Landed on the Red Island (July 19)

Globe Trotting Begins

A week or so into my 2 year adventure and it feels quite unreal. After a long and exciting 28 hours of traveling beginning at SFO -> Philadelphia -> 3 hour bus ride to NYC -> 17 hour flight to Johannesburg -> another 3 hour flight to Antananarivo, Madagascar -> and a final 3 hour turbulent bus ride to the Peace Corps training center, I have finally arrived!

The route was full of emotions to say the least. I am now settled in at my homestay family where I will be spending the next 4 weeks culturally integrating into the community, taking language lessons, and adjusting to my new home country. My host family consists of a single mother and her two teenage children. They have been welcoming, patient, and very accommodating. Before I begin to explain some of the highlights of my homestay experience let me make a comment on the weather. Since Madagascar is currently going through its winter season, it is very cold most of the day. At night it gets down to 40 degrees! I want to thank my dad for convincing me to bring a sleeping bag the last minute and shuffling around my suitcases in order to not exceed the weight limit on the luggage!!! I must say I have been quite innovative with my layering techniques in order to keep warm!

Okay on to my host family. The first couple days were full of smiles and inquisitive stares. Within my many travels I have come to the conclusion that when all else fail…just SMILE. Since those do translate in every language J My Malagasy is slowly coming along, and I am sure with time will get stronger. I practice with the local children whose patience never ceases. Children are great critiques and teachers at the same time, laughing at my silly accent or giggling when I respond back in my broken Malagasy.

Highlights of my first week:

  1. I made home-made peanut butter with my Neny (host mom). I have to say… Jiffy has nothing on home roasted crunchy peanut butter!
  2. My family has a couple pet chickens that roam whenever and wherever they like.
  3. My host family also has pigs in their yard… I believe I have now seen the world’s LARGEST pig! I was actually so shocked at the size of this pig that I invited other volunteers to see that I truly have a monster-of-a-pig in my yard!
  4. I play UNO every evening with my host family- this has turned into a routine game after dinner. It has also been a great way to learn colors and numbers  (up to 7) in Malagasy!
  5. Last Sunday I made an “American Breakfast” which consisted of some version of hashbrowns and chocolate chip pancakes + maple syrup (I brought from the states). My host mom could not believe that pancake mix only needed water added to it in order to make the little round fluffy things she likes to call “AmerikanaPankeekeeeess”.

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