Thursday, June 4, 2015

Salama Vasa

The president of Madagascar was just impeached. No one here really cares about it but I think it seems like important information. Maybe? Aside from the government crumbling to the ground things are going pretty well.

Unfortunately I had to pay $10,000 ariary to get into the zoo in Tana, which is 20 times the amount a local has to pay. That's only $3.50 in US dollars but still, I could have bought half of a Chipotle burrito with that money. Oh and you know how zoo's in America have rules? Like "don't feed the animals" or "no tapping on the glass." The only rule here is "don't get in the cage with the animal." Which is a really great rule, people should totally follow that.

Leaving the city was easy, quick, and painless. And by that I mean it only took us an hour to figure out which bus to take while we were harassed by a drunk man who wanted our jackets and bombarded by homeless people who begged us for money. Easy, quick, and painless.

The drive to the first village blew my mind. It was so exotic, green, and mountainous. Madagascar is without a doubt the most beautiful place I've ever been. When we got to the rainforest we went on a guided hike and saw tons of lemurs. I don't have anything funny or sarcastic to say, it was just really incredible.

We began our research at the first village a few days ago. It's awesome. We've been collecting data on what food is available at local markets (dry fish surrounded by flies seems like best option) and have completed a good amount of diet diversity and food security questionnaires. The Malagasy people are so welcoming even though we don't speak the same language (our translator is awesome).

The Malagasy children are fascinated by us and love the scale and height measurement tool we brought. I've never seen anyone so impressed by a scale. Especially since they have no clue how much they should weigh. They'll step on the scale and it will read something like "27.2 kg" and they are SO EXCITED ABOUT IT. They also want us to play games and dance with them. I even got to hold a baby for a while and it didn't cry at all. It's also possible that my camera has 200 pictures of blurry and sideways Malagasy kids (their picture taking skills need a little work). Anyway, the research is so fun and rewarding, even if I'm having dreams where everyone speaks Malagasy.

Now we're in Tamatave (not that any of you know where that is) until Saturday morning. After that we'll be driving/boating/hiking to our final research area where we'll stay for about four weeks while surveying the surrounding villages. When I get home I plan on eating a gallon of ice cream. Anyone is welcome to join me but you have to commit to the whole gallon.

*When you have a mosquito net covering your bed and you wake up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night WATCH OUT BECAUSE YOU COULD GET TANGLED IN IT AND FALL OVER.

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