Our First Entry From Madagascar!!

Trip Start Feb 12, 2006
Trip End May 12, 2008

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Friday, March 3, 2006

Hi everyone-

We are currently staying in the Peace Corps "Meva" flophouse in Antananarivo. Wow- where do I start??

The past 2 weeks have been amazing. We arrived in the capital on Thursday, Feb. 16th. We took a small plane from S. Africa to Madagascar and the flight over the island was amazing- it was so beautiful from the air. In the airport we were greeted by some PC staff and welcomed by several current volunteers. We piled into Peace Corps landrovers with all our luggage and went to the PC medical office for a quick language lesson and some more shots!

Next we drove about an hour (40 km) to a town called Sambaina where we have been staying with a wonderful host family. We have electricity at their house, but no water or indoor plumbing. A typical day is waking with the rooster crow around 5:45, walking  to the water pump to get water for our bucket showers, a breakfast (e.g. rice, french fries, french bread, homemade tea, & more rice). We walk to our training center and have tech, language, health & admin. classes with the 20 other PC trainers for about 8 hours. We walk home for lunch & the evening we spend talking with the family. The daughter has taught us a lot, but the whole family is wonderful (they take care of us like we are theirs!). Aaron is our entertainment & he has started teaching his "brother" to play guitar.

We have learned to feed the chickens, carry them to the coop, wash dishes, wash our clothes (by hand which takes quite a long time!!!),  use a latrine, take a COLD bucket bath. In tech class we have made compost piles, built a tree nursery & planted 2 gardens (both of which are already producing fruit- thanks mom & dad for the gardening skills.)

Sambaina is in the highlands, the temperature is cool & it rains everyday. It is surrounded by rice paddies & is absolutely beautiful! It is such a pleasure walking to the center every morning.

We have only had a few language classes, but I can already understand quite a bit and can speak some. The only problem with training is that it is so long and tiring that we don't have time to study.

We haven't had any sicknesses yet so we are happy, but we are still adjusting a little to all the rice. The fruit is great though!!

This morning we woke around 5 and left Sambaina at 6am for Tana (the capital). It was about an hours drive though the highlands with the misty morning clouds resting on the mountains. We visited the Ministry of Ag & the Tana zoo- saw lemurs for the first time- an aye-aye, tons of others, fosa and tons of other neat critters and vegetation.

The PC house is a nice break. We ran in to claim our room- it is like a hostel with all your friends staying there. I had a hot shower for the first time!!! We also watched some movies and ordered in pizza- spoiled! Enjoying it while we can.

Tomorrow we also have to wake around 5am. We leave Tana on Monday morning and go to the PC training center in Mantasoa, where we will stay for 2 days and then we visit our site for 5 days!! We are going to be living in Anosibe An'Ala- near the primary rainforest where the Indri Lemurs live (so they say). It is one of the closest sites to Tana, has mostly paved roads there and we hear it is beautiful. We are going to be the first volunteers in this community so we have a lot of work to do. The community is excited to have us come & are already talking about us!!

Lovin' Madagascar,
Jenny & Aaron
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