Leaving Tana, heading for Toliara

This will be my last mail for a while. We met our organisation (SAGE) last Tuesday and they told us they wanted us in Toliara/St Augustin as soon as possible. So we are leaving tomorrow; hired a taxi-brousse (minivan style/matatu) and will hopefulyl get all our luggage in…Bretts bag with the surfboards is huge…like 2,5 x 1 x 0,50 meters…and weighs 70 kg. We’ll see how it goes.

We will then be travelling the whole day and hopefully do some stops on teh way. Probably going to pick up a french gilr in Antsirabe, who we met at the hotel and take her along for a weekend in Toliara. The weekend will be fine and on Monday we will meet Jocelyn; the coordinator for SAGE in Toliara. She will then take us out to our house, yes folks, we will have an entire house for ourselves. Two storey building. The catch? No water, no electricity, no furniture. So this is really going to be a challenge. Not just living in a house in an isolated village (google ST Augustin and you will probably stumble across a flight photo of a couple of houses on a beach and some sheds around…thats it!) but also be dependent upon daylight and have limited electricity (looking into buying a generator, matresses and a gas cooker…means I learn new french words every day!). As for the water, the ocean will have to do. And we will surely hire someone, we have the white bias after all, to cook for us and do our laundry. A little comfort for us and some local investment.

Anyhow, the organisation has still not specified what they want us to do. For academic purposes we have to write an Memorandum of Understanding, which is really hard if you dont know what you are expected to do…but they gave us a good first impression and tons of stuff in french to read…we will be just fine. I just think of all the fresh pineapple I will have every morning…and mango season is approaching!!

Leaving in the house will also strictly limit my internetaccess…I would have to go to Toliara, ca 3 hours away I think, and they have frequent power cuts and slow access. So dont worry if you dont here from me in a while, that just means I am ok!

Otherwie…I am still not able to givez you any concrete impressions from Mad. It is totally different from the other places I have been too. I am doing a list at home and I guess I will send it to you to give you a better feeling om my stay here. So far I can tell you that I had a big no-no ice cream today…totally against what you should have, but I still feel fine! Goes for some other fruits and yoghut as well, but I have decided to stay away from the strawberries, that does seem like a too big of a risk. The diary prducts I will cut when I am in Toliara, the power cuts are not exactly good. Will probably swith my diet towards chocolate then! :)

Take care now!

One week has passed…and I am fine!

thought I’d give you a short update. I am not going to do this regularly but when there is an option for it…and Tana offers that right now.

I have now been in Mad for a week+ and I still enjoy it. Sure, I am quite tired of all the noise and all the cars and the pollution but it is still a nice place. My colleagues came Fri, Sat and Sun, so we finally talked about our agenda and will see the organisation tomorrow. It will be good to finally know exactly what I will do the next four month.

Kristina and I went for a daytrip yesterday, to Ambohimanga (or Ambooimang as the malagasy say)…a castle, still intact, with a cliff where they used to throw slaves down…semmed to be a popular sport here, there are more cliffs like that…the best thing was that is was really quiet. We weren’t even apporached by a guide or anything. Had lunch a local hotely, small dark place where you immediealty expect to get diarrhoea, but we are still fine. I had soupe chinoise (soup with egg noodles) and is was tasty and really hot, which was good.

Today we went on running errands, taking photos and stuff for the visa exntension (all off you who thought that I was done with that stuff are wrong….Kristinas guide books says it is done overnight…that is also wrong. The latest is that we have to do it in Toliara…) and buying som stuff for Brett, who’s luggage was lost on the way here from San Diego. So no surfboards here yet…but he is all eager to leave immediealty for the beach. Or well, he was, until an hour ago when he realised he hadnt slept for two days and just practically went to sleep standing.

Otherwise, I spent many lonely nights in my room before my colleagues arrived. I actually studied a lot, and also read three books and slept a lot…seemed like a holiday to me and that was nice. I didnt mind being alone, it is quite nice for a change actually. And the weather is cold anyway, so it is not like I would have went outside anyway. I heard that Toliara is really warm and I long for that..surely going to miss the coldness, but this is not really ‘Africa’ to me. :)

We are thinking of hiring a car and go down to Toliara ourselves, car inclunding driver of course, cause we wouldnt find our way our of Tana and not even close to Toliara. When Bretts surfboards arrive he will lead the luggage-league with 70 kg…I am right in the last place with only 18 kg + 12 kg + 5,5 kg…it is more than I ever had before, but I willleave most of the stuff anyway and buy stuff here. There are not really any cool plastic things to buy, most of you know my love for simple plastics, but a lot of souvenirs made out of raffia or old cans…I will surely fill my weight max on the way home.

So, that is all from me. Doenst seem like I have much to write abput yet, mostly want to say that I am alright. Take care!

A Tana maintenant!

Salama,

ok, the keyboards here are veeeery tricky, so dont expect a perfect email…I am slowly setting in at Tana right now, things fall into place and I have leanred some malagasy which simplifies life. After two nights at the Manoir Rouge in Ivato I ,oved to Hotel Isoraka in Tana.

The croc farm was very touristic. And I walked there, made many friends on my way because a walking vahaza woman is not often seen. Learned that the sun touches a lot, although is is really cold here, trust me; i freeze at night and walk in long sleeves at day, the sun still gave me an unsyncronised tan…well well

Moved to Tana yestedray, shared a taxi with a guy fro, France and found the hotel. Called a friends friend who just got back to town from Holland and he was fantastic. first we had expensice lunch, he moked me for missing out on the zebu (better thabn goat apperently) and the local rum as well. then he took ,e for a spin in his co,pqny perk cqr, that was great. he currently zork as an engineer on a heavy fuel power plant financed by the dutch and the malagasy state…it was i,presseive; especially as it was the business side of development aid…then we went to la rova, old castle, burned down, bla bla, open yesterday only for the local olympique gqmes…lousy english guide ,y french actually worked far better. we then thought of staying until it got dark and watch the fire works, but grew tired and decided to leave. and made one mistake whiwh cost us the night- took a wrong turn got stuck in a s,all alley because everybody wanted to see the fireworks and well…had to stay. bought so, cracky kethcup chips and water; chris went for the broschetta (grillspett; schaschlik or just barbecued meet on a stick) and beer. had a lovely ti,e with 1 hour of fireworks…talked to a lot of people, held up a lot of children so that they could see and actually grew really tired of fireworks…

today; i tried to prolong ,y visa. even harder than in ger,any; trust me. i had to have certificate the la honneur; saying that i am a nice girl, written ,otivation adressed to the minister itself and this and that and 6 photos and ahhhhh…but i called the organisation i a, going to work at and got so,e great help. all i need tomorrow is to see the mayor; go to the ger,an embassy and back to the ,inistry before 10 oclock..great…

there is lots ,ore to say; like i think i ,ust have flown over your head MansVictor but it is getting dark and i need to head home. anyway, i am currently 1 h before sweden/germany, same time as turkey and kenya, 8 hours before shilo i guess qnd ten before vqncouver…

thanks alot also for all the mails, they made me happy!

In Madikasikara

I did arrive safely yesterday in Mad. I am in Ivato right now, the airport
town. Havnt seen much, had breakfast with croissant chocolate (I am going to
become fat!) and slept in a nice room without isolation and which reminded
me off the alps…

I will write more when I am in Tana (tomorrow or so) cause this costs me
more than a fortune. I am off to theonly torist attraction here: croc farm.

Take care all!
Ulrike