I have been living in Tsarazaza for 2 weeks now, hardly enough to tell you anything. But I’d love to invite you all to a typical day in my life…Mazatoa!
Sun rises around 4:20am. The town slowly awakens while I lie in bed hoping to sleep for just a few more hours!
Around 6:30 I begin to rouse myself and open the shutters to the shiny world of Tsarazaza. If people are out and about, they call out “Salama o!” to me, and a few feel compelled to tell me I am “Natory atoandro ianao” (sleeping till noon). I go about the house doing some small morning chores: put up the mosquito net, make my bed and bid adieu to the fleas until the evening hours, take my Po to the kabone and empty it as well as use the facilities (my Po is named “Edgar”), boil some water for coffee or tea and decide what I will eat for breakfast, was dishes if I left them from the night before, enjoy the morning. My favorite breakfast so far is pancakes with honey and bananas.
At about 9am, I head to the CSB (or hospital) to work–either CPNs (prenatal checkups), weighing babies, or doing vaccines. I generally help with paperwork, play with the babies, and try to talk to the women as much as I’m able.
After work, mid-morning, I stroll around the commune a bit, saying hello, playing with the kids, or stopping at an epicierie for some mofo (bread).
Noonish, I try to figure out what I’m going to do for lunch. Occasionally there are leftovers from the night before. If I have bagettes still, I may make a sandwich, or some rice with stir fried veggies. Peanuts and cilantro are the perfect toppings.
After lunch I wash dishes and miala sasita (rest) a bit…maybe read or write a letter. Sometimes if I have some sewing to do I’ll sit on the balcony and do that.
The afternoon is filled up with fetching buckets of water, and bathing in my outdoor shower area, if it is a bathing day. Little kids stop by my house to color in my basement sometimes, or I wander about and chat. Small talk is a whole ‘nother ball game here. It basically consists of telling people what they are doing, they confirm it and tell you what you are doing. You confirm and it goes as such. I’m still not sure how the conversation is supposed to end…Usually I see Cynthia, a 2 year old who calls out my name, says “Salama” and shakes my hand. If she is eating something, she shares with me. We talk a bit and say “Bye-bye-o!” She breaks my heart!
Usually, around 3:30pm the storm starts building, as it is the rainy season. The sky clouds up, the wind blows, and by 4 it is pouring rain like you would never have imagined. It’s awesome! And it’s a good excuse to stay inside. I play guitar, read, do crosswords, think about studying, etc.
I try to start thinking about dinner around 5pm, if I haven’t been brought a heaping plate of mangahazo (cassava) from the ladies next door already. Generally a rice stir fry type thing…sometimes pasta. I try to be creative, but I have limited options and no fridge! 😊 I have mastered an amazing spicy peanut sauce that improves the mangahazo 100%!!
After dinner, it is dark (around 6:30pm). I try to muster courage to do the dishes I’m not too lazy. Sometimes I make some hot cocoa (thanks dad!) or tea and write letters. Read. I try to stay up till around 10pm, but it’s hard because it’s dark and candles can only do so much. I crawl into bed with my fleas and listen to the rats romping aound in the ceiling about 8pm, pulling down my unnecessary mosquito net and feeling unreasonably safe and happy.
It’s been a good two weeks, and its hard to sum it all up in any form. Every day is a new, long, crazy adventure. I still can’t believe how much can happen in just one day! I am getting better at the language, getting to know faces and people, and getting settled. I’m looking forward to being able to actually DO things like really talk to people about problems like family planning and diarrhea…I’m also looking forward to seeing my first birth!
Cheers everyone! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!