Veloma Madgasikara – Hello Lund

Hi everyone,

I have not written in a long time, but I can assure you that I am fine; as fine as you can be having been ill for two weeks and constantly changing the location of your bed because the roof is really leaking…anyhow, I am not sure whether this is the final letter or not, there might be one with post-comments on my five month stay in Madagascar. Meanwhile, let me give you the latest, which I will email off having just a couple of hours left on Madagascar.

I am not really sure what to write, but I will tell you that I actually had a good Christmas. Some of you were worried, first Christmas without family and no Kartoffelsalat, but it was ok. Bizarre due to the constant heat, the Malagasy dancing and well, I can’t remember the last time I had rice for Christmas. But both our and the mayors Christmas parties turned out really well and everyone was happy. New Years Eve I spent on my own in the house, the other three had left for Toliara and a cabaret and sea food buffet which was not in my taste. I stayed in the house, had music playing from two churches, the Muslim neighbour and three Malagasy parties, so I did certainly not feel alone. I had the generator running and sat up and worked, the last academic effort I remember doing, and went to be straight after 00.00.

My research is completed. Despite the blow that my photos have virtually disappeared, a blow that is harder considering that all social pictures are gone too, I am very happy with the results and I do think that my thesis will be good. I am very tired of writing though, hence no progress has been made in the last few weeks. I decided to actually have some kind of vacation – on a sunny beach, with cheap housing and food and amongst friends; it could not have been better. I managed to take time off, and most you know how hard it is for the German in me to relax. All academic ambitions just disappeared and even the enthusiasm for the report for our host organisation was on a minimum in January. The downside was that the weather was not the greatest. Two cyclones passed along the Channel of Mozambique/West Indian Ocean and for days no bus, no pirogues and no movements occurred in town. We had lunch and dinner inside; we slept again inside the house but had to move around as we discovered that the roof leaked on various places and got on each others nerves. We were so accustomed to having a lot of space but this was new to us. Arif had by this time left us though, he went home to Turkey early January, so we were only three ordinary people in the house. In between the cyclones the Brighton students knock on the door, they are here on a field expedition and live in tents doing biodiversity transects for WWF, and ask for housing. A couple of days later they move in with their entourage of four Malagasy students and hire a cook and a washing lady of their own – suddenly the house is more crowded then ever, but it turned out just fine. We played backgammon and talked about ice cream and pizza all day long. And the constant raining actually cooled the air down and we could you light blankets for once, that was a nice change.

A week after the Brighton’s moved in, I got sick. Shaking fever, joint ache etc and basically just feeling rotten. Everything settled down the day after, but resumed at night…as this is the classic sign for malaria, but without the cold shivering, I went to the doctor who diagnosed me with malaria, amoeba and the flu! That was fun, he prescribed me 16 pills a day for a week. Something did fix me though, as I felt better three days into the cure. Unfortunately being ill coincided with my last days in Saint Augustin, packing with fever was not fun but the German skills came through, and with help I managed to pack everything and a bit more. I have now basically nothing left to wear except my plane outfit and my backpacks are full of books and papers, mainly, and odd souvenirs from Madagascar given to me by friends.

After spending a last of couple days in Toliara, saying good bye to people and eating ice cream at the favourite restaurant, I had the saddest good bye ever at the taxi brousse station going to Tana, saying good bye to everyone that I have been hanging out with for over four months. Luckily, Kristina awaited me in Tana and I had someone to hang out with, it would have been far too lonely otherwise. The last days here I have been basically giving the report to the organisation and doing a last tour around town, but that is it. I am meeting Kristina for dinner in a couple of hours and then we set of for the airport, hopefully meeting Brett there and then we all take of from Ivato Airport, heading towards Paris and our respective final destinations.

It has been a really good stay in Madagascar, and if any one of you ever wants to go, I directly volunteer to tag along! I have many many more reflections in my head, but they all make me sad about leaving, so instead I am looking forward to be freezing in my summer clothes in Sweden and empty the fridge that my mother has filled for me on before hand.

Veloma Madagasikara!
Ulrike

Author: Ulrike

Well, never afraid to try stuff and always chating with someone...I am in for late nights, whether it is work or dancing...and I am a morning person too. My favourites include in a non particular order: Muse, Kylie, chocolate, coconut stuff and ice cream.

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