Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A Visit to Ambanja

Just passed the "three-months-til-I'm-home" date. CrAzY!
I would be more sad, but it's bloody hot here in Diego, but not nearly as hot as it is in Ambanja, were I spent last week.

I moved to Diego from Ambanja at the beginning of July, and having no structured work left here in Diego, I thought it prudent to head back to Ambanja finally. I spent a few days visiting classes with another English teacher who I collaborated with before. I went with him to all of his classes, and his students asked me questions to practice speaking English with a native speaker. (Read: they stared at me and murmured to themselves for 20 minutes until someone was brave enough to volunteer to ask me how old I am and if I am married. Those are always the first two questions. Who cares?! Ask me if I like to eat rice! Ask me what Malagasy music I like! Something interesting!) They were so strangely shy after they yelled harassments at me while I was waiting outside for the teacher to arrive. Seriously, I'm standing outside and there are ten boys yelling abuses at me from the second floor. As soon as I arrive in the classroom, no one has anything to say. Teenagers. Repeat this process several times over the course of a few days. Oh boy.
Visiting with my old classes, however, was lovely. While I was walking to school, they all greeted me (i.e. "Good morning Miss Dorothy!" "Good afternoon Felix!"). They were very nice and welcoming and on their best behavoir for my visit. Then all of the students knew I was in Ambanja, so they passed by my old house and wanted to chat. It was nice.
You know what else is nice? Fine French cuisine for Thanksgiving dinner, that's nice. We (myself and 6 other volunteers) went out to eat at the nice restaurant in Ambanja for Thanksgiving. We went around the table and cheered to what we were thankful for and had a jolly good time. It was my third Thanksgiving in Madagascar, and I like shrimp better than turkey anyways.
We also went to the beach. We ordered a private taxi-brousse and went to the beach that's outside Ambanja. We brought along some of out Malagasy pals, including my friend who is 8 and a half months pregnant! One can't ask for more than a beautiful day at Ankify with good friends and sun. (Maybe a little too much sun).
I stayed with "Momma Peace Corps" who you should remember from tales over the last year. She's always there and ready to provide whatever volunteers need. From a lunch for 10 of rice and beans to a mosquito netted bed to sleep in, she's got you covered.
There are a lot of volunteers around Ambanja now that PC Madagascar has been reopened for a year. Back in my day it was just me, and then eventually Katie, and we had to walk 4k uphill both ways. But now there are Americans all over the place! My replacement in Ambanja, Josh, is carrying on all the keeping of realness. It was werid though to not only be the only person there from my orginal group of volunteers, but now that Brittany and Corie are gone, I was the only one who reinstated too. Time flies when you're sweating your flesh off. Man I miss Brittany and Corie (and all my stagemates). The new people are rad as hell, but I really miss the Tamatave crew, my stage, and all the other reinstaters!
I really like Ambanja, I've missed parts of it here from Diego, but what I didn't miss the most is the heat. It's only 237k South of here, but it's much more tropical (read: humid) and doesn't have the bay breeze. I had my good old friend Heat Rash back after being there for a couple of days.
Now I'm here in Diego, working on graduate school paperwork, being crafty (making a purse from frippe clothes that I don't want to take home, PBN, coloring book) until I can find some teachers who will let their students ask me how old I am and if I'm married.

For all of your Madagascar chocolate needs, check this out. It's a chocolate company run by two RPCVs from Madagascar. Everything is organic and fair trade and all that hippy stuff, so eat chocolate and feel good about supporting the cocoa growers of Ambanja. http://www.madecasse.com/

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