When everything hits the fan, just hang on for the ride.

The month of July. Murphy’s Law doesn’t even begin to describe what I’ve been through. It is a month I wish to never repeat and wish to never experience something like it again during my service. It feels like I am living high school all over again, but times the drama by a million. Below is what has occurred over the past 30 days:

Following the funeral festivities from my previous post, I got caught in drama between the lady who runs the youth center where I have been teaching and my unofficial counterpart. I found out she was charging my students to be taught by me which is not fomba and I went to my mayor with the concern. My mayor promised he would speak Madame about it, and he did because he is one of the awesomest (is that a word?) people I have ever met in either the States or this country. However, I later found myself sitting in the Maison de Jeunes (youth center) getting yelled at for twenty minutes for supposedly lying. Madame (that’s what I call her) decided to throw me under the bus and say the reason no students were showing up for my class wasn’t because she was charging them but rather because sometimes I came to teach and sometimes I didn’t; I wasn’t consistent. At first I was going to let it go and just continue on with the English classes, but when Madame decided to trick me into restarting Adult English Club (which I wasn’t comfortable with because let’s be honest, there are some people in this village who really don’t want me here and they proceed to make fun of me my Malagasy and do everything they can to put me down, but yet decide to still show up for English lessons) by telling me we were going to discuss the classes I would do in the future and then dropping 20 people in my lap to learn English, I reevaluated my thoughts. And when I addressed this concern with her, she proceeded to throw in my face that if I wasn’t comfortable teaching adults English, then maybe I wasn’t ready to start any classes that were the focus of why I am here in Madagascar, Community Enterprise Development. So, yea, I tapaka’d (to cut off) all my classes. Chances are I will restart them after my training this next month in Mantasoa, but I am going to let everyone sit and dwell on the fact that I am not someone that can be walked over.

My best friend at site is mad at me for not attending the funeral of the little girl earlier this month, no matter how much I apologize and try to explain that I just couldn’t emotionally do it. I had three PCVs come and take care of me for goodness sake, and they all told me they could tell how visibly upset I was regarding the event. But that didn’t matter to her, and since the day after the funeral, she has barely said more than a few words to me since then.

This month I also received my first electricity bill. When I first moved into Alakamisy, I was informed I would most likely be paying for my own jiro, which I agreed to. After talking to my sitemate, who says her jiro is normally 3000a at most a month, I said I didn’t mind at all. Imagine my surprise however when the Jirama (the electricity company) came into my house to read my meter and gave me a bill for 60000a. Yes, you read that right. Keep in mind, I am able to get by on living on 250000a a month, so 60000a is quite a chunk of that money. As I started doing some more research on how so much electricity could be consumed on my behalf, it was brought to my attention that three other houses are tapped into my jiro box and that it wasn’t me that was consuming the power, but it was the other houses. I left site for two days and when I came back, the electricity box had gone up 30 hours. How do you use 30 kilowatt hours of electricity in 48 hours? I didn’t think it was possible! When I tried to address my landlord, she tried to push the entire bill off on me and say it was all my usage. You know, cause I’m the vazaha and I supposedly am rolling around in money. That took a longggg time to sort out and I really don’t think it’s over with either.

Parasy became really sick, and I honestly thought she was going to die. She went four days without eating and was throwing up any water she drank. She went from the ‘fat’ 15k I got her up to down to just over 5k, just skin and bones. Going up and down the stairs was not possible and just walking to the plants where she could go to the bathroom took effort. I had to carry her to and from the cattle doctor in town who brought back dog medicine from Fianar for Parasy (he had discovered white people really care about their animals and will pay whatever it costs to get them better) which obviously made me a laughing stock of the town for a period of a week.

I fell down a hill while hiking the fady ‘mountain’ my town is known for. You need a special taratasy (paper) to even climb the rock because supposedly there is gold within the hill and the town elders are afraid white people are going to steal it?? I knew I was going down before I did and I did my best to land correctly, but anyone that knows me knows me and graceful are not two words that go together. As soon as I landed, I knew something was wrong. Our guides had this look on their face that said “oh shit we just broke the vazaha” but the only person that really took concern to my situation was my language tutor (who I consider like a brother and who by the way had just told me a few hours before he was moving to a town three hours south of Alakamisy, so chances are I would probably never see him). With adrenaline pumping, I made my way down the rest of the mountain and tried to act like I was fine. However, the next morning, I woke up and nearly cried when I tried to put any pressure on my food. Savanna turned Big Sister on me (and I love her for it) and had me call the PC doctors, who decided it was serious enough to get me med-transported to the Fianar hospital for an x-ray. Pretty embarrassing, and scared the crap of my PCVL in Fianar who only heard the words, Alakamisy, PCV, emergency, and stretcher. No broken bones, but a sprained ankle. And a nice weird little discolored bump on my ankle that I probably will have for a while. Oh and I lost my other big toe nail during that fall too (the other was lost during PST when Sarah’s host mom walked on my food). But at least I’m matching now! And of course, back in Alakamisy, I was made fun of for hobbling around with a wrapped foot. You know, because what else is there to do in town but to make fun of the white person? Obviously nothing.

And when I went back a few days later to get a copy of the x-ray to send to the PC doctors in Tana to put in my file, I spent two hours hobbling from building to building, being told I was a liar, no white person was in on Monday and that if there had been, she would already have the x-ray. I was informed my Gasy sucked and I was to only speak French, but when I explained I wasn’t fluent in French I was called stupid for being a French person who didn’t speak French (and they didn’t believe I was an American). I ended up making Nirina go back with me and then all of a sudden they did have the x-ray but they couldn’t give it to me because I was still a patient of the hospital (I thought I had left 3 days ago? Maybe not?…)

So you see, it’s been a really fun month. But I’m looking toward the future, and not dwelling in the past. I have IST at the start of next month where I will see all my beloved Stagemates again and then a small much needed vacation before returning to site and jumping head first into projects. Wish me luck everyone, and throw good thoughts my way!

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2 thoughts on “When everything hits the fan, just hang on for the ride.

  1. kimmie says:

    OMG…you have not had some good times. I have great news…yesterday a baby panda was born in san Diego so there is another panda so soon I hope to play the name the panda game and get the whole front desk involved in that. I know right now has not been a good month for you, but there will be UPS and downs. Stay with it and know you are gerring stronger!! I have had my neice with me the pasted week and we have done some fun things. I hope you are still having a fun time and know that you can make a difference one person at a time!!! Love ya and miss you!

  2. Melissa R. says:

    Christina, this past month sounds like it has definitely been the most rough and challenging of your life. I’m sorry that it’s been difficult :/ But at the same time, I really cannot be any more proud of you than I am right now. I know I say I’m proud of what you’re doing, but reading this makes me feel that you are seriously there for a big reason, and that you are probably the only person I know who would be able to make it through this. You are strong, you are intelligent, you are kind, you are SPECIAL. And everyone there who is speaking to you rudely and trying to squeeze money out of you or the people you’re trying to help is a fool. And anyone who is making fun of you is a fool as well, and most likely jealous of how incredible you really are. Give Parasy a billion hugs for me, I’m happy she’s healthy again :] I love you!

    Melissa

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