Well, it's been a while.
The last time I wrote was before we left for our week-long village stay. And since then, there has been a political coup of sorts and my stay in Madagascar has reached a turning point.
For one thing, I'm in Tulear now. We've finished our home stays in Ft. Dauphin and moved to Tulear for a little while, which is a much bigger city in the southwest coast of the Mozambique Channel. The days in which we making the transition from Ft. Dauphin to Tulear were pretty rough because it was very likely we were going to be evacuated from the country to be either sent home or absorbed into another SIT study abroad program. So clearly those times I said I was sure all the political drama in the capital (Tana) would go away prove how little I know. Because they definitely did not go away. If you want to know more i suggest you look around the internet for info. The news we get is almost always secondary and contradictory. HOWEVER, I now have first hand experience with how the media can be unreliable. The BBC completely sensationalised the situation calling Madagascar "on the verge of civil war." Not true. Not true at all. So don't believe that. I have never been in any kind of danger or felt unsafe at all. The reason we would have to be evacuated would be because the US government cannot legally recognize a government that is not elected, or 'illegitimate.' The military has taken over, but in a completely peaceful way and because they thought that was the way to keep the peace. That's what the program people have to say. And I trust their insight and experience with Malagasy politics. The Peace Corps was pulled out last Wednesday and the Embassy has called for evacuation of governmental employees. Luckily for me, SIT decided to trust our program directors that we are going to avoid all potentially dangerous situations.
Unfortunately, the same day that we learned we were staying (for now), we also learned that two students in our group who go to big public universities (CU Boulder and UNC Chapel Hill) had to be evacuated because their institutions follow the government's lead by policy. I love both of them and they left today. It was really pretty devastating. Those two students are going to join the SIT program in Botswana, which will be an adventure. Another of my best friends decided to go home as well. She's been having a rough semester and this was kind of her chance to opt out. I'll miss her too. So we're down to 13 students. It's a bit quieter, but there's more room on the bus.
Meanwhile, my last week has been defined by an awesomely painful ear infection. I've now been to the doctor twice to get stuff sucked out of my ear with a contraption that looks like it was made in the 1940s and must be operated with a large generator. As a result, i couldn't go snorkeling today with everyone on the coral reef which was a HUGE bummer. I'm on antibiotics and going back for a check up in a few days.
So the first few days here we spent camping by the mangroves, which are really cool. It is ABSURDLY hot in this city. We had American style pizza and ice cream in the city and we also had a mouton (or sheep) roast to celebrate the full moon on Saturday and yesterday we went to the reef. We're going to spend a few days in the city now, arranging our Independent Study Projects and doing laundry and then we're going on a road trip. We'll be seeing a bunch of rain forest as we drive across the middle of the island towards (but not to) the capital. I'm told I will actually be cold at times. Hard for me to imagine at this point. We will not be going to Tana like we normally would be and we're going to drive south along the coast to Ft. Dauphin to start our ISPs. That's the plan. But recently, everything has been up in the air. Nous verrons.
I'll write about my village stay soon. It was awesome. I did a lot of dancing and singing. And lots of people stared at me.
Happy March mes amis.