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Showing posts from August, 2011

A tale of a sunken ship....

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Remember my kick ass trip to Ile Ste Marie? The two hour bush taxi ride....the hour + long boat ride (with like chickens and stuff in the back)...
Well, we wore lifejackets....or what looked like life jackets....

But after this weekend...I'm not so sure... Yikes!!!!
Madagascar boat accident - 11 killed Antananarivo - A boat accident off Madagascar's northeastern coast and an explosion during the subsequent rescue operation killed 11 people on Sunday, including a government minister, an official said.


Nadine Ramaroson, Madagascar's minister for population and social affairs, drowned after "a wave capsized [her] boat near the Soanierana-Ivongo channel," General Richard Ravalomanana, gendarmerie district commander in Antananarivo, said.


"There were 11 people on board, four were killed," he added.


The general said that seven others were killed by an explosion during the rescue operation.


The minister was returning from a cultural festival on the island of Saint Mari…

Cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs Coffee!!!

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Starbucks VIA is practically a trading currency here. Especially the flavored kinds. I type this while I'm holding back tears (not really) because everyone I know is out of the flavored stuff. I have the plain, which is good. Great even. But on a Monday morning, there's nothing like a flavored VIA.

I've always been an iced coffee fan. In the USA, it seems that every coffee shop or cafe makes iced coffee. But I haven't seen the trend take off (apart from the iced drinks and Frappacinos, etc) until the last time I was in Canada. When I say iced coffee - I mean just that - ice + coffee + a tiny splash of milk. I am crazy for iced coffee.

But living in a country with :
a) crappy coffee
b) little ice
c) UHT milk

does NOT make for a great "iced coffee" environment.

Until yesterday.

Some of the good restaurants carry Lavazza coffee. It's actually pretty good. So good, in fact, that I thought I could make a concoction that would satisfy my longing for the Cana…

Mon ami Chauffeur

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Today's a Saturday, so we're all stuck in the office, but it also is a day where we usually get any groceries we need.

I try to go during the week, but the week got ahead of me so I went today. And got to drive with one of my favorite people in Madagascar. Our driver.

Now, I've had some SERIOUS driver issues in the past. For the first year or so, I strugged to find a ride to and from work. I could spend 5 or 25 minutes trying to figure out how I would get to/from the office. After we moved near the compound, things became easier. Also, after the addition of some more rotational staff, we got our very own driver to share. We could come and go as we please and it wasn't some kind of production.

But....the drivers' weren't always so fantastic. Not reliable, attitudes, unsafe drivers.....you name it.

And then, we get the fabulous and wonderful Arsène. Arsène is always waiting for you when you call him. Arsène will work any hour of any day.
Along with being a good…

Random Update

I don't have anything much to update. This may not be such a bad thing. This week has been weird like any other week, but  more normal.

If I had to provide an update, here's what's been going on that's exciting in my life
I had to explain to Moose the difference between "pop" and "poop" yesterday. Love moments like this.I try not to obsessively visit the Hawaiian cruise website. I try not to talk about Hawaii, or what I'm going to wear to Hawaii, or what I'm going to eat on the cruise ship, or what my hotel looks like, etc, etc. I think everyone I know is pretty sick of the Hawaii talk. I sort of got back into yoga this week. Forgot how tough it can be. I need to do it more often. My coworker/friend put a fridge in her office. This means so many things. I can have milk in my coffee (have been using powdered until now. And the milk is so-so. It's UHT which still creeps me out). It also means that I can bring in a pop or two. Right now the…

Yay Jetlag!!!

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I hate jetlag. I despise jetlag. It makes me (more) crazy. I'm tired, cranky, happy one minute, falling asleep the next minute, can't sleep when I want to, (more) overly sensitive....it just isn't fun.

However - this time going home the jetlag is going to be AWESOME. I will spend six days where all my meals are fresh, prepared, and available when I want. I have fitness classes (yoga, bootcamp, spinning!) or a track to run. There is even a coffee shop. Okay, it's not Starbucks or Second Cup....but it's still a coffee shop. Salad, milk, seedless grapes...ahh.... for six full days I have NOTHING to do. Nothing scheduled or arranged. Okay, I lied - I have a massage, a pedicure, and a manicure scheduled. Soooo tough.

This time, I'm counting down the days until I'm jetlagged. And as far as for when I come back...well...that's another story that I don't want to think about....

