Our Home in Anosibe An'Ala

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

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Tuesday, May 2, 2006

Hi everyone!

Well, we are officially Peace Corps Volunteers! Last week we finished our 10 weeks of training and swore-in as volunteers. The ceremony was at the US Ambassadors residence in Tana- it was amazing! Beautiful house and landscaping- it was nice to relax in luxury one last time. We had a delicious dinner and even apple pie for dessert! The little things in life (cookies and pie) excite us!!

We said goodbyes to our PCV friends last Thursday and all headed our own ways across Madagascar. Saturday we spent our first night in our new home in Anosibe An'Ala! It is so beautiful here, primary rainforests, a winding river through town, banana trees everywhere.

We spent the first day cleaning- it is kind of like moving into a dirty barn (20 foot by 15 foot). Cement floors, wood plank walls (with a lot of gaps), cobwebs, dirt and a corrugated tin roof. It is not the most attractive building but it has been fun fixing it up the past two days. Aaron has become quite the handyman! Yesterday he carved a stick into a needle to sew together plastic material that we are using as a ceiling. Today he spent about an hour carving a stick into a shovel handle! It looks good!

The community built us a fence and gate which is really nice and also a brand new latrine- it smells wonderful!!! Oh the joys of life in Madagascar. Our neighbor has a little scrawny dog- probably the ugliest thing I have ever seen- and he crawls through our fence and lays in our yard. I think he likes us- he sits on our doorstep and looks in as we eat. Of course Aaron fed him and now he will never leave. We were planning on getting a kitten, but "Madoor" may be our new friend! He is so ugly- you have got to see a picture of him to believe it!!! Even with our fence we have chicken and duck parades through our yard! Yesterday a bunch of chickens got in and were roosting in the dirt in the backyard. We are going to need to patch up the fence before we plant our garden or there won't be anything left.

Getting water is hard though- there are only a few hours during the day when the pumps are working and when they are there is a line of like 20 people! Often the pump by our house dries out and we have to walk down the hill rather far to fetch water. I thought I'd die the first time I carried it back to the house, but I should have some serious muscles after 2 years!

As I mentioned earlier, our house sits on a large hill. Our doors face the sunset (which is beautiful beyond the mountains) and in the morning we watch the fog as it clears out of the valley below. Oh- the stars at night are amazing and the Milky Way goes right over our house- amazing! The people are so friendly also and I can't wait to improve my Malagasy so I can communicate with them more. We have electrictiy for a few hours in the evening and a few hours in the morning which is nice. Today a local carpenter came and started building shelves for us. We dont have any furniture yet- we are sleeping on a single sized foam matress and cook and prepare food on the floor. A friend stopped by and said it is "pittyable" living like this- he said we were living like poor people! Our friend is going to build us a table.

We are getting into our new routine- it is so nice having our own house finally. We loved our host family, but it is nice to be on our own. Aaron cooks all the meals and of course there is nothing prepackaged so meal prep is time consuming. We have no meat or bread in our town, no refrigeration, no dairy and no oven so figuring out what to eat is a bit of a challenge. You can't just have cereal for breakfast and a sandwich for lunch! Aaron cooks awesome meals though- at the market 74 km away we get fresh green beans, carrots, tomatoes, squash, onions, garlic, ginger and fruits- bananas, lithchis, oranges (.05 cents a pound!). The prices of things is incredible- I think rice is also 5 cents a pound and our hotel in our banking town is 5 dollars a night with hot shower and toilet!

We work with a counterpart organization and are receiving grants through them to do various work in our community. We are still unsure of the exact projects that we will be doing. We are supposed to figure all that out over the next 3 months.

So far we love it here! Our town is about 24000 people and we are the only white people there. The first night in our town we went to a huge concert by a famous Malagasy band (kind of strange because we didnt realize our town was big enough to even have this kind of entertainment but apparently it is) and were the only white people there- but it doesn't seem weird at all- it is only annoying when they think we are French! We heard there is an Education volunteer coming to our town in about 3 months so it will be nice to have another PCV in town.

Life is crazy! Sometimes Aaron and I look at each other and say "can you believe we are living in Madagascar!"

Here is our new address: (please write us- we do have email occasionally but it is slow and it took us 6 minutes just to log into our email account!- we would love to hear from you)

Hope all is well!
Aaron and Jenny
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