The Day I thought of Joining the Mormon Church…
As you know, there are currently many Mormons circling the globe spreading the good word in places like Madagascar. During training, we came across a few of these missionaries, and heard a lot about them from the Malagasy people. This is the thing, they speak REALLY good Malagasy. Although my Malagasy is nothing to scoff at, I still speak like a 5 year old. Once you get to site, you realize there are all of these tenses you know nothing about, and have no idea how they work, and then you come across a word like “zany”, which means absolutely nothing, or everything at the same time. Seriously, no matter how many times I use this word, I still have no idea how it fits into the Malagasy language. From experience, I’ve observed that usually it is just a filler word, like instead of saying “um” in English, but then it’s used in confirmation, like “tsy zany”, “is that so” Yesterday, I was having a conversation with one of my Gasy friends, and I counted zany 6 times in one sentence… Sometimes I guess it makes sense, but most of the time I’m clueless. Maybe this is where the Mormon church could help me out? My understanding is that missionaries study the local language in the states before they leave for their assignment. They must have some of the most comprehensive language programs in the world, and I doubt they’d be willing to share with a Peace Corps volunteer, unless I’d like to dedicate the rest of my life to the church. I have yet to see a Mormon church in Madagascar, but I know they’re around. I think most of the missionary work is done in the highlands, because the Christians have SAVA. All of the churches in my village are of Christian origin. I think there’s a mosque in Sambava, but most of the Muslims live further North near Diego. But for whatever reason, we still have a lot of goats in my region. Whenever I ask what they do with the goats, nobody seams to have an answer for me. It’s fady to drink goats milk, and I don’t like living the chevre-free life, let me tell you.
Speaking of church, I was forced to go to the Catholic church in my village. My counterpart’s wife gets really upset with me because I never “visit” her, but I find her intolerable, and extremely mean. But the day she told me I should start looking into buying myself a solar panel for my house, I realized that I might be getting cut off from the electricity that they supply me, so why not try to make nice and spend 2 hours of my Sunday with her at the church? Now, going to church is a slippery slope for volunteers. I’m kind of expected to go every week now, and everybody thinks I’m Catholic. The only way to break this cycle is to visit ALL of the other churches in the coming weeks. This Sunday, I’m going to the FJKM (some kind of Christian Church) with the president of my women’s group. As a side note, I still say that I am not religious, nor do I enjoy church, and that I’d be more than happy to “pray” with people of the traditional religion (you know, where you feed the crocodiles meat because you think they protect your ancestors, a snake is somebody’s grandmother, etc.). That, I find interesting.
Back on the electricity thing, turns out my counterpart bought a solar panel (6 Million FMG – $600 USD, they tell you the price of EVERYTHING), which cuts me off. I don’t really want to talk about it…
Other happenings at site, well, waiting for Peace Corps to process my funding request application and get it up on the website. Trying to get that done before I leave for Spain. I’ve been in contact with the Red Bluff Daily News about writing an article, which would include a link to my funding request. It’s just around $1,000 USD, which should only take a couple of months to get full funding, but everyone is asking me about it in Nosiarina, and all I can say is that Peace Corps is taking their time with the application. Still working with my women’s group, farming peanuts this time of year. It’s hard work, but we need the money for our New Year’s disco. The president had a little breakdown in the field yesterday, as our peanuts have been infested with rats, and they had already eaten well over half of our crop. I have a meeting in Tana mid-Dec with an agro-investment firm that is interested in SAVA vanilla. More on that later. And, the big project for early 2012 is getting a public library in Nosiarina. No details on this yet, but I’ve had many requests. My women’s group wants me to help them build 2 new wells next year as well. Which brings me to my next topic of discussion: water.
There is no water in my village.
The wells are dry, and if you hear a rumor that a well has water, you wake up at 4am and go to that well to find a line of 30 or so people with multiple buckets waiting to “mangala rano.” I seriously waited 2 hours for water the other day. If I don’t wake up early enough, I don’t get water, it’s that simple. A few days ago I had to decide between taking a shower and having drinking water. You might ask if there is a river in my village, and yes, there is. The Bemarivo is home to the wonderful malaria mosquito, crocodiles, and pollution! The Gasys use the river to wash clothes, dishes, and to bathe, but they won’t even let me get near the river. I was pretty desperate for water the other day, so I grabbed a couple of buckets and headed down to the river (a far distance to carry water, mind you) and I didn’t even make it across the street before I was sent home. Oh yes, and in a previous post, I mentioned that I had a panampy who fetched my water. Well, before going on vacation for all saints day (Nov 2), for what she said would be 5 days, she asked for an advance on her salary, which I gave her, and then she proceeded to never come back to Nosiarina. Don’t know if I had mentioned this, but I also gave her a cell phone in September, and she won’t even answer my calls. Her vady, or “husband” (but really he’s her boyfriend, because they aren’t officially married) found out that she had another vady in her hometown, and is apparently going to bring her back today, but it looks like I may need a new panampy. Have you ever tried washing a double fitted sheet in a bucket?
And oh crap, I’m going to Spain in 17 days….