The ramblings of a Peace Corps trainee in Madagascar....

Thursday, February 10, 2011

I’m open to blogging….but still frown upon tweeting.

So…as most of you now know I am shipping out to the lovely island of Madagascar as a Peace Corps trainee at the end of the month.  I will be considered a 'trainee' for the first 2ish months, and upon demonstration of language/technical competency and commitment will be sworn in as an official Peace Corps Volunteer in early May.   If all goes well, I will be in Madagascar for 27 months! What most of you may not realize is how long it has taken for me to actually get here, and what you may have to look forward to if you decide to apply to the PC yourself.  Let me fill you in on the last 1.5 years of my life via this timeline….

Timeline:  Application>Nomination>Invitation....
Oct. 2009:  Filled out ridiculously long Peace Corps application (think grad school application x 2, or job application x 5)
Nov. 2009:  Met with my PC recruiter at Dreamer’s coffee shop in downtown Reno (sadly, no longer there, but at least the Starbucks went out of business as well) for a 2 hour interview.
Dec. 2009:  Nominated for an agroforestry position in Africa
Jan-April 2010:  Filled out legal paperwork, got fingerprinted, completed dental and medical screening (with some procrastination mixed in).  Mailed all paperwork in….and waited….and waited.
June 2010:  Oh, crap.  Apparently I took the wrong Hepatitis test…I needed the surface antigen test!  Who knew?  Apparently not my nurse practitioner.  So…upon getting this call in the middle of Glacier National Park, I make my way to the urban center of Kalispell, MT to find a clinic.
July-Sept 2010:  Hello?  Was that the right Hep test?
Sept. 2010:  After a fantastic backpacking trip in Zion, I make my way back to a signal and find a message from my placement officer.  She asks me a few questions, and informs me my invitation is in the mail.  A week later I receive an invitation to serve in Guinea, West Africa!! F-yeah!  Wait a second….where is that?
Oct. 2010:  Move back in with my parents in CT to spend time with the family before leaving.
Nov. 2010:  My original departure date of 12/2/10 is postponed until 1/12/11 due to political instability in the country following Guinea's first democratic presidential elections.
Dec. 2010:  Training group for Guinea CANCELLED.  Hmmm….A few days later my placement officer gives me the choice of going to Morocco or Madagascar as a Peace Corps environment trainee….and I chose Madagascar! It was a tough call….I decided I liked giant hissing cockroaches more than camels. (..and I guess the lemurs are pretty cute..) 

  These last few months have given me just enough time to get a job (at a climbing gym, which has been awesome), make some good friends in the area, spend some time with old friends, and experience the craziest winter on record in New England.  I will miss all of you very much, and I promise to bring a hissing cockroach back for each and every one of you.  Enough about me….Let me tell you a little about MADAGASCAR!  Not just a cartoon, but potentially the only piece of land predicted to survive the apocalyptic events of 2012 (or so I’ve heard).  

Things Wikipedia (among other credible sources) has taught me about Madagascar....

-It is the 4th largest island in the world, and is often referred to as the "8th continent"
-It is roughly twice the size of Arizona, or 227, 800 sq. miles
-Malagasy is the official language ( with 19 or so dialects, one of which I will have to learn), and French is spoken in the larger cities.
-Madagascar is roughly 200 miles from continental Africa, and is bordered by the Mozambique Channel to the west, and the Indian Ocean to the east.
-Due to it's 170 million year period of isolation, 90% of the flora and fauna are endemic to the island, and have evolved specifically to survive within Madagascar's unique ecosystems.  The island is one of the most biologically diverse areas in the world, and is showcase to the wonders of evolution.  

 Here are some links that go more in depth about the wildlife, history, culture, and travel opportunities...

Some interesting photo spreads...

Before I conclude my very first blog post, I would like to reiterate the fact that if you are indeed interested, I would be more than willing to bring you back your very own, cuddly, hissing cockroach.  Here is a helpful guide in caring for your pet H.C....

....and here is an interesting article by Fox News about the joy of sending and receiving H.C.s as Valentine's gifts.  Apparently, "Nothing says forever like a cockroach".


  1. wow that's quite a process! Sounds like the actual process of applying for the PC trains you to be in the PC. (patience) the government is so wise. It's funny how life works out sometimes...madagascar is such an upgrade. (no offence Guineans)

    Maybe it's a wise idea to bring some twinkies to madagascar... something to eat while you watch cockroack races during the apocalypse...

    Looking forword to going on this wild ride...from the least wild place in the world... in my snuggie.

    Can't wait for the next post! and remember...
    "My life is half over and I don't even know if I'm black with white stripes or white with black stripes!"