VAC Nosy Varika

            It is that time of the year again; time for another VAC (Volunteer Advisory Committee). This was my second VAC to plan and was, out of the two, the hardest.  Since our VAC meeting had never been in the northern part of our region I decided to have the VAC in Nosy Varika, a small island in the Pangalanes Canal 100 km north of Mananjary.  What made it the hardest for me to plan was that it is in the north of the Sud Est, 370 km from my site, and there being no one still in country having ever been there.  The limited conversations over e-mail, Facebook, and phone calls that I was able to make gave me but little information on what to expect.  Planning for a more ‘chill’ VAC than normal; I reserved the hotel, a ferry to get us there, food for our first night, and had everyone meet in Mananjary the day before leaving to make sure that we would make the ferry. 
            Catching the ferry at 7 o’clock the following morning, we had a nice nine hour ride up the canal to Nosy Varika.  The view as we made our way up the canal was amazing and the weather for at least part of the trip was nice; allowing us to sit on the top deck of the boat and enjoy the view and atmosphere.  The second day took us exploring around the island, as well as to the beach.  That evening, it being Halloween, we all dressed up in our costumes (each bought or made from things bought in the street markets) and walked through town to Diamondra’s where we were to have dinner.  Having preordered our food earlier, the owner had already set a table for us in the karaoke room and had an amazingly good and overly large dinner waiting.  After feasting on what seemed like a never ending dinner, we made our way home and failed at keeping alive the feeble fire that we had only barely managed to start.  During this struggle with the fire, and by its dwindling light, we handed out the vests to the new volunteers.  Sud Est vest are a tradition in our region; each person is given their own vest, decided by the group which best suits them, to be worn during our meetings.  Though we usually only wear the vests during the official meeting, the new volunteers wore them with pride for the entirety of the VAC. The following day half of the volunteers left because they needed to attend to other things, while the rest of us had a lazy day meandering around the island.  The last day took the rest of us on a ten hour ferry ride back to Mananjary.

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