As the temperature drops, the farmers finish up the rice harvest, and start preparing to sell a large bulk of their rice. The harvest is a celebration in itself. Rice is life here in Madland, and after working hard to prepare, transplant, and weed the fields, the culmination of the harvest is now behind us. I am proud to say that my SRI fields did very well, and I have been approached by many farmers interested in forming a fikambanana (community group) dedicated to using the technique next season. The days have gotten shorter, the rain has stopped, and the celebrations begin.
June 13-16th we celebrated Environment Day by hosting a 3 day fety (party) in Morarano focused on raising awareness and appreciation for the natural environment here in Madagascar. Guests from Namoly valley, where the east entrance of Andringitra park lies, hiked over to celebrate the event, as well as park affiliates from a neighboring city. Morarano is a very small village, and this event was a source of pride in the community. In preparation of the event the community members and myself spruced up the village, picked up trash, and prepared skits/songs/activities all in celebration of the environment. Musical acts from the area performed, and a race was held, which I participated in, and was easily defeated by a number of 15yr old Malagasy girls. Naturally, a cow was slaughtered for the community to share, and everyone donated their share of rice. I am also proud to say that the soccer team here in Morarano defeated that of the team from Namoly; and in a shootout nonetheless.
|Morarano is in green!|
|Not a bad spot for a soccer game...|
|Nothing like slaughtering a cow in the dark...|
|A local musical act performing some popular Betsileo tunes|
|Some important people doing what the Malagasy do best....give very long speeches.|
Aside from the celebrations; it is also the arrival of the valala!! Valala=large crickets/locusts. A few weeks ago I was riding my bike home from teaching the guides at a nearby campground when I found myself caught in a storm of valala. Locust storms are embraced by the Malagasy, as they are a preferred side dish this time of year. I tried them a few times last year, the last time leading to a little marary kibo (upset stomach), so I’ve stayed away from them ever since. When it starts raining valala, the Malagasy break out their fishing nets and catch large quantities, which they later lay out on a mat to dry out, and then eat or sell.
|Those black spots are indeed the Valala Mena (red locusts)|
|The ladies catching the valala.|
|Up close and personal.|
|My little friend proudly showing me her collection of valala maitso, a different species of valala. She is saving them on a stick as a snack for later.|
After living in Morarano for 13months, I have developed some close friendships, and the thought of leaving these people is already causing me to feel a little choked up. I would like to spend a minute telling you about my best friend in my village, Mino (literally ‘to believe’).
|Mino braiding the hair of her oldest daughter, Olivia|
|The little cutie, Leony.|
|Three of Mino's sons checking my feet for parasy (the little bugs that like to burrow into the flesh of unsuspecting humans..).|
|Yeah, she's pretty gangsta.|
|Rolan, Mino's husband, in the hat.|
As some of you may know, I am working on a project to build a bridge in my community. There is a large river which runs through the Sahanambo Valley, and separates many villages from schools, ricefields, the local health clinic, the market, the one dirt road that connects my valley to the outside world, etc. During the rainy season the river rises significantly, and is often impassable for anyone trying to reach the other side of the valley. I have already set up another blog dedicated specifically to raising funds for this project, so please check it out at www.buildingbridgesinmadagascar.blogspot.com. The project is going to cost around $8,000, no small chunk of change (around 16 million Ariary!) Spread the word!!