Sunday, August 15, 2010


During training, I have had and will have limited access to slow internet. I've been keeping a log of my daily adventures, but at this point it's 24 pages. This entry is a good one to post. The only difference is now I'm not learning Standard Malagasy, but the Sakalava dialect. This week I'm visiting my permanent site, which is Ambanja. Look it up. It's sweet.

[Vocab: neny = mom; dada = dad; PCT = Peace Corps Trainee (what I am)]

July 28, 2010

This method is not the most efficient way to keep a journal. One day I type up my thoughts on my laptop, the next I scribble them down in my journal. Eh, as they say here, “Tsy maninona” (it doesn’t matter).

Today the sun came out! As I mentioned before, it has been freezing here! Very wet, and basically the entire surface of the land turns to slippery mud. As I had learned before I came, the top soil here has been completely swept away due to slash and burn agriculture.

My point is, every day has been particularly gloomy, weather wise, and it’s impossible to stay clean in all the mud. However, today around 12:30, the sun came out it actually stayed clear until sunset (which is before 6 over here). It really is a beautiful place. Even though it’s not a tropical region, the country side is stunningly green and the sky is incredibly blue. I haven’t been in air this clear in a while. Beautiful.

So, I think I’m going to take you through a typical day in my life.

I wake up at 5 a.m. and wash dishes from the night before while Neny starts two fires (one to heat water for bathing, the other for making breakfast). I’m usually done by about 5:30, at which time I empty my Po (pee-bucket with lid) in the kabone (outhouse) and clean it out (if I’ve used it that night). I then go back up to my room and grab my towel and soap and put them down in the ladosy (little outdoor enclosure for bathing). I go fill up my bucket halfway with water from the well and then add the boiling water from the fire until it’s a good temperature. After I wash myself (surprisingly refreshing), I get dressed in my room and go in for breakfast. Dada is up by this time, and we eat together as a family, and then he goes to work. Breakfast always consists of rice in some form (either by itself, or in a watery porridge with sweetened condensed milk). Additionally, there is bread, either in baguette form or in mofo-gasy form (little muffin balls fried on the stove). Very satisfying. We have little cups of hot water with sweetened condensed milk to drink, and sometimes, delicious coffee. The table is cleared, and I get ready to go.

I have to scrub the wood floor of my room every morning with a dry scrubber brush that you move along with your foot, and then sweep up the dust. After doing this, and brushing my teeth, it’s usually about 7. Class doesn’t start until 8, so I usually have a little free time. Lately I’ve been playing guitar (which I borrowed from a fellow PCT). On M, T, W, and F, we are broken up in groups of 3 students and 1 language teacher and each group meets at a house (or some other location with 4 chairs and a table) for almost 4 hours of Malagasy lessons (on Thursdays all 42 PCT’s go to the training site together group sessions). We take breaks, and sometimes we walk around the village with our instructor and try to use Malagasy in a practical context. For instance, yesterday I bought a bar of laundry soap. We get out of language class around 11:30-11:45.

We then go home for lunch at noon. Lunch is usually ready when I get there: rice in some form, meat, vegetables, rice water to drink, more rice. Oh yeah, there’s also rice. After lunch, Dada goes back to work and I help Neny with stuff because I don’t have class again until 2. I do the dishes, and today I hand-washed a few clothing items out in the yard and hung them out to dry. Sunday is laundry day, but I have a lot to do, so I wanted to get an early start. After chores, if I have some free time, I try to speak Malagasy with Neny, or I watch Malagasy television with her in her room on her little fuzzy T.V.

About quarter of 2, I walk over to the primary school for either cultural or technical training with all the other 20 Education PCT’s (the 21 Health PCT’s meet at a different location for the same thing, except their technical training is about community health, not teaching English. On Thursdays, however, we are all at the training site all day). We’re done at around 4:30-4:45 every day. We’re supposed to be back at our housed between 5 and 6, depending on our host families’ preferences. My host family eats at 6, and it starts getting dark before then, so I usually go back to my cozy little house right after class. Due to the fact that we spend almost 24 hours without having a free, non-class conversation with fellow Americans, PCT’s tend to socialize before going back to their host families. However, we only have about 15 minutes of free time, so you can tell that we are starved for social interaction. For instance, every break in the middle of any class turns into a huge socializing event that instructors/technical trainers have an increasingly hard time breaking up as the days go by.

However, we do go home. I usually help chop vegetables for dinner, and do a little studying, and then dinner is served at 6: rice, meat, and vegetables of some sort, and a banana or orange for dessert. Afterward, we head to bed. Yep, around 7 o’clock. I usually read/write letters/write in my journal until 8:30 before I go to sleep, and Dada and Neny are usually up watching T.V. in their room until 8.

The next day, I do it all over again. Tsara be (very good). Faly aho (I am happy).