With a new sitemate comes new experiences and new laughs. Savanna left Alakamisy almost three months ago to train the new stage of education volunteers and it became very lonely. I buckled down and finally learned enough Malagasy to get by reasonably well…ONLY took six months in country. And yesterday, September 18th, Liz, the soro’ny Savanna as I have been saying for what seems like three hundred times today arrived in Alakamisy. I have already had “first” experience, eating the tongue of a cow, very rubbery but no taste. Like the tradition that it is, I took Liz into Fianar to show her the ropes in the “big city” and have her help teach English Club (stay tuned for that blog post).
Liz learned fast that I do NOT like the word vazaha and tend to be very sarcastic to people that use it towards me. Normal responses range from “It’s true, thank you so much Captain of the Obvious” to “vazaha, aiza?!?” (vazaha, where?!?!) obviously looking around to find a white person, to even Saaaa-laaaa-maaaaa. Salama is the Betsileo standard for hello, pronounced saw-la-ma. When it comes to people obnoxiously yelling “salut vazaha” I pronounce Salama very slowly so they just stand there in dumb shock and I have enough time to walk away. I know, I know, I should be nicer…Poor Liz probably was thinking, “Who is this crazy girl they gave me as a sitemate??” but she actually thought it was funny. See what this country has done to me…I’ve become very adala-dala (crazy) I can’t even speak proper English anymore too.
So I showed her the market and where I like to do a majority of my food shopping; some of the mpivarotras in Alakamisy like to rip me off and charge prices higher than should be, so I do most of my shopping when I brousse in for the day. I showed her ‘egg lady’ and ‘salad lady’ as Savanna and I so like to call the women that sell eggs and salads…go figure…and then decided right then and there that I wanted to purchase beans to cook for lunch and take home the leftovers for dinner. I went up to the closest epicerie and asked the standard “how much is a kapoaka of rice?” (a kapoaka is a measurement in Madagascar, a little less than a cup at my best guess) and was given “500 ariary” as an answer or “deman-zato ny kapoaka.” I thought that price seemed outrageously high and thought it was due to the fact that I was white, and I turned stern face, repeating “deman-zato ny kapoaka” over and over in a very serious tone thinking this 14ish year old would know that I knew what it should be. I realized the price was not going down and walked away all upset and insulted that this girl would try to rip me off, cursing a little under my breath.
We continued on with shopping for food and clothes, FRIPPEEEEE!, and decided to call it a day and head back to the Peace Corps Meva before heading to English Club. It was then that I noticed every epicerie on the way was selling beans for guess how much…yep you guessed it 500ariary. So that girl was telling the truth, and I was extremely rude to her. I felt like the worst person on the face of the planet.
Broussing back to Alakamisy consisted of Liz continuously teasing me by consistently saying “deman-zato ny kapoaka” and the entire brousse laughing hysterically, including myself. It was decided right then and there, that I should probably not go back to that epicerie for a very long time…..oooooopssssss.