It is officially Christmas morning here in Madagascar! Instead of unwrapping presents I am sitting here eating pancake batter cooked on a plate in the microwave because all of the pans here at the meva have gone to shit and lost their non-stick capabilities.
Anyways, my vacation started last Wednesday when I headed up to Mantasoa to help with the education IST (in-stage training, when the group of volunteers gets back together after the first 3 months at their site). I gave a small presentation on basic gardening/school gardens and it went well. Probably the most eventful thing was me trying to actually get to Mantasoa. The plan was for me to meet a Peace Corps car at Ambatoloana, the town on the main road (the road from Moramanga to Tana) where there is a dirty road turnoff for Mantasoa. I was supposed to meet the Peace Corps car at 11:30am so I spent some time in Moramanga so I wouldn’t have to sit around forever in Ambatoloana waiting. The real issue started when I went to by my taxi brousse ticket. Usually, getting a ticket to Tana from Moramanga is super easy. It only costs 5,000 Ariary and I have never had to wait more than 10 minutes. But this time (maybe because of the holidays?) there was a group of about 40 people all trying to catch a ride to Tana. This is pretty strange because the usual problem is that there is too FEW people (brousses have to fill up before they leave). In this case whenever a brousse would arrive it would turn into a brawl and everyone would try and push their way to the front of the ticket counter. The super interesting part came when a man pushed to the front of the line and tried to buy 10 seats (there are only 11 passenger seats…). A woman got up from her seat yelling that she had a sick child and they got into a bit of a shoving match. Awkward….
Luckily someone from my community happened to be heading to Tana too so I made them stand in line and buy my ticket with theirs so I avoided the brawl.
Being up at Mantasoa was great. There running water, electricity, free food, and other volunteers. What more could you want?
After Mantasoa I headed to Antananarivo (it took 4.5 hours because of traffic, it should only take 1.5 hours…) and have been hanging around the meva waiting for my flight to Portugal. It was very busy here are first with all the education ISTers and various other volunteers heading out on vacation. I was able to see 5 people from my stage which was lovely (they were headed up to Diego Suarez for a big group vacay). But now it is very quite here and it is just Gabby and I.
Yesterday we went out an explored a bit. We were slightly concerned that things might not be open because it was Christmas eve. NOT TRUE! It was so freaking busy! Luckily both of us survived our trip through Analakely with all of our belongings intact! We went to a souvenir/touristy market which was absolutely empty. I had been trying to get money from the bank all week but was having very bad luck (no electricity, out of money, ect.) so I had basically nothing on me. I bought a magnet for my niece and bargained it way down because that was all I had. When I opened my wallet to pay I showed the seller and said “See! I’m not a liar. I don’t have money!”. Then when ever other sellers would approach me she would tell them to stop bothering me because I didn’t have money. Sounds like a great strategy to me!
We ate lunch, got lost, got stuck in traffic, tried (and failed) to find somewhere to get a manicure that wasn’t prohibitively expensive, and sweated a lot. It was great to get out and see a bit more of Tana, usually when I am here I am stuck behind my computer trying to get work done.
Our flight for Portugal leaves at 1am on the 26th so we will head to the airport late tonight. We arranged a ride with a taxi driver so hopefully he actually shows up (he is getting 40,000 AR… he better…)!