It has been a few weeks since I have been at my site. My WWF agents are in the field right now and my work with Stan and the meeting I had in Fianar precluded my going with them this time. The last month I was there, I was really unsatisfied with the work I was doing. I tagged along with WWF on our last field tour, but I didn't really bring anything to the table and didn't feel like i really made a difference in any of the villages we visited. So I am travelling around a bit, trying to get reinspired. I think it's working.
I spent about a week at Brittany's site.
We farmed vanilla and did compost and double digging workshops, held a meeting with her nascent womens group (they want to farm ducks, for eggs) and built a bed for rice transplants. The amount of blisters I got definitely told me that it has been way too long since I got my hands in the dirt and I was very glad to be doing some agricultural work.
Then we spent my birthday in a coastal city near her village. We had to walk 11km to get to the crossroads where we could catch a ride, but then we instantly got in a camion (cargo truck) and were on our way. It was amazing! I mean, can you imagine not having to wait for hours to catch a ride? oh yeah....well it was an amazing thing here, but nevermind. We met a couple of health volunteers and and had 'Gasy food and beers (batter fried peppers stuffed with onions anyone?) and then crashed at a hotel that was full (they graciously let us sleep in their defunct restaurant turned meeting room so long as we vacated by 8:00, and they even gave us a Peace Corps discount). All in all, a memorable b-day if rather mellow. Kind of how I prefer it.
I have since been in Fianar for the past few days. We had a provincial meeting with all the volunteers in the area. i think about 20 of us attended. We discussed house issues, had spiels from Diversity and Women in Development committees, and discussed the big Halloween party we were throwing that night. We were co-sponsoring with a major cell phone company. It was at a discotheque and was advertised around town. They don't celebrate Halloween here so it was a good cross-cultural experience (they do honor the dead on Nov. 1 though). i couldn't believe how many Malagasy showed up and how good their costumes were. they definitely prefer the scary to the farcical with all sorts of ghosts and demons abounding. They had a kicking sound system too, which was the first i had seen here; that could be explained by the fact that this was the first club I had ever been in. Periodically the DJ would call out to people to wave their cell-phones in the air - I guess to appease the cell-phone company. I went as a common sack of produce with the ubiquitous can of milk measuring cup on top. When I get a hold of some pictures I will show you all. it was a really fun party for me.
Tomorrow evening I will head down south to help open an English center, visit an Environment volunteer, and go to a Malagasy music Festival. This is my first time off the plateau or out of the rainforest so I am really excited. It is the spiny desert down there and the culture is totally different - they don't grow rice, for one thing, and their dialect is very different as well. Then Lisa, an Education volunteer near me, and I, will try to make it up the coastal road back to site through an area with no public transport. It should be an adventure.
So unless you get to me in the next 24 hours, The next time we can correspond my computer will probably be Christmas. I of course still love letters though, just a reminder...