It's Thursday morning, and I am alone in the Tana Meva. Well, not actually alone. One other girl from my group is here and two girls from other stages are in town on business, but I have no idea where they all are and it's super quiet right now. It's a stark contrast to the madness that the Meva usually is, with everyone trying to take care of a million things in a short amount of time. Very nice and relaxing though. The reason I'm still here while everyone is off installing is that my site is so close to Tana that the language teacher helping me and the 2 girls with sites near mine is able to take us individually to help us get moved in. So, he's getting one (Nicole) moved in this morning, and then will be back later this afternoon to take me and Julie up to Ankazobe. Once there, I'll move all my stuff in and we'll spend the night there, and then tomorrow we'll head to Maevatanana to move Julie in. I'm going as well because I still need to set up my bank account there. By the way, Maevatanana is the hottest place in Madagascar, so this should be an interesting trip! It's weird that only 5 hours away from my relatively cool (temperature-wise) site is the hottest place in the country. I may or may not keep it as my banking town depending on how well I can tolerate the heat.
Speaking of the heat, it is definitely getting warmer here. Winter is on the way out and summer's coming in. In Tana it's been in the low 80's with sunny skies for the last month or so. It's like we hit September and the rain just vanished. Supposedly the weather will be really nice in October and November, but come December the rainy season starts and we're in for weeks and weeks of pretty heavy rain. At least I'm in the plateau region and the rain will eventually stop; I've heard that in the east the rainy season lasts much longer. It's strange to be somewhere where the seasons progress in what (to me) seems the opposite direction. I feel like I'm subconsciously expecting the leaves to start turning orange and cooler fall temperatures to arrive, but such won't be the case. It's definitely something that makes me feel farther from home, and I really miss being in Knoxville for the fall. Walking around World's Fair Park at dusk on a fall night is something I'd trade all of my rice for.
So, I've got just a few hours till I head to Ankazobe now, and I've got sort of mixed emotions. I mean, I've got to start actually being a volunteer sooner or later, but leaving the safety net of training is kind of scary. I feel pretty prepared for the isolation though, and I am well armed with many movies, TV shows, music, and books to help keep me occupied when I'm by myself. One of the days we spent at the training center in Mantasoa was dedicated to a giant media swap where flashdrives and external hard-drives were passed around for people to download any entertainment they might want onto their computers. I've got about 50 movies on my computer now, and not quite 3 GB of available memory left! It's an interesting mix of stupid comedies (Pineapple Express, Role Models, Superbad), Disney (Enchanted, Jungle Book, Alice in Wonderland), re-watchable guilty pleasures (Devil Wears Prada, 10 Things I Hate About You, Love Actually), standard favorites (all Wes Anderson movies, some Audrey Hepburn, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind), and lots in between. I feel like movies I wouldn't even consider watching in the States are now totally fair game, because hey, it's the jungle and any media is golden. So yes, I may have even gotten Twilight. Quit judging me!!
Other than embarrassing media entertainment, I do actually have quite a long list of things I'd like to accomplish while I'm here. This isn't necessarily my professional goal list, just a list of things that will keep me occupied and (hopefully) relatively sane. Here's a brief sampling of it:
1)Run the Tana marathon
2)Read Einstein's Theory of Relativity (Yes, I brought this with me. Yes, I am a weirdo.)
3)Start a garden
4)Learn to identify constellations in the Southern hemisphere
5)Get better at ukulele and write songs
7)Learn to make crazy friendship bracelets (I know this is kind of weird, but a bunch of us girls were talking about it and will probably make them for Christmas. Any instructions or thread would be much appreciated!!)
9)Cook my way through the (good) recipes in Mampalicious (the Peace Corps Madagascar cookbook all trainees are given)
10)Learn French (after I've mastered Malagasy, of course)
So, those are just some of the things on my list, but I think they'll be enough to keep me occupied for two years. I'm pretty excited about actually having enough time on my hands to do some of these that I've wanted to do for a while. I know I'll probably be kind of swamped the first few weeks because everyone will want to meet me and find out what I'm doing here, but hopefully that will all die down quickly.
Well, the time for me to leave is rapidly approaching, and I still need to consolidate all of my stuff at the Meva. I better get going, but I'll be thinking of you all over the next few months! I'm guessing I'll have a lot of time to think, so if you're tired, it's because you've been running through my head (HAHA JOKES). Miss you all, don't forget that I have a new address for all of the letters to go to that I know you're going to send! Till next time (and I don't know when I'll have access to the internet again, so this is very vague), take care, and I'll try my best to do the same.