First off. Soz mans. It’s been more work than I can possibly say to establish decent enough internet to get blogging. I promise more consistency in future.
Well. We’ve been here for about a month now and starting to see what the general chat is. Mandritsara is a decent sized town, with a street of shops (lovingly dubbed the Champs-Élysées) with variable quantities of extremely variable stuff dependent on road conditions. There’s a market too where you can get all the fresh fruit and veg – I got 4 mangoes for 200 Ariary last week, which is about 1p each. BARGAIN. And a terrifying meat market with giant chunks of zebu (Malagasy call these omby, and they’re seriously prized and looked after in life) being whacked to bits in the sun. And RICE. So much rice. Madagascar has the highest rice consumption per head of population in the world, and it is definitely obvious when you’re here!
We live about half a mile out of Mandritsara.
That’s part of the walk home. Children run after us most of the way shouting BONJOUR VASAHA (foreigner) at the top of their lungs which is pretty funny. As with much of Madagascar, there are kids everywhere, many of them carrying baskets of charcoal/water buckets or individual empty bottles (which is a talent in itself) on their heads. A Malagasy lady I know was carrying her handbag precariously on her head the other day-when I asked her why not carry it as the namesake suggests, she said it’s far easier par tête!
A lot of time is spent currently trying to grasp Malagasy language and a little of how the culture works. Basically-it’s hard. Most words start with the letter m, and all end in a vowel, but most of those are silent, and verbs start with a different letter dependent on the tense-get the gist already? It’s also massively dialectual-the Tsimihety (people where we are) speak the equivalent of thick unbridled Doric. There are also no published Tsimihety learning material so all lessons are in French, through our very lovely language teacher.
Malagasy people, as a general rule, laugh a LOT. Particularly if you try to speak Malagasy. Particularly if you are as poor at it as I am. I’m assured this is actually a good thing, but does nothing for the ol’British self-awareness situation we all unwittingly possess!
I’ll leave you with a sunset. iPhoneography does it no justice.