Madagascar’s Independence Day!!!

The Independence Day celebrations here in Mantasoa went on for three days and I was told that in the capital they went on all week.  The actual independence day was on Thursday, 6/26/2014, but people started celebrating the night before.  When I returned from our meetings at the PCTC, knowing that there were going to be festivities going on that night, I asked my Neny what was going on and if we were going to be doing anything.  When he answered that we were going to watch the fireworks in Tana on the T.V. I was super bummed, but there was not much I could do.  Fortunately
my two sisters from out of town had come in that evening and they convinced Neny to let us all go out that night.  So leaving shortly after dark, my siblings, cousin, some of their friends, and I walked down to the EPP (elementary school) to see what was going on.  Mantasoa has no street lights and so when the sun goes down it is pitch black and our way was lit only by the dim glow of a Chinese lantern.  When we arrived at the EPP, I spotted two of my fellow trainees and after introducing my family to them my family walked away and left me with the trainees.  This would be a common practice with many of the other trainees as well.  Although, a few of the families left the small children to “baby sit” their trainee, which we all found very funny that they had to be baby sat by a child.  There were a lot of people all gathered around in the street and the EPP area, but not much was actually happening.  There was some music playing at the EPP and a small carousel that was powered by a guy running around in circles pushing it.  There were also a lot of people tossing “black cat” fireworks and kids running down the street spinning a bunch of sprinklers tied to strings.  Around “dark 30” the Mantasoa firework show began and lasted all of five minutes, but it is what is to be expected from a medium sized village.  Through out this time more and more trainees began to show up and so a few of the guys decided to go down to the bar to try our first Malagasy beer (Fun fact: girls can be at a bar, but can not drink or smoke there for fear of being precieved as being there other reasons).  The bar is very small and can only fit maybe 8-10 people standing up, but there is a porch area outside that is also small.  Most people, us included, end up drinking their beer there at the bar, because there is an extra charge if you take the bottle with you (you get this back if you return the bottle).  The atmosphere was pretty awesome there though.  Outside on the porch was a group of guys sitting around, drinking, and singing and the music they were making was really good.  After finishing our beer we returned to the rest of the group and just hung out until our families came by to “pick us up.”
            The following day was the actual celebration and we were told to be at the EPP that morning because the Peace Corps were going to be in the parade…there was no parade.  There was though, a flag rising and far too many speeches and singing on really crappy speakers (fun fact: in Madagascar if someone is raising the flag you must stop walking until the flag has reached the top).  Once this was all over they had traditional dancing, but we were to far away to be able to see.  The kids solved this problem by climbing into the trees to be able to see over all of the people.   We were finally told we could leave if we wanted and many of the trainees did.  Those of us that stayed became more of attraction than the carnival games; at least for a while.  Once we started to walk around we saw that they had many of the carnival game that we have in the States.  I say many…they had four versions of carnival games (seen in pictures).  The guinea pig game was by far my favorite to watch.  There were also vendors lining the streets selling all sorts of drinks, food, and wares.  My Neny had a stall in which she was making kabobs, which were delicious.  My friends and I probably bought at least 30 all together.  There was also a Hotely, Malagasy restaurant (not be confused with a hotel), that was selling “Vietnamese eggrolls,” which were also amazing.  Andy and I convinced the cook to take us back to the kitchen and show us how to make them.  For the rest of the day, and the day that followed, there would be music, games, vendors, and a bunch of people in the streets of Mantasoa.  
Throwing a ring around a bottle.

Betting on what box the gerbil will run to.

Man powered carousel.

Fishing the ring on to the bottle.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, love the games! I've enjoyed reading of all that is going on - hope to see pictures of Neny & your family & home as I continue reading. Sure can see where flip flops would be skates with a little rain. Lots of dirt!


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