Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Christmas in Paradise

Some coral-like formations along the beach.

One of the wooden/grass huts on the beach.

Some Malagasy people we passed on the way.

On the ride out to Emerad Isle. Can we say GORGEOUS!!!

This is Sugar Loaf, a little piece of land that stands in a protected part of the bay. Five of my friends and I tried to swim out to it. Only two of them made it. Four of us turned around when we got 3/4 of the way and encountered jelly fish. Don't worry, they weren't that poisonous. Just stung a little and then tingled. Anyway, it looked a lot closer from shore and it was hard to see by the time the two boys made it back. Definitely should have left a little sooner in the afternoon. Thankfully those jelly fish weren't sharks.

For My Daddy

Christmas 2008: Diego, very northern tip of Madagascar. Take about a 2 hour boat ride out to a private beach. A few miles away from the beach, the water starts to turn this amazing color of teal blue. The water is so clear and shallow you can see the coral. Once you arrive at the beach, place your bag in a little wooden and grass hut. Relax in the bath-water temperature Emerald Sea. Grab a snorkel and a pair of goggles to catch a glimps of some tropical fish. Get a massage (oh yes, I DID!) on the beach or your hair braided (opted out of this one, but have already done it at my site). Fresh fish and coconut rice for lunch. Sounds like a dream and it kind of felt like it. Definitely didn't feel like Peace Corps, but didn't feel like Christmas either.

Sarah and me in the boat before we took off.

Me as we neared Emerald Isle. Notice the change in the color of the water?!

This is the type of boat we went out on. Big, wooden, holds about 25 people and a cooler full of supplies.
Here you go dad: This guy caught some fish for one of the other groups of tourists that were at the beach for lunch. He had a mask, snorkel, and a spear gun as well.

The remains of our fish lunch. These guys kept on bringing us fish, all different kinds and all delicious.

This is the fish they caught while we were headed out to Emerald Isle. They were dragging some sort of bait behind us the whole way. When they got this fish, one of the Malagasy men ran to the front of the boat, got the spear gun, ran back and shot the fish. Still not quite sure why. Tasted good though.
**Note: My dad will turn 49 again on January 10, 2009. Please, make sure to wish him a Happy Birthday.

Friday, December 19, 2008

consider these pictures your Christmas presents

I could barely get any pictures to load last night, but this morning things are working out. So, most of these pictures are from the Dec. 3-9 week when other PCVs came to my site for a week of work and food. Make sure to check previous posts because I've posted lots of pictures in the last week or so. Enjoy and feel free to comment on the photos. It makes me happy, so that should be enough motivation for you to do it. I'm going to visit my host family today and will report back on any interesting events and/or post photos.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Happy New Year, Happy Birthday to Tony, Lynn (belated but I still love you), and to Brady at the end of the year. There are most likely others and I have them written down at site but not with me, so I apologize. I haven't forgotten about you even if I didn't mention your name. Love to all.

The road outside of the community center.

The community center in my town. Not too shabby, huh? The married couple that my site partner replaced helped refurbish and add on to the center during their service. This is where the preschool is held.

This statue is located by the CISCO office and my house. These kids flocked to watch us plant the Moringa trees.
One of the sessions we had at the stand. During this one we (or rather the Environment Volunteers) taught the community members the benefits of planting Ananambo trees (Moringa in English) and eating the leaves. Dorothy (kindly holding one of the baked goods) and I baked some things to sell in order to raise money for the community center. Since the baked goods were from mixes sent from the States (thank you!), most of the goods were bought and then eaten by the Volunteers.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Cooking and Baking

For those of you who have asked me what I eat and cook. Beans and Rice. This is what most of my meals look like. Sometimes it's eggs instead of beans, but I definitely eat a lot of tomatoes and rice. More food pictures to come in the future.
This is how you bake when your in the Peace Corps. For lack of pot holders, I had to use my fleece jacket. Maybe someone could email Cabelas and tell them how I use their product; it could get me a free gift certificate or something:)
Let it be said that most Malagasy people cook on charbon (sp?) aka charol (sp? also). (Have I mentioned that I can't spell English words now that I speak Malagasy so much?) Most PCVs, however, cook on a gas camp stove, which is what I use.

Quick Pics

The man who runs the community center bought a lemur (this is slightly illegal, but students are supposed to go to school as well and that doesn't exactly happen either). People illegally capture lemurs and tame them, hoping to sell them to someone (they tried to get me to buy it, but what am I going to do with a lemur?). As you can see, this one is quite friendly; you can even hold it but I'm always afraid it will poop on me.
For Quinn. It's not exactly a flower, but I'll work on it. These trees are one of the things Madagascar is known for. This one is located right behind the community center in my town.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

One More...

Today, hanging out in the capital; a chill day after Salsa dancing last night. (L-R): Dorothy, Megan, and Kinsey (Always promoting Kampvilla. Oh, and mom, I have another t-shirt order list for you:)

Eating Turkey in Madagascar

Dec. 3-9 we had 11 other volunteers, mostly Environment but two of my Education friends came, at our site for a week of work, play, and eat. It was complete with planting trees, educating the Malagasy people about planting Moringa trees (look it up, pretty sweet) and AIDS Awareness, playing volleyball, going on a LONG walk to a rainforest and NOT seeing any lemurs, cooking turkey in the ground, and baking pumpking pies in tiny metal plates in a large pot on a gas stove. I even managed to pretty much lose my voice right when the fun was getting started on Saturday, but that's how life goes sometimes. Not sure what cause it. Too much talking since I was excited to see my friends?

The Thanksgiving Dinner was awesome! Stuffing, mashed potatoes, no rice. Lovely. I'll try to write more and post more pictures. I have lots, but have I mentioned it takes a long time?
Exams are done even if they aren't all the way graded. It can wait til after vacation. I'm in the capital for an In-Service Training that starts on Monday and after that, my friends and I will head to the beach for Christmas. Sounds like a tough life, huh? More later. Miss you all.

Pumpkin pie anyone? Took HOURS to cook since we had to do it one at a time, but tasted good! Thanks to the mother/father/family member of the PCV who sent the can of pumpkin filling.

Me, Ernestina, and Mino. My Malagasy friends...love them, but not as much as the ones from home;)

Thanksgiving Dinner in the Community Center of my town. Doesn't exactly look like a hut in some tiny village of Madagascar.

For my grandma, who always seems to find a way to get a picture of me eating during the holidays.
Me, Dorothy, and Megan during Thanksgiving Dinner at my site.

Ho Ho Ho Where's the Snow?

I loaded these pictures once already and the page had an error on the last one. LAME. So, we'll go event by event. My site partner and I cut down and decorated a tree Friday afternoon (Note: WAY earlier than my dad ever let us get a tree!). I still can't believe we found decorations and flashing lights in our town. Expensive, but they were there. We also watched the movie ELF. Fun times, but I'm having a hard time getting in the Christmas Spirit when it's 86 degrees out during the day and I am not under 3 quilts and dressed in sweats while I'm sleeping. I'm working on it though.

Me and the tree. I don't know what I was thinking when I posed like that. Guess I haven't lost any of my weirdness.

The Christmas Tree, Chase, and Barack.

You can always use a little help when you're decorating the tree. Two of the kids who live next to Chase.
In the pine forest right outside of town. Doesn't exactly look like we're fetching a tree in Michigan, huh?