big city

August 13

TANA! So crazy. I’m totally in shock. There’s electricity – all day! – and traffic and tons of vazahas, since it’s the end of tourist season and they’re all leaving from Tana over the next few weeks. It’s really weird to see them everywhere. We’ve become so used to being a novelty.

Today we left Ranomafana around 6:30 am. This was actually really incredible because… Charles did set his cell phone alarm for 6am, since we were supposed to load our bags into the Land Rovers at 6:15. BUT, he forgot that his phone was on silent mode, so of course, it didn’t wake us up. My internal clock woke me up, and it was still dark. I went to the bathroom, not knowing what time it was, and got back into bed, but was sort of surprised when I heard a voice outside on the path that sounded like Jamila’s. I asked Charles, “dude, what time is it?” He looked at his watch and started into a beautiful  string of Quebecois curses (which was rather shocking, so I won’t detail it here), because it was 6:15. We rolled out of bed, hit the lights, and started jamming stuff into our backpacks, riding a great adrenaline rush, which was made even more exciting when Charles took two seconds to put on the song “Coulibaly” by Amadou and Mariam – wordpress won’t let me post it, but if anyone wants to hear it, I can email it to you. It’s sort of an urgent-sounding djembe jam. We were laughing our asses off and scrambling around, looking under beds… we ran up the path with our backpacks, and actually managed to have everything in the vehicles by twenty after six. Bam!! The drive was so beautiful, though it was extremely long. It’s really amazing how drastically the landscapes changed between Vondrozo and up here in the plateaus. The houses are built differently (better), the rice paddies are beautiful and precise, even the people look different…

Charles, Jamila and I sat in the back of the Land Rover, driven by Kosa, with Marlin in the passenger seat. We listened to the Beastie Boys and Cake, Jamila rested her sticky honey-covered foot on my lap, and Charles and I worked out a system of snoozing where our heads propped each other up. We stopped in a few places to buy souvenir-y things, and I am really quite in love with a big carved wooden bangle that I bought for myself. I bought Manora one too, because today’s her birthday! Yay. Tonight, to celebrate, we went to la Varangue for an aperot (the fancy restaurant where we had dinner one night in May), and then walked around and picked a restaurant at random, called Le Rossini. It turned out to be unbelievable, particularly the desserts, of which we each ordered a different one and then passed the plates around the table, oohing and ahhing. Charles had an upset stomach and stayed at the hotel, so it was just ladies, and we encouraged Manora to flirt shamelessly with the waiters – they love her, and it is her birthday. And I talked to Ryan! He’s been doing Peace Corps training in Tana for the past week or so, and he’s coming to meet us at the Cookie Shop tomorrow. So excited.

Anyway. We’re totally exhausted, and Jamila and I are both journal-writing in our little twin beds, back in Hotel Aina, where we all first met. It feels like we’ve come full circle…

August 14

I just checked my email. WHAT?! What’s this inter-web? This morning we wandered around the city, window shopping and feeling overwhelmed by the noise, dirt and crowds. We finally found the Cookie Shop, complete with Ryan and a bevy of his Peace Corps friends. Ryan’s infected wounds, which never fully healed after inventory, have made him fairly sick, and the Peace Corps doctor has him on antibiotics. Ewww. But they’re looking better… We went back to Le Rossini for dinner tonight, with about twenty five Peace Corps folks. It was so wonderful, and we had a great time together… they’re a fun bunch. Jamila has her eye on one already…

August 18

I’m sitting at Hotel Colbert with Jamila and Sarah, feeling pretty useless in the analysis of the data that we all collected during our household study. We’ve been painstakingly entering it all into Excel tables over the past few days, and the report is underway. Unfortunately, I won’t be here to see the end result – my flight leaves at 5 am tomorrow! Ugh.

So, yesterday I met with Marlin to pitch my “proposal”, if you can call it that. [Note: see the next entry for details on “the proposal”… I’m trying to keep it mysterious.] It went SO well, and he’s totally in favour of my return to Vondrozo, and said that he’s impressed by my motivation. Yes! This sets me up for lots of things to do when I get home…

Charles giving Jamila drum lessons on the patio at SakaManga

Charles giving Jamila drum lessons on the patio at SakaManga!

Last night, I went to dinner at SakaManga with Jamila, Charles, Manora, Ryan, and Tess, a PCV from Boulder, Colorado. It was the greatest dinner of life. We had a drink (or two) in the beautiful garden patio, and then had a most glorious meal. The restaurant was beautiful and we got a bottle of wine, which was far better than the disastrous vinegar episode of my first night in Tana. The conversation was stimulating and the company was ideal, and the waiter was cute (though he wasn’t taking Manora’s hints), and we were all a teensy bit tipsy so we sort of floated home on a cloud of happiness.

Me and Mano at SakaManga

Me and Mano at SakaManga

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