in with leaves.
And here's a nice big plate of rice. Have I mentioned the rice? Don't forget the rice.
Also in July, I painted a world map mural at our local elementary school with some local friends. Tom and Faith also came down to help with the map, and now they're starting a map in their village in Imorana.
I had people come by to see what we were doing who didn't recognize what we were making a picture of. Then once we explained they still didn't really understand. Anyway, I hope the map will encourage the students to learn more about the rest of the world.
After painting the world map, I got a little ambitious with the leftover paint and my counterpart and I along with the help of some other local community members created a mural of Madagascar. This was really fun and I think it turned out beautifully.
And by the way, I live in the green area of the map, just to the south east of the peninsula (which I recently hiked across).
Other than that, it's vanilla harvest season, so I've been helping cook, dry, and sort vanilla beans with a local farmer. (Ziggy likes to help out too.)
And this is the (second) time of the year for planting rice. I was busy with the murals so wasn't able to help transplant this year, but my counterpart and his family have increased the area in which they are using SRI because of their results last season. Here is our freshly planted rice field which we will harvest in December with hopefully more rice than last year.
And last, but most certainly not least, Ziggy, otherwise known as Zigger Doodle, has become legendary in Soavinarivo. More people know Ziggy's name than my own. She continues to climb coconut trees and eat geckos. Recently she has been diligently studying for the GRE, which is scheduled for October 25th. Here she is hard at work learning new vocabulary and catching up on her geometry.
That's the update for today!
Thanks to those of you who continue to stay in touch and send nice text messages and letters in the mail. I miss and love you all!
September 7, 2008
Where does the time go?