Madagascar. Here we are. I’ve been here for right around 2 months. When I type that it’s hard to believe. It feels like its been a year. 60 Days of foreignness and rice overload. I could have won survivor by now. Actually, I could have won survivor 2 times over. That means I could have won 2 million dollars. Nope, instead I’m banking 4 dollars a day. God. All of these blogs sound really bitter. I’m happier than I let on. I think so at least. I’m really curious as to what my real emotions and thoughts about all of this are opposed to thinking what I should be thinking. You keep telling yourself that “its worth it”, and “this is a great opportunity to grow” and “be selfless for 2 years”. You tell yourself for all of the days you are harsh or cynical on these people and culture and you just want to shrivel up in your limited American bubble that you have days where I am taken back in its beauty and uniqueness. But not today. Just lots of frustration. Frustration at my language skills, frustration at Malagasy and their innerving culture. These 2 years I’m embarking on are the longest time I have been removed from the States by a long-shot. I’m far from a world traveler, but prior to this I spent 5 months in Europe away from the greatness that is America, and being away from home changes you. Before studying in Europe I had never considered myself particularly American. But then you leave and realize the extensive amount of freedoms and abilities you have Stateside and you become patriotic. Yes there are more than ample problems with the States like American Idol, an unhealthy fixation towards Hollywood, rednecks, Wal-Mart, overconsumption with….well….. everything, and still present gender/race inequality, but wow I love America. Wow I miss America. I don’t say it simply because of the conveniences stateside of public bathrooms, free refills and chipotle, all of which are great things. I say it because in America there’s education for everyone, Water Treatment facilities, trash disposal, roads that allow you to be anywhere you want in an instant, and oh yea… food. None of those seemingly simple things are guaranteed in Madagascar. An advanced septic system here is a hole dug in the ground that will act as your toilet for three years opposed to two. Trash disposal? Hahaha, oh you naïve American. Either throw your trash to the side of the dirt road or burn it. Lastly, food. Yea, don’t envision some tropical island oasis westernized with PF Chang’s and Cheesecake factory. Madagascar does have some incredible food resources. However, they don’t have packaging or refrigeration outside of big cities. That means in December (summer here) you can pick off the trees as many mangoes as you would like, but there are several other months that are part of the Hunger season. I really question how much of what I say in this blog can be understood or grasped when read from a computer screen in the states. But really, think about that when you go to the grocery store. There may be months at a time where the only thing to be found at the market is rice. The hunger season in the states for me had always been the two days before grocery day when I had polished off the Oreo’s. America, we’ve got it pretty cush.
I was talking to another PCT about this and about how great America is, and they we’re less positive about America than I was, and I was trying to understand why they don’t share the same pride. What we essentially came up with is that our Americas are very different. Lets face it, I’ve had it REAL easy. I’m from a decently well off white family in Apple Pie Ohio. What could I potentially complain about? Not too much. Eating all of those Oreos before grocery day was probably one of my 5 biggest issues in the States, behind: 1) cruise control not working in my car, resulting in me having to have my foot on the gas pedal at ALL times on the highway, 2) Ironing button-down shirts, 3) Missing the 30 Rock season premiere, and 4) mistakenly buying orange juice WITH pulp. I know not all lives in the States are hunky dory, and I’m slightly over the top in my description of my life in the States, but I still have a difficult time being optimistic about the state of Madagascar in comparison to America. But that American affinity is coming from a white male perspective. If you haven’t figured it out yet, that’s not the most common/and or most liked demographic in Madagascar. Why? Because when I am seen, Malagasy instantly assume I’m one of the countless Frenchies who abuse Madagascar and the Malagasy people as an entertainment park post-colonization. Time for me to attempt to break that assumption. I’ve left a country where I’m the privileged majority, and I’m now in a land where I am negatively perceived at first glance. Yea, it makes pretty good sense that I would miss America now and be bitter about Madagascar. Oh Yea, now it’s clear why I am frusterated. Well, I didn’t expect it to be easy. Lets do this Madagascar, we’ve got 2 years together.
P.S. Kudos to you if you were able to read and understand this blog in any form of cohesiveness. I don’t know if it’s a talent or a flaw that this reads as if it were written in stream of consciousness form, but let me give my most sincere apologies.