Thursday, November 19, 2009

Last Week in Ranomafana

Sorry it's been so long since I last updated, I've been so busy saying goodbye to Ranomafana and also I didn't have enough money to go on the internet and buy all the souvenirs I want. But now I'm in the capitol city, Tana, where we have free internet at the Hotel St. Laurent.

Since last time, my friends Hamutahl, Kara, Collette, and I took one last enjoyable hike in the Ranomafana forest. Our friend and guide, Dina, showed us the Belle Vue where we can see the whole park, we saw Red-Bellied Lemurs and the Greater Bamboo Lemur and we had a picnic that consisted of Madagascar Chocolate (very delicious) and Gouty (yummy biscuit cookies) at the 'Wedding' waterfall. It was gorgeous and relaxing, but it was sad knowing that it would be our last time in the forest. We have been very lucky with the weather; it was around 80 degrees for our last week and hardly rained. We all spent most of the week working on or project presentations, but I also went to the library almost everyday to teach and hangout with the kids. It was sad when we had to say goodbye, we went to their school and did one last round of the 'hokey pokey' and 'boom-chicka-boom'.

Saturday was the big day to present what we learned from our independent projects. Everyone got dressed up and lots of people came, like the Mayor of Ranomafana and representatives from Madagascar National Parks. We were all a little nervous, but everyone did a really great job. It turned out very professional. 8 students our of the group were chosen to present again in Tana, which is a great experience.
That night we had a huge good-bye party outside of the research center. It was a beautiful night and there was so much delicous food prepared for us and we danced all night. It was a great way to end the semester. For the rest of the weekend my friends and I enjoyed the beautiful weather by hanging out in town, going to the Masomanga garden to collect bushes of leeches and having a pineapple cake picnic.

Our last day in Ranomafana consisted of packing, sharing pictures with everyone and lounging on the rocks in the river before ValBio. I don't know why i never did this before, but it was one of my most enjoyable days. Hearing the sound of the water fall while laying out in the sun or climbing up rocks was so much fun, especially when you don't have to worry about any type of homework or studying that needs to be done. I'm going to put up a bunch of random pictures that sums up my last week in Ranomafana, I hope you all enjoy!!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Halloween in Madagascar

ValBio has a huge party to raise money for the employees’ association every year. We went to the party this past Saturday and had a blast. We all got dressed up, well, dressier than what we usually wear, and went out to a nice dinner in town. It was fun to get ready and not just wear field clothes. Our group was the first ones at the party and we all started dancing as soon as we got there. The building was an empty warehouse used just for large gatherings like this and they decorated it to look like a rain forest. There were Malagasy flags and palm leaves all along the walls. A DJ blasted Malagasy dance music and even Madagascar’s national anthem. Once everyone outside was admitted in the dance floor was packed with people; it was a crazy and fun and will definitely be one of my most memorable Halloweens.

Before we know it, it’s November! We are all getting excited about going home and have begun to plan our first days and meals in America, but the thought of leaving everyone we’ve met in Ranomafana is also very sad. Since everyone is so friendly here, we have become very close with the employees at ValBio, all the guides and the kitchen staff. All the students are finishing up their research and we’ve been spending our days enjoying the beautiful weather we’ve had this past week.
This week Collette, Hamutahl and I began teaching English classes at the children’s library in town. Any children who would like to can come to the library in the afternoon after school. We have taught vocabulary, past tenses of verbs and had fun learning ‘head, shoulders, knees and toes’ and the ‘hokey pokey’. There are about 8 kids that we teach who are around the age of 12, but after classes we run around with 20 other younger kids. One day we walked though the town to collect plastic litter, wrappers and bottles and the next day we made little toys out of the garbage.

Today we turned ‘duck, duck, goose’ into the opposite game so each kid has to think of new opposites, like sun and moon, tall and short and so on. It is a lot of fun meeting these kids and getting to know them. The only books in English that they have are the storybooks that my mom sent me from her library. The man in charge is so happy that we are able to come and I will definitely be keeping in touch with him when I’m back in America. Another great thing about the library is that my two favorite dogs (which I named Masomanga and Sissy) are always there. These dogs always find us when we are in town and stay with us all day just for the company…so they are in most of my pictures of the town.

Yesterday I visited a beautiful garden that serves as an example garden for the villagers. It was great to hang out there for a few hours and pick the ripe lychee fruit off the trees. Today I am going with Collette to the school where she teaches English for her project. It will be her last day there so we will be giving out school supplies and playing a lot of games with her students. I heard that the Yankees won the World Series, woo hoo!! Congrats Yankees fans! I hope everyone is enjoying November as much as I am!