The feelings toward Peace Corps Volunteers vary from day to day. Yesterday, I was efa mahay in Malagasy and ‘one of them.’ A mpivarotra even yelled at another vender for trying to give me the vazaha price–pretty much just double what the cost should be and that’s the vazaha price. I was even able to haggle down a table and two chairs from 35000A to 28000A which in itself is a huge feat for me. However, today, when I went back to that same mpandrafitra to purchase a bed frame, since I bought a full mattress the previous day for a single frame, he charged me slightly higher since they would have to carry it to the transit house. I agreed to this price though because I wasn’t going to lug this huge, heavy, wood frame more than a mile back to the Meva. I think not!
It wasn’t until we reached the Meva that I realized they didn’t have the planks needed to keep the mattress on the bed frame. Mind you my Malagasy is tsy tsara and after nearly a week of not really communicating 24/7 in this language, it’s even worse then it was. I tried to explain that there weren’t any planks and the security guard at the transit house actually stepped in and took over. A verbal altercation took place in which the men agreed to bring the planks if I paid them an extra 25000A, for their time and effort they said. If I had the language, I would have stood my ground and said ‘no, we agreed to 60000a for the bed, and that means all of it’ but in my Malagasy, all I could say as mety (fine/okay).
Thirty minutes later, they come back with the wood, cut the planks and the pins to hold the frame together and vita, they’re done. I gave them the remainder of the money I owed them and they then asked for a portage. I didn’t understand what they meant and explained to the security guard in the house and asked for clarification. He shook his head and in the Malagasy Betsileo fomba said ‘absolutely not.’ Another verbal altercation occured and they walked away without any more money.
As I sat dwelling on what just happened, Monica and Jessie came back from shopping. I told them what happened, and they said they saw both men walking up the hill smiling, laughing, and thanking them for their business. Gosh I hate being taken advantage of…
So moral of the story, stand my ground. I did today after that incident and started saying efa malagasy fotsy (I’m already a white Malagasy) to anyone that yelled vazaha or gave me the vazaha price. Take that ya’ll!
Veloma…love you all!