There’s so much to write about living in Madagascar, but how?! Without being here to experience what I describe, language just doesn’t do any of it full justice!
A recent visitor to SALT from France said, “Wow! I had heard that Madagascar was lush and rich with flora- but I had no idea that it would be SO green everywhere!”
Right now we are coming out of the rainy season and rice has been ripening everywhere for the last month or so. The countryside is green everywhere. Every free space of ground is bursting with rice, tomatoes, squash, corn, peppers, carrots, yam-like tubers, sweet potatoes, potatoes, cauliflower, onions, and more! Then the fruit that is now in season is guava, apples, pears, tamarinds, oranges, mandarins (I was surprised to find these!), an artichoke looking fruit with white flesh and big black seeds, and more!
The market has all kinds of fresh foods (grown free from pesticides!) to attract any local buyer. Local though I might be, as a rare foreigner in the market, often vendors still ask me to pay an elevated price- until I speak with them in Malagasy and bargain for a lower rate; after seven months of shopping in the same market, many are still surprised to see me bargaining for the “real” price of my weekly fruits and vegetables. Still others know me and we have a friendly exchange each week- joking about cooking and what’s in my basket already, or commenting on the weather and activities from the last week. In Fianarantsoa the market days are Tuesday and Friday. While you can buy most things any day of the week; on market day the market swells to host so many vendors and buyers that everyone is swimming through people to purchase food, animals, material, clothing, and every kind of household product or tool. The market is all about the sustenance of life for all who live here.
As central as the market might seem sometimes, there are many other aspects to life: weekly worship and daily devotion; preparing food and enjoying meals together; exercising at 4:30am to avoid smokey traffic; living in a community where I am often surprised and yet living in such a way so as to be respectful when differences are shocking; talking about everything from engagement traditions to soteriology (beliefs about salvation) with students, lecturers, and friends; sitting with friends who have lost a two month old child; hearing sermons about grace, love, and duty; being present during monthly exorcisms at church (a healing ministry of the Malagasy Lutheran Church)…
Describing daily life in all its richness is greatly limited by language and I appreciate your patience with me as I attempt to share aspects of this year with you in clips limited by time, internet, and electrical outages.