household study in Vohimary Nord, part two.

August 1

Jamila had Florent dig a rather large and well-developed parasy out of her foot this morning. Ugh! I still haven’t had any, thank goodness.

Sarah and I just did six surveys in the village with Robson and a Conservation International guy who’s also in Vohimary for the week. He was really great, and his French is wonderful, so with his French and Robson’s knowledge of the local dialect, we were set. Robson totally blew me away. One of the questions in the survey is “X makes up what proportion of your total agricultural activity?” where X is a particular crop – rice, manioc, sweet potatoes, etc. For each person we interviewed, Robson drew a circle, then divided it into a pie chart, to basically explain to each one what “percentage” means, without using actual numbers. For people who stopped going to school at age 12, it’s often quite complicated. But Robson did such a great job, and was so patient, and each person would draw their own little pie chart. It was so interesting that the 4 hours passed really quickly.

Vohimary kids (Oritas with the baby)
Vohimary kids: Moniky on the left, Dada in the front, Oritas holding Gnene

After dinner, the clique of little girls (who have been following me around) came in and did a slightly overwhelming performance of kilalaky for me and Sarah. It was really adorable, actually. Oritas, the daughter of the woman who’s cooking for us, totally reminds me of myself as an eight year old. Sort of shy, hanging out with the loud girls but not loud herself, totally afraid of public embarrassment. She is quickly becoming my favourite.

August 2

coffee bliss
Coffee bliss. (Note our washing bucket outside, which Oritas sweetly brought us every morning to wash our faces.)

This morning I woke up to go to the bathroom at around 4 or 4.30 am, and the sky was perfectly clear, blanketed with more stars than I’ve ever seen at the same time. The milky way was truly opaque, and I wanted to stay out and stare forever, but I was freezing cold. The mist between the hills was especially beautiful this morning too, and we sat with the tent flaps open while we drank our coffee, watching the mist dissipate and the aomby wandering by (“mitsangatsangana”). And somehow, it took the kids about an hour to start bugging us this morning, so it was pretty cute when they showed up. I think their moms may have told them to give us a break for a while.

Possibly my favourite photo of the summer.
Possibly my favourite photo of the summer.

August 3

Today is Sunday, which means that tons of the outside-the-village folks will be “in town” to go to Church, and we can do lots of surveys. It’s 11am, though, so we just have to wait for them all to emerge in their Sunday best. It’s really quiet, and I can hear singing coming from the church. I’ve been sitting in the hut for about an hour, hanging out with a gaggle of kids, looking through my books and writing all of their names in my journal and trying to read everything, French and English. It can be exhausting, but I’m really enjoying it, and I know I won’t have much more time to spend with them.


BAHHHH Ryan’s here! What a lovely surprise. I guess he was bored in Vohilava and came to visit : )

There is pandemonium in Vohimary Nord. A convoy of fancy new SUVs rolled in, and out popped about twenty Malgache people in Conservation International t-shirts who promptly began speaking English to me. What?! They’re all city-fied and well-dressed – the president of C.I. Madagascar is here, and he’s wearing a Burberry shirt, for example. And shiny leather shoes. I feel like such a bumpkin. We were chatting and he invited us “to join us for a sandwich”, which Ryan and I laughed about. We haven’t seen bread in weeks. But we went into the hut and sat in a huge circle with them, and two women opened a basket containing about thirty baguettes and two enormous wheels of cheese, and we actually ate sandwiches! SANDWICHES! Wonders never cease.

They’re the higher-ups of C.I., from all over Madagascar, on their annual road trip around the country to visit sites where the organization is funding projects, like the dam project in Vohimary Nord. I haven’t actually seen the dam, but I think we’re going down there tomorrow, after their awareness-raising demonstration. They’re all camping down by the school tonight, which I find funny. They have spacey tents and fancy stoves. It does make me and Sarah feel pretty hard core, though. The president said he can’t believe we’re doing this. Ha!


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