This week we had a variety of things come our way. Getting a load of people ready to be baptized this Saturday was amazing, advising some kid about pilot training in a mixture of English and Malagasy, working the exhausting governmental system to try and get one of our most diligent couples married and baptized, having people try to cast US out of their houses - remind me to speak on this at a moment when I have more time on my hands - teaching families like it's our job...uh wait...it is :P.
I've got a low story and a high story: one of the most unusual and horrible experiences of the week took place at a seemingly harmless rice-shack at night. Going to have ourselves some good old rice and loaka, we bought a couple of sodas and mossied our way over, sitting down for our meal of hoped for delight, our minds were far from the horrors which awaited us.
The plates came to the table, and we dug in like the famished wolves which we are - permit the exaggeration, por favor. Within moments I noticed a bean an espacially strange shape. Reaching into the stew, I pulled the morsel out for a closer examination. To my utter astonishment and gag reflex, a medium sized roach lay in the palm of my hand. At first I thought, "O dear goodness...Why me?!" Then I showed Elder Slater, and we laughed about the predictable horribleness that sometimes greets us in the country. Then, setting the roach aside, we went back to work on our meals...why, after seeing the roach in the stew, we carried on eating, I will never quite be able to answer.
A minute later, Slater found some sort of non-at-all-appetizing crustation of dubious origin swimming around in his loaka. We pressed on, despite the double warning. The third and final sign, I ate my last bean in my loaka, only to find that the bean was a fraud. Within the soft shell of the bean, was straight up rotted meat!!!!! No explanation, are yo kidding me?! Needless to say, that hotely has been put on the blacklist mandrakizay.
Another, far more pleasant happening which I'd like to write about occured just this morning. Last week, about Wednesday or so, we some how managed to make our way out about an hour by car ride from the center of our area, in pursuit of new investigaters. Instead we found glorious vistas, sheer cliffs, stunning sights, and the actual rainforest. Seeing as the hour was getting to be late in the day, we
committed ourselves to come back on Pday, equipped with water bottles and hiking shoes.
And return we did. This morning a couple of our District mates met us at a half way point in Analamahitsy, and we then continued on out to the mountainous area in what is called the Anosy farotra. Taking a variety of trucks, cars, taxis, and just plain walking, we made the usual hour journey into a nice 2 and a half hour journey. Upon
arrival, we took pictures at some of the interesting architecture we found in Ambohimanga (the name of the village) and then decided to climb up the mountain, with thoughts of good picture oppurtunities and adventure on our minds. What we found was a little bit different than what I had expected.
Perched on top of the mountain was an actual fort from the times of the Malagasy royal family, feudal period. Of course the fort had already been turned into a giant park to trap tourists who had made their way so far out off the beaten path, so there was an admission price. The Malagasy in our group, Elder Ravelomahefa, only had to pay 200 ariary while we had to pay the exorbitant fee of 7000! An outrage! We
shouted, wailed and gnashed our teeth - again, exaggeration for the stories sake - we fought long and hard to bat the price down to a reasonable level. The fact that I actually have a Malagasy identification card did not seem to sway their stance in the least. The vazaha pays the vazaha price, was their statement. After long discussion that was somewhat heated at moments, we relented and payed the vazaha price, despite the injustice of it all. Kings tombs, ancient houses, artifacts and weapons dating back to 1500 AD. It was really quite the park they had set up there.
We swiftly declined the expensive tour guides, declaring that we did in fact speak Malagasy, not French, and that we were not in need of their assistance. An hour later, however, I did manage to get one of the workers in the park to tell me some
sweet stories about the ancient kings, spilled some olden times gossip about the royal family and such. Overall, it was a neat experience. But the final swoop of the expedition came when we went to a huge cliff that literally was above the entire Antanananrivo valley, and overlooked everything for as far as the eye could see. Talk about take your breath away! In the end I struck up a good conversation with some rich French and Swiss guys who were somewhat good at English. A fine day indeed.
And now, I must needs bring this email to a close. I miss you all, but not that much seeing as I only have eight months left to go. I guarantee I'll be more sad when I leave this place, knowing that I may never return and will probably never see any of these wonderful people again.
When I am too tired to pray for myself, I always pray for you guys. I love my family more than anything in the entire world, and I hope that life is movin at the speed of light for you all - it sure is for me.
Still praying for you, still doing The Work.