Lemurs

me brown lemur andasibe
Me with a Brown Lemur in Andasibe

           Lemurs, one of the most well known animals in Madagascar, are just one of the many animals that are indigenous to Madagascar.  These primates, looking something like the mixture of a monkey and a dog, can be found across the whole of the island, though most of the species are contained within small localized areas.  “Madagascar is so important for primates that primatologists divide the world into four major regions: the whole of South and Central America, all of southern and southeast Asia, mainland Africa, and Madagascar, which ranks as a full-fledged region all by itself,” says Russell Mittermeir (primatologist and Conservation International president).  There are 105 different species and subspecies of lemur in Madagascar, 90% of which are endangered. Here are just a few of the different species that I have seen.


diademed sifaka andasibe
Diademed Sifaka in Andasibe

Challenging Gender Roles in Madagascar



peace corps madagascar glow camp flage camp

         What is a leader?  A leader is a role model.  A leader is powerful, brave, influential and responsible.  And in Madagascar, a leader is predominantly male.  In Malagasy culture, men hold the power as the head of the household, the bread winner, and the decision maker.  One morning, I started my tenth grade English class the way I always did, by asking the date and introducing the topic of the day: Opinions.  When we were practicing debates, I jokingly asked my tenth graders who was better, men or women.  I was shocked when the majority of the class including the girls immediately decided the answer was men.  When I asked why, I got a variety of answers all leading to the same thing.  Men are leaders.  Men can have whatever job they want to have.  Men can continue to go to school.  Men can make rules.  Men don’t have to worry about getting pregnant.  When I played devil’s advocate and said women can also do those things, the response was unanimous, “Not in Madagascar.”  In that moment, I recognized a need for gender equality and leadership training. 
           

A Look Inside My Malagasy Wallet

Malagasy money as it normally looks.

            In all countries, money plays an important role in the lives of its people.  In Madagascar this role, and the relationships it creates, exist in a large degree in the market place.  Whether it be with your favorite person to buy chicken from, or your carrot and green bean lady who always picks out the freshest veggies for you, or your pepper lady who always has a colorful array of peppers stacked in neat piles upon her straw mat on the ground, or the owner of the store who, though you rarely buy anything from him, always wants you to stop and chat so he can practice his English.  These experiences and relationships are a corner stone to many people’s lives on a daily basis. 

Morondava

alley baobab panorama sunset morondava
Alley of Baobabs sunset 

Morondava is one of the most visited towns in Madagascar due to its proximity to two of Madagascar’s most iconic locations, the Alley of Baobabs and the Tsingy of Bemaraha.  It’s a medium sized beach town nestled on the west coast of Madagascar that is well worth the visit.  Though there isn’t much to do in the town itself, this laid back Malagasy town offers a glimpse into Malagasy life, great white sandy beaches, and access to some of Madagascar’s greatest attractions.

Install: Best Region Ever Region

rainforest of the southeast

The Best Region Ever Region
(Peace Corps Volunteers slogan in the Sud Est region)

southeast madagascar peace corps volunteers halloween manakara



Part of my new position in Peace Corps Madagascar is to install the newest volunteers into their new sites.  For this most recent install I requested that I install some of the volunteers in the Sud Est region and was extremely happy when I got it.  Not only was I able to install new volunteers in

Great Hospitality Brings Great Friendship

(Part 3 of a 3 part series on Hospitality)
You can see the rest of the series here: Part 1 & Part 2.
kids hanging out at my house
Kids hanging out at my house
"Tiavo ny namanao tohaka ny tenanao.” ~Malagasy Proverb
                  (Love you friend as yourself)

            One of my fondest memories of my time in Vondrozo was the friendships that I had.  Not just with my best friends at site or the kids that were always hanging out at my house, but with everyone. 

5 Things Malagasy People Do to Make You Feel Welcome


(Part 2 of a 3 part series on Hospitality)
You can see the rest of the series here: Part 1 & Part 3.

            The Malagasy people are some of the most welcoming people I have ever encountered.  Their culture is one that fosters friendship, community, and hospitality.  In light of this I have put together a list of five things that Malagasy people do that makes me feel welcome here.

greeting
Two of the Malagasy language trainers greeting each other
1. Greeting
            In Madagascar greetings are an essential part of the everyday interactions that make up the
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