Tsy Malala Fomba Anao (You Don’t Follow Custom)

In Madagascar there are many cultural norms, known as fomba, and taboos, known as fady, that the regular traveling tourist would probably never pick up on.  Though they may be seen as unimportant to the average tourist they are fundamental parts of the Malagasy culture as a whole.  Following is a list of just a few of these that can be found in my region, the Sud Est of Madagascar.
  • When pointing at something or in any direction you must not point with an outstretched index finger like you would do in the western world, but instead point towards it with a bent finger.  The reason for this is that there may be a grave in the direction you are pointing and it is taboo

Money, Money, Money…Monnnnney

            Madagascar may be very expensive to travel to but once you are here the Dollar goes a long way.  On average the Dollar equals 3,000 Ariary.  That might be just an arbitrary number for most people, and it was for me when I first arrived here, but let me break it down for you.  Almost any food stuffs can be bought for under a dollar.  Fruit is something I buy everyday and it is in abundance in this country.  The most expensive fruit for me to buy, a pineapple, cost me 400 Ar or $0.13.  Most fruit cost 100Ar ($0.03) for multiples; for example four oranges, a bunch of lychees, or two mangoes.  A regular meal for dinner cost on average about 900Ar ($0.30) to make and if I feel like

Meet My Counterpart

Meet Donald, my counterpart and best friend in Madagascar.  He is a chief in the Sahafatra tribe and has lived in Vondrozo all his life, except for his time at University in Tana where he received his Masters in Law.  He owns his own private school, The Light School, and was the proviseur of it as well until he became mayor of an adjacent Commune.  He speaks the very good English, best English of anyone in Vondrozo by far, which is the reason why we first became friends.  More than that he is very musically gifted and plans to release a world music album this year. 
Donald during a party to congratulate the new mayors of the District


Blogging Abroad's Boot Camp Blog Challenge: Starting January 2015

Thats Happened

            I have lived in Madagascar for about 1 ½ years now and things that were once weird or strange to me at arrival have now become just part of my normality.  Things that I originally thought were weird or rude for others to do I now find I do myself.  It is hard once you have become integrated into a culture to look at it with open eyes and see those things you once saw as so different.  Following are a series of tweets relating just some those things:

Bike Ride Continued

The Hardest Bike Ride Ever Bike Ride!

Monday, 12/14/15 – Monday, 12/21/15
            The bike ride from Vangaindrano to Fort Dauphin, in the south east of the country, can be argued as being one of the hardest bike rides in the country.  When the condition of the road is factored in with the length of time it takes to complete it and the obscurity of towns along the way a case can easily be made that it is the hardest ride.  Before doing the ride I had known that two other groups had done the ride in the past and had completed it in just four days of hard riding during the dry season.  We, unable to find time during the dry season, decided to brave the elements and try a ride during the rainy season.  Coupled with the ride we had decided to do some malaria workshops
and surveys for the recent bed net distribution.  To work in more towns and make the ride a bit easier on us we decided to stretch the ride out to five days; it ended up taking us eight though two of the days were not spent traveling.

The Malagasy Way of Life

             The Malagasy way of life differs of course depending on each person’s profession/s, but it is in many ways the same.  This similarity in many peoples life is due to the fact that many Malagasy people have more than one profession/job to be able to earn enough money to live on.  It is also due to the fact that many Malagasy people also own some land in which they farm rice or some type of produce in order to supplement their income.  Those people that have somewhat similar work schedules as we would be used to in western society are usually vendors at the market (who stay at their stalls all day selling their wares), store owners, and officials; although this is not always the

Another Day in My Life

I woke up this morning the same way as every other day, by the sound of rosters crowing and pigeon’s feet stomping out their morning dance on my ceiling at 5 am.  Waking up this morning I was confronted with the question of what to wear today and was answered with a shrug from a pile of clothes sitting on the floor.  I had planed to wash the clothes “tomorrow” for the past few days; putting it off because “I did not have the time for them to dry.”  In hindsight it seems that was a mistake now that the rains have started and there is even less chance for them to dry.  So there they remain a testament to my laziness until a later, sunnier, moment presents itself.  The question still

Home is Where I Find Myself

           I have always found myself at home where ever I am.  The fact that it is now in Madagascar makes no difference to me.  Home here is much more different than what I was used to in the States though.  For instance I only have electricity at my house for four hours a day, in the evening.  This makes things a bit more interesting.  I can not just plug in something to charge, turn on the air conditioner when it is hot (and oh does it get hot here!), turn on a microwave to heat up my food, or keep perishable foods in a refrigerator.  Instead I must prepare food for each meal with fresh foods bought at the market each day.  Also, none of the houses here in my town have running water either,

Why Did I Do This?

            Why did you join the Peace Corps?  Why did you want to go live in a foreign country away from family and friends and without the comforts of American life?  Why did you commit two years of your life to volunteer and make no money?  Why?  These, along with an array of others, are questions I was presented with by family, friends, and, at times, myself when I was in the process of applying to the Peace Corps. 
            It seems like a life time ago, and in a sense it was, since I started writing my application for the Peace Corps or even from when I came to Madagascar a mere nineteen months ago.  Though I have at times had to reassert my ‘why’ during the duration of my service, many of the ‘whys’ has

Blogging Abroad Challenge

            I have recently been asked to join a blogging challenge that will have me writing, or more correctly speaking, posting, more frequent blogs about my service.  In this challenge I will be given a prompt to write about two times a week, every week, for six weeks total.  So you can expect my more frequent blogs than I normally give; which I intend to continue after the challenge is concluded.  For those of you that like to follow the day by day blogs that I usually do do not worry.  I will continue those on top of the challenge prompts as well, you will just get them sooner than usual.  So in short, those following my blog (thank you by the way for doing so and please continue) be ready for a barrage of new blogs coming your way with a Blogging Abroad stamp.

Club Vintsy Plants Saragisy

            Club Vintsy is an environment group of high school students at my Lycee (high school), and although I do not work with directly as my primary job, I usually attend their meetings and functions with my sitemate since a large majority of it attendance is my students.  Every Wednesday afternoon the club has a meeting and then will usually do some sort of gardening activity; whether it be planting seeds in the sapling garden, learning composting techniques, or building new gardens.  But one special day a year WWF funds an excursion into the ambanyvolo (countryside) for a replanting activity and today was that day.  So after everyone meeting at the Lycee, we made our way through town and up the
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