Showing posts from August, 2009

Brad and Angelina...I feel your pain.

I'm one of five women here. One of one women under...fourty or fifty.

The benefit of that? Whenever I go for a run in camp - If anything were to happen - if I fell or tripped - I have fifty men that are watching out for me and could come to the rescue and get me any medical attention.

The bad? I have 50 men watching me as I run past their window. And at least 5 people that I run into on my way to/from supper ask me how my run was. Urgh. Once I would just like to do something without the entire world knowing about it. Or at least the entire town of Tamatave.

How am I going to handle my non-celebrity status when I go back to Canada and I'm not watched every where I go?!?

This blog was gettting too deep - I just had to put a random and stupid complaint in here.
Two "Pousse-Pousse" drivers taking a rest before the day gets busy

Taken outside the Chamber of Commerce just after lunch

Taken on the way to work

Best. Weekend. Ever.

It’s possible that this weekend was one of the best weekends I’ve had in my life. It wasn’t perfect and had a few glitches (maybe I’ll write about those later) – but for the most part – it was incredible. And the part of it that completely amazes me? I’ve been here for less than a month and barely even TOUCHED the island. This experience is just the first of many, many more to come. Okay, on to my weekend. All project staff employed by my company (there are 4 different companies involved) were invited to a company party on Saturday. This is a big deal because most of us work Saturdays – so not only did we have the day off – but we had a party to go to!  We were told to meet at the Score (the Madagascar version of Wal-Mart) and then we were to be bussed to a local “resort” village for the entire day. For some reason – which still remains unknown – we were given matching t-shirts. We had been required to give our t-shirt size last week - BUT – sizes in Madagascar are NOT the same sizes …
Walking along the beach at Dahatsara Village
Lounging by the pool at the camp

Kayaking along the river

Project staff that dressed up to perform a dance. Each different color (minus their lame company shirts) represented a different province. The dance was awesome and so incredibly entertaining!

The coolest day of my life

This isn't the best video...but keep in mind I was dancing my heart out!
We all had these matching tshirts to wear, and somehow I got dragged up or had the guts to go up and dance with everyone at our company party.Basically, its everyone in a circle dancing away, and then one person goes in the middle and does a special dance. At one point, you'll see someone brave enough to ask me to dance and I in the middle.The video isn't really that descriptive, but just listen to the music and the noise and everyone singing along. It was so, so, so cool. I danced so, so long and it was so much fun.

I hate it here...but not like I hate mayo

The “H” Word

Hate can be such a hurtful word… It can mean different things for different people… and…I’ve found out…different meanings when living in different places. Some can use the word super casually (ex: “I hate when he leaves the toilet seat up!”) or it can have serious implications (Ex: Hate crimes). Some can be offended by it, while some use it every day.

So why am I bringing this up?

I hate it here. You read right. I have been very apprehensive to admit this publically. But I just did. I’ve thought of using words like frustrated or resentful – but they just aren’t strong enough to describe what I’m feeling towards this place.

But hold on a second – I just have to say - I truly believe that this is the opportunity of a lifetime. And that I am extremely fortunate that all my hard work as paid off (it doesn’t always for everyone) and that the advantages of this situation far outweigh the negatives. I’m worried that if I say I hate it here – that I will seem ungrateful or ignoran…
I drive by this park every day around lunch. The trees look thousands of years old.
Local lunchtime game of football. Can you spot the cow? (No, I'm not going to ever get over my fixation with the cows here)

A "light" rain...good thing I brought my rubber boots... (view from my office yesterday morning)
Obviously this gets used frequently... but not so often since my "drawaing a line" trick with the ants... My 1st wildlife sighting in the camp! I almost cut my run short to run back and get my camera. Then I realized I could probably run for another hour and he would have moved five feet...

I was just sitting at the tennis club eating lunch when these cows ran by to eat some grass. I was the only one that thought it was a big deal... Is it a coincidence that the club only serves beef?

My Canadian Rock Garden (returned...mysteriously). Its now kept in a safer location....
I'm looking for some more additions! (But keep them small!) Night out with Toronto and Japan Internal Audit team (yes, I live an exciting life)
We are always short drivers just stick the little guy in the back...

Culture (Shock) Club... :)

I did a lot of reading and research about culture shock before I left… but as I have learned very quickly here – researching and reading about something – is not living it.
Psychologists have discovered that there are five distinct phases (or stages) of culture shock. It is important to understand that culture shock happens to all people who travel abroad, but some people have much stronger reactions than others. I’m not sure how strongly its effecting me…but I wanted to take a look at the stages and see if any of them apply to me.
1. Honeymoon Stage: Like any new experience, there's a feeling of euphoria when you first arrive to a new country and you're in awe of the differences you see and experience. You feel excited, stimulated, enriched. During this stage, you still feel close to everything familiar back home.
I have moments where I think everything is wonderful here. Like…this weekend. I can’t imagine a more beautiful country or a more …
Mumbo Beach
The Lemur Park

Its not just me that can't figure out the currency!!!

