Monday, November 1, 2010

So long, Tana

Well, I'm getting ready to leave Tana in a couple hours so I figured I'd post something quick since it'll be a while before I'm back here. I can't exactly say I'm looking forward to going back to my site. There's just something so...comfortable about Tana. Sure, it's hot, crowded, and so polluted that each breath is probably the equivalent of smoking a pack of cigarettes, but being able to take a shower, sleep in a clean bed, and bask in absolute quiet are three simple pleasures that make life exponentially better. Plus, there's Internet. Lovely, glorious Internet. I really took advantage of that fact and downloaded two new This American Life podcasts, three episodes of Glee, a few books from Barnes & Noble, and a lecture series about zombies. I'm well stocked for the seemingly infinite downtime back at site!

These creature-comforts are great, but I think what I like most about Tana is that it's a huge city and quite ethnically diverse, so I'm therefore afforded a large amount of anonymity. I'm not the vazaha, I'm one of thousands and no one cares. This must seem like a strange sentiment, but being ignored is a terrific feeling. In Tana, there are Malagasy (of course), Indians, Chinese, French, and a whole mess of other ethnicities mixed in, and people are used to foreigners being here. It's hard to go from feeling relatively normal here back to my site, where I'm gawked at, yelled at, and spit on. I guess that's the life here though and I have to take the road less traveled back to Ankazobe.

As much as I like Tana though, it's not that different from any other big city in the world, and I joined Peace Corps to experience something completely different. I know that I need to work harder on integrating into my community at site and develop a thicker skin against the harassment. All of this takes time though, and I'm just so impatient! I want to be working and doing projects, but I still haven't figured out what the problems of my community are. The CSB is well run, there are health posters everywhere, people come to the clinic when they're sick or to get their children vaccinated...why am I here again? I feel like my site is pretty free of any glaring problems, so it's going to take a lot of work to figure out how I can actually be of service. I have to keep reminding myself that I have two years (scratch that, 23 months) to get stuff done, and that right now I'm just supposed to be focusing on learning the language and getting settled in to my community. Baby steps...

So, though it's been a fabulous weekend away, the time has come to return to my little home in the highlands. Tomorrow is a new day, and I'm going to really try to completely throw myself into this experience. Haters gonna hate no matter where you are in the world, but I can try my damnedest to not let them ruin my day. Here's to trying anyway!

Till next time, take care.

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