1st Recorded Strava Ride

            Today I decided to go on another bike ride down the northern road out of Vondrozo to the waterfalls/rapids.  This has become my favorite road to ride and is one that I have done a few times now.  It’s a beautiful ride with amazing scenery of rolling hills, forest, and rice fields.  It also has a few precarious ‘wooden bridge’ river crossings and ends (well I stop) at a set of rapids on the river.  The whole trip is on a red dirt ‘road,’ that in most places is washed out and rocky, but great for mountain biking.  Since my phone broke in Mantasoa I have not been able to record any of my rides till now.  I finally got a new smartphone (thank you Elena) and with it my Strava app.  So today, for

Received My School Schedule

            I think a bit of information about the Lycee (high school) is need here before going into my schedule.  There are only three grades in the Lycee: Seconde, Premiere, and Terminale.  These grades are then separated into sections or classes.  There are fewer sections as you go up in grades due to the drop out rate. Now that the ground work is set, I had my first teacher meeting this morning at my new school in Vondrozo.  The Proviseur, sitting in the front of the classroom, lead the meeting and the 15 teachers and I sitting in the student’s desk facing him.  He started by going around the room and introducing everyone, as two of the teachers and I were new to the school.  After this he gave a


            This evening, on the way home, Marolahy learned that someone in the Antefasy tribe in Vondrozo had died and that there was a ‘wake’ being held in the Antefasy house.  I convinced him to take me about the time we were passing the trail to the house, so we made our way up to the house.  Entering, we made our quick introductions and then left to make preparations for our time at the ‘wake.’  During these events the people in the house do not sleep the entire night.  To accomplish this they spend the whole night sitting around talking and drinking.  So leaving the house we made our way to the bar where I bought a liter of ‘alcohol’ as a gift to the family.  We then went to Marolahy’s

The Long Walk Home

            Yesterday evening a Malagasy nature group out of the Highlands came to Vondrozo.  They were kids and young adults, ages 15 – 25, from Fianar and Ansirabe, that were participating in a summer camp that lead them here to see the Corridor and then down to Toliara region.  When they arrived at the Lycee, we cleared out a few of the classrooms for them to sleep in and left them to prepare the rest of their ‘camp.’  This morning I was awakened by camp chants and as I made my way outside I saw that they were all in a circle chanting, listening to speeches from the camp heads about the day, and receiving backpacks as gifts.  After all of their camp stuff was done and they had

Barefoot Basketball

            The Lycee has a basketball court on its grounds and so today Greg, four neighborhood Malagasy, and I went out to shoot around.  Nothing wrong with that, but where I made my fatal mistake was throwing of my flip flops off when we decided to play a real game.  The concrete is extremely rough and it was not very long before I unknowingly acquired blisters on my feet, namely my big toes.  This too was fine till one was cut open on a rock and left the bottom of my left big toe literally skinned.  I had to return home clean and bandage my wound and am now laid up waiting for it to heal. 

First Bike Ride in the Sudest

            I decided today that I wanted to go on a bike ride and try to get back into cycling shape.  The Sudest is known for cycling and most of the volunteers in this region are cyclist.  So after I finished eating lunch, I got my bike and headed up to Greg’s house to meet him for the ride.  I could not have picked a hotter pat of the day.  I do not know how hot it was, but it had to be in the mid 90’s and on a clear day that tropical sun really beats down on you.  But we went anyways.  We decided to head down the southern road, a road that I had walked partly down two days ago while exploring and one that Greg had yet to explore.  The ride was beautiful.  Vondrozo is a beautiful place and, I think it can

Circumcision Fety

             Circumcision is a huge event here in Madagascar and is the reason for one of the big parties that the people here throw.  Circumcision in Madagascar is not done when the boy is a baby like in the States though.  It is done when the boys are older (I am still acquiring into the details of the ceremony, but I believe that it is done anywhere between 5 and 10 years of age) and are knowledgeable enough to be scared and try to run away.  The party that I attended was hosted by Mr. Marolahy, at his house, and was for his sister’s son.  The circumcision and party started at 5 am this morning and consisted of a few ceremonial acts.  The most striking was that the grandfather of the boy eats the foreskin on a banana.  It is also customary, in all important circumstances, to bring some

Finally Have a Home

            Today was spent assembling my bed and trying to put the furniture and everything else I brought or acquired in country in its place.  This was done under the close supervision of some of the neighborhood kids, who started by watching me work from their seat on the back steps, but then slowly made there way into the house to get a better look at what I was doing.  Once I set up my bed, my kitchen area, and had tried to find a place for most of the other stuff, I finally pulled out my maps and laid them on the floor to examine.  This was a delight to the kids and they came over to also look for the places they knew.  After they were done pouring over the maps, they helped me decide how to hang them on my wall.  Unable to use the push pins I brought on the cement wall or easily use nails either I resorted to using duct tape, but this also does not seem to work as they keep falling off. 

I Finally Have Furniture

            So I was told that my furniture was finished and that it would be arriving today on the taxi brusse, so the Proviseur, Greg, Marolahy, and I waited at one of the local hotelys for it to arrive.  When it finally arrived at 9 pm this evening it was already dark and the bed having arrived in pieces to be able to fit in the brusse, was unloaded there in the middle of town.  I paid the brusse driver the fare for the shipment and then the Proviseur, not wanting to carry the furniture the long distance back to the Lycee, hired three guys to haul it for us.  Walking behind these guys carrying my furniture, with my insanely bright headlamp lighting there way, made me feel extremely colonial.  Not a nice feeling to have, especially when your new in town and everyone still thinks your French because they


            I do not know how I managed to go for three months in Madagascar without ever using a 101, but that streak came to an end today.  For those that do not know what a 101 is, it is a type of “toilet.”  I use the word toilet loosely here because there really is not a toilet and in most cases, mine included, it does not flush, but is only a hole in the ground.  It is called a 101 because it has two places on each side of the hole for you to put your feet and so with those and the hole it looks like the number 101.  So today was the first time for me to use one and I have to say I may never want to go back to a western toilet again, though having a flushing 101 that did not smell would be nice. 
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