Full Point - We watched this little guy kill and pluck a chicken

This is the little village that burned down last week

Catch of the day!

Elvis is everywhere!

"Surreal" is the new "Interesting"

I saw so so so SO many things in the last 72 hours that it’s going to take me a few days to remember it all.Part of my weekend involved having a driver take me and 2 Australians to Full Point, which is the “cool” beach to go to in Tamatave. At some points during the drive, I had to just close my eyes. I felt like my brain couldn’t keep up with what I was seeing and couldn’t process it all (and I was crazy hung-over, which didn’t help).It’s impossible to describe the scenery along the drive with…words… Beautiful, breathtaking, etc… can’t even begin to do justice. The scenery changes drastically from one five minutes to the next… Different types of mini-villages (lasting maybe a block or two), different types of forests, animals darting out into the middle of the road, strange creatures, rivers, lakes, farms (rice, pineapple, and another type of fruit we can’t figure out), lemurs (one jumped on one of my friend’s back!), canals, men on boats, different colors of people (as you get farth…

Le Weekend

A view of beach #2 from Fort Tamatave
I thought this was a huge spider....but I've been told differently.....

Night out on the town!

Full Point. Can you see that I'm carrying my backpack on my front? It was a tourist-pick-pocket-trap. The beach we went to after this one was TONS better.

FINALLY!!!! A lemur sighting!

Photos - again taken on the way to work

I'm not sure if this comes across in the picture - but the clouds always look like they are *almost* touching the ground!

I want to get more pictures of the little districts that I see on the way to work every day...They are teeny tiny little shacks. I wouldn't be able to stand up in one or even lay down in one. These tiny little homes are where the majority of the population lives. There is electricity for some, but no running water. Clothes washing/bathing is done in the river.

All women can walk with bowls, bags, whatever on their head. It seems so practical! Carrying things and having the ability to still use your hands? And the cows....always pictures of the Zebu..

My day at the spa

Ok – I SO wish I had brought my camera. My driver picked me up after work and I gave him the address. He didn’t know where it was, but we soon enough found it.She met me at the bottom of the stairs and we started walk up the very dark, very old, stairs. But the building was so incredibly cool. I know nothing about construction or architecture – so I have no idea what it was made out of – but it was so cool looking. I’ll have to make an appointment during the day so that I can take a picture. We walked up the stairs and I was greeted by another national. She asked me to sit on outside on the veranda and sat with me to talk about the different options. This place, on the inside, was quite nice. Very clean, done up to look like a spa, and even had a proffessional printed “menu” of spa services. It looked really, really legit (and came recommended to me by a non-national woman that works here). They have a lot of spa treatments (for dirt cheap) and I’ll be going back I think to try some o…

Friday, August 21, 2009

I couldn’t decide what to do for lunch today, so I took a driver and met Rox today at lunch at her office.  We went for a walk to check out the “country club” that has a pool, restaurant, and tennis courts. Now, this is not what we as Canadians would define as country club - it’s doubtful that this place would make it as a ghetto youth rec center in Edmonton. But, in Tamatave, it’s a pretty swank place. We ran into another expat we know, who was dining with a national worker, and I decided to be brave enough to invite ourselves to lunch. Lunch was zebu (local cow) skewers and French fries. It was pretty good! it’s no Alberta beef – but it was pretty good! Once again, I was lucky to have fabulous conversations at lunch (once everyone stopped bitching how disorganized the project is). My dining companions were a Malagasy, a Canadian (who lives in Montreal but originally from Morocco), Rox, and myself.  We don’t talk about politics or really anything of any real substance – but having a …



Wednesday, August 19th, 2009

Last night I was lucky enough to sit with 2 of the Paris consultants in the mess hall. One of them asked if I was getting used to life here, which lead to a very cool talk. I said…well, I don't think that I'll ever get used to it, but that not liking it (or giving up trying to like it) is not an option. I give a similar response when asked about the 10 hour days. Aren't they long? Um…yep. But to sit there and think about how long they are is far harder than just accepting that I work 10 hours a day and wait for my body to adapt to it. Its only week two, but I really want to continue to have that same attitude. I really thin kthat the attitude you have here will make OR break you. What I am finding hard aren't the things that I thought I would struggle with. It's not the country, the different culture, the foreign surroundings, - it's the logistic things. How I get to work? Will my telephone work tonight? Will my Skype work at all tonight? Has HR renewed my work…

After eating lunch, I went here:

It took me over a week to get here...but its less than a five minute walk from work (which, by the way, is totally how things work in Madagascar....)!

