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Tsara be!

17.December 2011 - Madagascar


After four weeks in Madagascar without any internet access I can give you a short summary of my experiences now. Maybe some of you will wonder why I do this in English. The reason is that the girls of NGP asked me to tell about Madagascar, too. And they can only understand it in English while you guys in Germany don?t need to read it in German (thanks to Mrs Sholl etc. ;-)). You see, best thing :-) Don?t be bothered by weird words or phrases, I?m totally out of it after four weeks of speaking French (and sometimes French, German and English together).
On 20th of November I left Nature?s Gift Permaculture and Malawi after a sad farewell. I went to Kenya to go to Madagascar (I know that it doesn?t make sense but it was the cheapest combination of flights). I arrived at Antananarivo at night and spent a couple of hours at the airport before I went to the bus station in the morning to find out that I have to wait until the afternoon to get a mini bus to Befotaka. The bus was late but finally I was on my way and after a 15-hours-ride I arrived at my new WWOOFing place. The boss, Méline, showed me my room (in a small cottage on a hill without power but with a beautiful view). During the next days I learned about my work and about living on a farm in a small village in Madagascar. Besides helping in the kitchen and the household I worked in the garden for a couple of hours each day. Working hours were early in the morning (from 6 a.m.) and late in the afternoon (from 4 p.m.) because of the heat, which was unbelievable. Now I know that there is no summer heat in Germany and not even a hot season in Malawi? The work was the same every day. I used a tool that looked like a mixture of a spate and the thing they use in Italian restaurants to put pizza in the oven to dig and weed the soil. The reason was to prepare the soil for planting rice (which is kind of cool). My other job was to prepare and lead an English class for the students who lived at the farm. Although I didn?t get any introduction I liked teaching from the beginning. It is very different from teaching in Germany because the students are used to a very different kind of teaching and learning. But we found a way to handle this difference as well as the fact that they didn?t speak English at all and only a bit French while my French is awful, too. We still had some fun learning together :-)
Living there was different, too. I really liked my house which I shared with two to three girls from the farm every night. The food was simple: rice. They told me that there was no bread in Befotaka and so they ate rice three times a day. Sometimes I did so, too, and sometimes I got bananas, mangos or potatoes for breakfast and rice only twice a day. But I won?t complain, I like rice (and I still do). If it was Nsima three times a day, it would have been worse ;-) I couldn?t drink the water from the well without boiling it. So I learned to light a fire, to keep it burning and also that it takes me an hour to boil 5 litres of water that way.
The people on the farm were friendly but I didn?t get really introduced because they used to talk in Malagasy all the time (also about me, hmm?) and wouldn?t talk to me very often. And unfortunately on the last day they told me that I had to pay a lot of money for staying there (which is not what WWOOFing should be and which is also not very fair to tell me on the last day). This is why my WWOOFing experience is not that good in review.
But Madagascar itself is really beautiful! I went for a walk very often and found beautiful places. There are many beautiful trees, everything is very green while the soil is red, there are hills and mountains and everything looks very peaceful and natural. One day some people from the farm I lived at and me went by boat through the Mangroves (a forest in the water) to one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. We planted palm trees there and collected coconuts. I have to say that sitting under a palm tree, watching a beautiful exotic landscape and drinking coconut milk out of a fresh coconut is something I could do more often.
I also saw some other villages which were really nice. I always liked the way to the villages best because watching the landscape out of the mini bus is like sightseeing.
And of course I saw some nice animals. Unfortunately there were no lemurs in the trees around (I asked for them, somebody told me that they were not there now? the question then is: Where are they? Gone to the south like birds?). But I got to see two of them nevertheless. And I even petted one ? I touched a lemur! That?s very cool. I also saw chameleons and lots and lots of lizards and geckos besides zebus, pigs and many other animals that live on farms. And I was attacked by a huge turkey that sounded like a Flammenwerfer (I will look up the English word at home ;-)) when he tried to boast. I?m not sure if he loved or hated me but he kept following me and once he jumped at me. Weird guy.
After three weeks on the farm I went back to the capital city, Antananarivo, on Monday / Tuesday. Because of technical problems with the bus the ride took me almost 24 hours. In Antananarivo I lived in a hotel (more like a hostel but it had a toilet and running water! I was impressed!) and spent my days with a very nice family. The father, Rody, is related to people at the WWOOFing place and invited me to spend my time here with his wife Lisy and son Rudi (while he is gone for work again). Rudi is named after Rudi Völler, because Rody is a big fan of German football ;-) They showed me the city and invited me to every meal, they talked a lot to me and sometimes Lisy and I even talked in German (she learned it years ago) to give her the chance to practice. I felt very welcome here and it was a nice ending for my time here after a mixture of beautiful impressions and sometimes not that nice experiences.
Now I?m looking forward to seeing all my beloved people at home and celebrating Christmas with them. Wish all of you a Merry Christmas and a happy new year! :-)