The Peace Corps saying is no joke…the toughest job you’ll ever love. The last week has probably been the hardest and yet best week in country. I moved to Alakamisy Ambohimaha, my village for the next two years. It is a village of 30,000, but spread out over a huge area of land, with 18 fokontany or neighborhoods. In the main part of town (what I call ‘downtown’), where I live, there is probably 2000ish people.
I got installed on Thursday, Alakamisy, market day. (Get the irony that market day in Alakamisy is on Alakamisy…). Which means that pretty much all 30,000 villagers were crammed in the ‘downtown area’ shopping and many of them have not seen a vazaha before. Savanna, my sitemate met me at the Commune, and went with me to meet the mayor, where no surprise there I had to give a kabary or in my case a really pathetic four sentence speech because that’s all the language I could come up with.
I was greeted by all of Bill’s–my predecessor–Gasy friends who immediately adopted me in their group and have been amazing with looking after me these past few days as I get adjusted. They even put together my bed in my house because let’s be honest, I would have no freaking idea what to do. And they had only known me for less than an hour. They’re awesome!
I got a mpatsaka rano (water fetcher) and mpanasa lamba (clothes washer) because I’m not very mahay at those things. And Bone, one of Bill’s friends (I’m spelling it the English way, but knowing my luck, it’s probably spelt the Gasy way or something like it, Baon) is my mpampianatra (teacher/tutor) and is going to help me become mahay in teny Malagasy.
My house/apartment is huge by PC standards, two bedrooms, small kitchen, and large entry room, so it looks HUGE with my bed, dresser, small table, and three chairs–the only furniture I have thus far. The walls are painted this light bluish color, something I am definitely working on changing. Paint has already been bought. I am putting in an order with a local painter who I am really excited to be working with the next two years and should have some awesome artwork coming soon. As soon as I get fully tamana (settled) I will show you pictures of this ‘palace.’
Fianar is only an hour taxi brousse from Alakamisy so I see many trips into the city to get supplies. Or in my case, Savanna and I are planning on biking in on Tuesday. That should be interesting.
I had a meeting with Mr. Mayor yesterday. It seems the supposed three month waiting period where I am supposed to get settled and not do any work will not be the case for me. And that is something I don’t mind at all. English Club (with three different level classes) has already started back up, Bike Club is starting soon, and I’m picking up Bill’s projects: development of the village website, computer maintanence, assisting with computerizing spreadsheets, and youth IT classes (which in this case my French needs to become mahay as well).
So I’ll be very busy the next few weeks while I try to get into the rhythm (is that how you spell it?) of things. Cheers to the next two years. Until next time…FYFG.