Sunday, June 13, 2010

06-12-10 update - ERIK

1 month, 4 days at site...

Today (Saturday) is the big market (tsena) day here in Ambohimahasoa. I don't think we're going. I really want to buy a chicken for eggs, but don't very much feel like venturing out into the cold and rain to walk around, get stared at, and jipped on the chicken. We also need to get some cloth (lamba) to cover our 6 freshly-acquired foam hunks, so we can complete our couch (seza lava = long chair). We need some place to sit other than the bed, as my back is developing a solid kink in the lower-left region. We do have 4 wooden chairs, but they were built when the wood was wet, so they're now "leaners". Polly is afraid I'm going to break one soon, even though I've lost ~20 pounds. I believe in their solid construction, despite (in spite of) her concerns, but not really. Our seamstress is coming by to get the cloth (8m) on Monday morning, so she can make the cushions. There is a shop on our road that sells cloth, so we can go out and get some tomorrow (Sunday), if they're open, or Monday morning, before her 9am arrival at our place. I don't REALLY need a chicken yet.

The house is coming together very nicely, I think. Other than the 3-week couch acquisition, furniture has gone rather smoothly. We have a really nice bed, a coffee table, a couple of shelf units in the kitchen, a table in the dining room, and 1 dresser. My dresser is being built sometime soon. The delay stemmed from a lack of dry wood, I guess. Polly keeps her stuff in the one dresser we have. She needs it more than I do. I have a pretty good suitcase/dresser system working. It would be nice to get my pack and suitcase off of the floor, and actually use our "living room" for living. Right now it's more of a closet with a bike in it.

The house is sweet. We're on the second floor of a 2 story building. No one lives under us currently, as the construction continues, and continues. We have the most elaborate outhouse (kabone) ever. It's pink, and has electricity. A guard, his wife and their baby sleep in the empty story below each night, so no one steals the building materials. Because it's devoid of furniture, and has a cement floor, we can hear everything going on below. This has been a source of contention for me, as Malagasy wake up VERY early, well before dawn. Not only did the baby start to cry at around 4:30, the guard would have people come over to talk about rice or something each morning. (For those of you who have ever shared sleeping space around me, please imagine my attitude regarding this commotion, under my bed, in an echo-chamber!) I took it for a month, but finally had to be my own advocate and remedy my situation. I asked the guard why people were coming here in the early morning and talking under our bed. I also explained that we could hear the baby cry, and that this was not OK (mety). I explained that we got up at 6. He seemed stunned. I'm sure he doesn't realize just how much we can hear.

Our last week was rather structured, following a week without any framework. (I finished 2 books during said week.) We're now tutoring Tuesday through Saturday. Our teacher is a cashier at TIAVO, my microfinance home-base. She has an aunt who was an English teacher, so she's very mahay (smart) with English. It really helps to be able to ask clarifying questions in English. Peace Corps requires that Polly and I tutor for a while at site, because we placed "intermediate-medium" on our language assessment. Those who placed "intermediate-high" or above require no such tutoring. Because we're here together, we can use English with eachother, which slows the immersed language acquisition.

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