What Channel is the Evening News?

There was a fire that destroyed a village near Full Point yesterday or the day before. Full Point is a beach about 2 hours away from here where people can go surfing and swimming and the scenery is said to be breathtaking. I had heard bits and pieces about the fire, but everyone I had talked to couldn’t answer any of the questions I had asked and details were few. So I did what most Canadians my age would do. Log on to the internet, and Google search “feu Full Point”.I must have searched for a good ten minutes wondering why I couldn’t find anything…  and then I realized…uh…. Duh. They don’t have the daily newspapers here… I can’t pick between Global or CTV to watch my evening news… I have to listen to the locals to find out what is happening… and they find out through word of mouth. It’s not the quickest or most accurate source of info… but.. it’s the only one! Anyway, another interesting moment for me.

Proof...see how dark it is?!?!!

And I don't look scared at all....

Quick pictures

I know I haven't actually taken any real "touristy" pictures...probably will this weekend...

Here are pictures on my way to work.

It is safe to bike and chat on the phone?

On the way home from work.... this was the best shot icould get. It is soooo dark without any street lights. And of course...the infamous jacket. First it was left in Canada, then lost, then stolen...and then was discoverd to magically appear in my suitcase. I tested it out and it works fabulously!

Aug 17: The good, the bad, and the ugly.

Since I’m talking mostly French now – I’m going to do it backwards…The ugly1. My reaction to people just trying to help back home. I know that if I was sitting at home in Canada and someone called me with some problems, I would come up with some solutions with the intent of helping that person. That makes total sense. But what doesn’t make sense here – is…well HERE. In 99% of the day-to-day activities logic does not come into play. (I know that I’ve said this before. And I don’t know how to explain it… maybe next week I’ll have some good examples.) So, last night, after my run, when I was FINALLY able to reach someone (stupid phone, stupid internet) and they started with some “helpful” suggestions….I didn’t react well. I know that I can always talk to other expats here, but sometimes it’s nice to talk to people that I know back home. But – there’s a problem with that. No one knows what it’s like here. I can try to explain it…but, no one can really understand. That + my lack of consis…

It drives me crazy

I cannot stop staring at the France lady’s hairy armpits. Like – if I tried I don’t think I could grow my hair that long. Today she didn’t smell horrible though. So that was cool.Its Monday, I guess.

My 1st day off in Tamatave

Well it’s a long post….but I’ve had a long couple of days. I’ll start off with my Saturday night. It was pretty tame. I don’t know many people and I was pretty burnt out from the weekend, so I watched some TV and then went to bed pretty early. But, not before I discovered that a corner in my washroom had been taken over by ants. Luckily – I remembered some info that I learned while watching a documentary on ants last year – they will not cross a line drawn in front of them. In the documentary – chalk was used to show that they won’t cross it – but… I didn’t have any chalk. I got out my bottle of body wash and drizzled a line on the tile. It worked! The ants started FREAKING and would not cross the line. I wasn’t TOO terribly worried about them to begin with – but it was nice to know that they wouldn’t leave the washroom. I also discovered a whole bunch of the ants in my hairbrush…..AFTER I had brushed my hair. So… here’s the shocker… I didn’t freak out. I got out my comb – combed out …

My 1st grocery store trip

Went today with Rox to hunt down an iron, coffee pot, and tea kettle (hers electrocuted me last night!!) and I had my own driver today so we set out on the town.

I didn't really have a need for anything but wanted to buy a few things...

I was curious how much things cost so I picked up a few things

2 cans of Coke Zero (Ar$2800 or $1.60 CDN)
1 can of Coca Cola (Ar$1300 or $0.75)
1 small glass bottle of Black Currant Fanta (Ar$2890 or $1.65 CDN)
3 cans of Three Horse Beer (Ar$4200 or $2.40 CDN)
1 bottle of South African Red Wine (Ar$11990 or $6.85 CDN)
1 small bottle of body lotion - Malagasy Brand (Ar$2890 or $1.65 CDN)

For a GRAND TOTAL OF Ar$23880 (roughly $13.65 CDN)

Its extremely hard to judge how much things are... and some things are weirdly priced. But it was cool to finally go into a store.

Outside the store I experienced my first beggar child. There were a group of them waiting outside the store. One little boy followed us, motioning his hand to his mouth, banging on the window, aski…

Random pictures

I feel like I've been complaining a lot about it I wanted to put up some pictures to show you just how pretty it can be too. [and one to show how I can never have a shower without making a mini swimming pool on the floor - no matter where in the world i go. :) ]