Whine.

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Tonight's run was cancelled. Because I needed to sit down, at the camp bar, and talk with like NORMAL people that act NORMAL and think NORMAL. (Now that's saying a lot in the expatriate world...)
But after a few days of dealing with individuals that act unproffesionally, think obscurely, and make rash decisions, it was just what I needed.

One glass of wine. Plus conversation that makes me feel like there's some kind of normalcy in my life. Whatever that means.
I feel a little more normal, but I missed my run. I'd really like it if somehow (and I can't beleive I'm saying this) the Running Room would form a chapter out here. That would be really swell.

Sailing cures all

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After not such a fabulous two weeks....today was just what I needed.
Now off to fall asleep while pretending to  watch a movie. Goodnight!

Hypothermic Fun

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I wanted to do two posts in a row so that I don't leave on a sad-oh-woe-is-me note.

There's a post that I never got to do about my recent British Columbia vacation because I lost ALL OF MY PICTURES. So thanks to the internet and Louis' kids that sent me what they had, I wanted to post one of my most favoritest (yes, it's a word) parts of the vacation!!

It was a tour organized through Jamie's Whale Watching. First they gave us these awesome suits that kept us warm. It was a warmish day, maybe +20*C, but we were going on the water and it was overcast, so I loved the suits. They also work as floatation devises.....just in case.
For just over an hour we watched seals, sealions, and whales. It is SO HARD to get a good picture of a whale!!! We saw quite a few and even got close enough to "smell" the spray of the whale. They smell really bad actually!!
 We got to a island and started a fourty minute hike.
 Most of the hike was paved in wood. A lot of the wood…

In time....

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I've skirted around the issue. I've written about it a little bit. I talk about it from time to time. I don't have anything more to say about it... other than...it still really bugs me.

Julien.

I don't like...cry myself to sleep or anything... but I just feel like I'm not totally back to my normal self. I have a few memories that pop into my head from time to time and, I'm frustrated, because I don't want to think about them anymore. I don't want to be sad about it. The reality of the situation is - this is Africa. This is a third world country. If I get this upset for every person I meet that dies - I'll never make it.

But Julien was different. I, along with a few others, dedicated all my energy for two days to doing whatever I could to help save his life. And it didn't work.

But when I carried him to the car - a grown man, older than me, maybe five foot six....that feeling isn't great. And the whole scene at the hospital in Tana.... the…

Nothing like some poop to cheer you up

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Because I think I'm the funniest person I know, I brought back this for a staff member, who is affectionatly reffered to as Moose Be (big moose) from time to time.
(not an exact replica...I forgot to take a picture of the actual gift).
To any Canadian that's traveled west of the Rocky Mountains, we have seen these bags of  "moose poop" at any and every gift shop. I was pretty excited to give Moose Be his gift. But he was on vacation when I got back!! By Friday - they were all gone. I'm telling you - I have a chocolate addiction!!!
Luckily another coworker was just on her way back from Paris and brought me some chocolates. These ones were even better and more closely resembled moose poop.
I filled up the gift box/bag and left it on his desk today. I saw him eating some chocolate and went and talked to him. He thanked me, and then I asked him if he knew what the words on the container meant. No. He did not. He just saw the "moose" part, and chowed down.

Wear Your Sunscreen

Since this is my blog…and I get to write about what I wanna, I’m going to do a little Public Service Annoucement about skin cancer and melanoma.

Most of the people reading this blog are from Canada and from what I’ve heard, summer has been pretty brutal, so if there’s any sunshine, you’re probably outside enjoying it. Which is great!! But wear sunscreen. Even on cloudy days. Wear protective clothing. Yes, it’s nice to have the sexy tan….but remember everything in moderation – and that that tan can come with a price.

In the past, I’ve been a bit of a sunscreen Nazi. I don’t burn and tan very easily, so I’ve never had to think much about sunblock. Until I was 25 or so, I don’t think I used much sunblock. But after 25, I'm all over people to wear sunscreen.

Since I moved to Madagascar, I’ve been good at putting sunscreen on my face every day, and while some lounge in the sun, almost all of the time, I try to get in the shade. I’ll admit, I do like that I have a tan. Especially here,…

Aloha!

