It’s hard to believe it’s been over a year since we first set foot in Madagascar. I can remember getting off the plane and being filled with a sense of peace – I knew we were “home”. Over the past year that peace has remained but there have also been quite the array of other emotions and feelings. I’ve had several colleagues that have done some unique blogs reflecting on their 1st year on the field and thought (even though I’m a little late) that we’d share with you some things that this past year has brought. Below you will find some examples of why we have indeed experienced every emotion possible!
Our 1st family picture in Madagascar - July 2011
Open? Closed? On Break???Most places in Madagascar close somewhere in the neighborhood of 12 until 2. However, we have learned that you really have no idea which places these are or if 12 really means 11:30 or 12:30. Opening at 2 seems to be optional depending on who is working, if the person with the key decides to show up, or if they just need more rest that day. There are normally no signs posted to tell you “hours” that the shop (if you want to call it that) might be open – more than likely b/c it changes on a daily basis.
Early Bird Dinner
This does not exist here. Yep, seriously. There are no early bird discounts or “beating the dinner crowd” to the nearest restaurant. Why? Well, I can’t really give you an answer except that no place is open from lunch through dinner – they all still close for their “break” and most of the time the chef doesn’t come to work until somewhere around 7pm. Occasionally, there is a place that will allow you to come in around 6ish but there will be no food until the chef arrives!!
Grocery ShoppingWhen you see something that looks good – you buy it. It could not be there tomorrow – or again for 3 months. Just because something is being sold on a shelf does not mean that it has not expired or that there are not holes in the can where the insides have completely leaked out. If it’s in the “cold” section, it is not a guarantee (probably the opposite of) that it has stayed at a cold temperature for a complete 24 hours (multiply that by however long it’s actually been in the store).
DrivingThere are no rules. People can be run over by bicycles. There are no rules. There is no limit to how many people can sit in a 15 passenger bus. There are no rules. Often, it is not the “best road” choice but rather “which way is not the worst road” choice. There are no rules. You can get a ticket for parking in the same spot that you have every single week (without getting a ticket before). There are no rules.
BanksThere are no drive thrus. There is a line inside…which has no rules. If you are important you go to the front. If you are not important you sit and wait…for hours. Going to an ATM does not guarantee you money, since there is not always money inside of them.
Electricity/InternetWe’re blessed where we are – that is for sure. On the days when it does go out for a few minutes or a few hours…well, it is just out. There is no phone number to call. There are no quick fixes. You just break out the flashlights and enjoy the darkness & heat J
One year after arriving in Madagascar