Well here I sit in a cyber cafe in Anstirabe. It is very cold right now and we have to wear sweaters everywhere we go. Ivato got cold from time to time, but never like this. I wake up in the morning, nice and warm because of our probably over-worked heater, and step out into the hallway. Then the frigid blast hits me and I just wanna jump back in bed and stay there for the rest of the day. Fortunately for the work here in Ambohimaina, I have never submitted to such temptations. To compound the cold, there is never any hot water here in the tub/shower/thing so I freeze to death every time I take a shower. Talk about pure misery.
My companion does speak English, if you speak slowly and supplement with a lot of Malagasy. Most of the time though, we just speak in Malagasy because it it easier. Rakotomalala, one of my other housemates, doesn't speak a lick of English and his companion, Oyukuo, can hardly even speak Malagasy because he is from The Congo. Needless to say, we don't talk much, occasional, really simple, phrases from me in Malagasy from time to time is about it.
I ride a bike eveywhere I go so, that has been fun, but very painful. My bike seat is in an uncomfortable shape and there are a lot of different things wrong with the poor beast. After a soiree we have at lunch today, I think I might take it to the bike guy and have it fixed. Overall though, I like riding a bike much more than walking everywhere and riding packed taxi-bays. My comp is a pro at bicycling, so I am usually about twenty yards behind him, huffing and puffing and trying not to fall over and die.
The best way I can describe the main part of Antsirabe is this: it reminds me a lot of a small town in Utah or Idaho. There are not many cars, so that is different, but it is still the nicest place I've seen. There are lots of white people here, which is weird, and it looks like they have a lot of restaurants. Anstirabe is, for a lot of missionaries, a dream area. The work here goes excellently (as our four baptisms last Saturday and three this Saturday testify) and the members are such a blessing. They really are the reason that the work has gone so well here in Antsirabe. Referrals come in fast. Our schedule is so packed. On the whole it is great.
The ride down to Anstirabe is a story in and of itself. Me and Elder Smith - the
other elder who came to Antsirabe at transfers - got a a little tiny and way overpacked taxi-bay on Thursday morning. The ride was pretty long and pretty uncomfortable. In my seat was me, Smith, and two other Malagasies with all of our backpacks and what not. Keep in mind that this seat could possibly sit three very small people comfortably, or two large American boys. As we drove though, we saw some
amazing things and some of the prettiest landscape I've ever seen in my life. Every now and then, we'd pass through a village or see one out on the mountain slopes. Once we saw a bunch of naked guys bathing in a river right by the road.
Finally we got to Antsirabe and met Elder Bingham - the zone leader - and loaded all of our luggage onto a pouspous. Another name would be rickshaw, if you were in China. So me and Smith got in one tiny pouspous and the other pous got our bags. It was pretty rough going for the runner because 415 pounds sat behind him. Later in the
day, me and Smith took a pous to the local Shoprite. As we climbed in, the runner said, "This is gonna be hard, you guys are heavy!" He then proceeded to grumble a bit more, lift the pous up, became overwhelmed by trying to keep down our weight, and dropped us flat on our backs. Apparently this was the first time that anyones ever seen this happen, so it was quite hilarious ;P.
Ok well I'm gonna go now. I love you guys mucho mucho. Wish me luck.
Veloma - e!,