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My work rotation is technically supposed to be: Work 6 weeks, Vacation 3 weeks. And repeat. But quarter end and other projects don't exactly follow that calendar, so I've worked a few rotations of 7 or 8 weeks. Which isn't always fun - but worked out well now - because I have a super short rotation this time (although it's causing me moderate stress....just because my rotation is short...doesn't mean my to-do list at work is...). Anyway....

In less than one month....I'll be flying from Madagascar to Vancouver and boarding this ship. Destination: Hawaii!!
(And actually it was just TODAY that I realized I had booked the wrong day to fly back. So I would have arrived in Vancouver just to miss my freaking ship....I have serious issues booking flights!!! Luckily I caught it early enough and changed my flights!!)
My travelling companions are my grandparents. They've been to Hawaii quite a few times, but never taken a cruise. I've taken a cruise, but never been …

Contaminated Carrots

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Hey! I'm less of a wimp than I thought!! I was all hatin' on my crappy immune system for getting sick this week, but I found out today that there's not ONE, not TWO, not THREE, but FOUR expatriates that have the same stomach thing as me!!
WOO HOO!!! My stomach's not a total wuss!!! It's just a regular wuss that eats food provided for us that regularly comes in with contaminants that the average westerner can't tolerate!!! 

That's good news....right???

Welcome Wagon

Surprise, surprise, I have a fever + stomach infection.

This is almost becoming a "welcome wagon" every time I set foot back on the island. When I was in Canada I went to the doctor to get all checked out (I even found a family doctor that will keep seeing me!!), but, regardless I'm 6 days into my rotation and on antibiotics again. If ISOS (our emergency medical clinic) had a frequent flyer card, I'd be at Platimum membership for sure.

At least this time I went right away so the effects were minimal and I can tell a difference from how I feel tonight compared to this morning/last night. Yay for antibiotics but booo for whatever virus is out there that my body can't fight off.

At least Bad Days < Good Days

Yesterday marks two years since I’ve moved to Madagascar. Sometimes I think I’ve grown. Sometimes I think I’ve become more immature. Sometimes I think I’ve become disconnected to the rest of the world. Sometimes I think I’ve screwed up my life because I will never, ever be the same person that I was pre-MG. Sometimes I obsess about ten pounds I've gained this year. Sometimes I wish for a life where I had my head in the sand. And was perfectly content to go to vacation to a Mexican resort twice a year and live in land of butterflies and cotton candy (but not actually butterflies, because for some reason I’m like, SUPER afraid of them). Sometimes I think I’m the luckiest person in the entire world.

A lot of the time, especially today - I feel like a sucky expat. I think that after two years, I should be used to the poverty/death/dead dogs lying in the road/inequalities.

But it still affects me. Sometimes more than I’m okay with.

I don’t know if this post will make it on the blog. …

Name that Crazy Tune...

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I may have brought it up once or twice....but the cell phone ring tones here drive me ABSOLUTELY CRAZY.

Well, today I'm suffering from mega-jetlag. And also having to suffer through having some computer program problems resolved. Oh, and ....the people solving them are just randomly guessing what to do....and I sit there like an idiot - while they take over my computer and try to figure out what's going on.

The first few times this happened, I ran around like a gorilla, getting mad at people, chasing down the entire IT department, kicking people out of my office... but today... today was different. I was jetlagged and instead of being tired - I'm goofy and laughing at everything and anything.

So after the first hour of the computer repair shenanegans had gone by, and IT guy #1 was talking on my landline to IT guy #2 on speakerphone, I was getting annoyed. Also, IT guy #1's cell phone kept ringing. A tune....where and how he got it is beyond me. I told him that I though…

I'm baaaaaaaaackkkkkkk

Well I made it.


I didn’t write about it, I barely talked about it, but - I was nervous to come back to Madagascar.

But I made it. I got through the day – with minimal tears even.

One on of my flights back to Canada, I made the decision that I would finish my contract and that would be that. Once my contract was over, I’d come back to Canada and live a “normal” life. After what I saw happen to Julien, I was in shock. How could I live in a country that had placed such a small value on a human life? I wanted to live in Canada and stick my head in the sand. Life was a lot more livable when the only starving kids in Africa I knew were on an informercial that played at three in the morning.

Then I started to read the emails of what the staff had been doing after his death. They rallied. They barely knew him (he was a driver assigned to one person, so they didn’t get many chances to interact), but they gathered together and went to his house and waited for the body to arrive (according to…

British Columbia Summer 2011

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