Saturday, March 26, 2011
As we head to South Africa for a cluster meeting and community development/disaster relief training, I have been reflecting on some of the skills Madagascar has been teaching me over the last year and a half. Due to my time here on the island, I can now:
1. Divide by 2000 very, very quickly. The exchange rate between Malagasy ariary and US dollar fluctuates, but is always in the general vicinity of 2000ar/dollar.
2. Drive stick shift on sketchy (curve, pothole, animal, and people-filled) roads. And how try to “counter-attack” start the car while someone (Heather - ha ha!) pushes the car…in the rain…great friend. :-)
3. Kill roaches (and other such various and sundry disgusting creatures) without yelling, “Daaadddddyyy!” Although I expect to revert RIGHT back to my old ways whenever he or my little brother are around. *grin*
4. Speak Malagasy. Yeah, that’s a pretty big one. I am not “fluent” by any means, but it still thrills my heart to see the surprise and joy that comes across the peoples’ faces here when they realize I am speaking their heart language.
5. Dig out sand fleas from peoples’ feet (my own included – and that, my friends, takes talent. ;), give IV meds by candlelight, create and teach medical lessons, and other such odd medical talents. :P
6. Not stop at police checkpoints. Legally! It’s a fine art and I’m not quite 100% yet, but if you don’t make eye contact till the right time and then smile and wave while not slowing down, 9 times out of 10 the police will wave you on through. When my parents and little brother come next month, I’m going to try for a 100%. Not because I am scared of the police, but because I am scared my little brother will try to buy their AK47s off them...and succeed. ;)
7. Minimalize. When you carry out everything you need to the village, you learn how to need very little. However, our car does get quite full, still, when we do our re-stocking trips for 2-3 months at a time!
8. Be an e-pen-pal. I LOVE IT! Very few things brighten my day like getting a personal email from a friend! I love getting updates on life in America and all over the world. :0)
9. Never think normally again. Seriously, yesterday I asked Heather a question mentioning the border crossing from Kansas to Missouri. It’s up in the air whether abnormal thinking is a good or bad thing, so, being the optimist that I am, it goes here on the talent list. :D
10. Siphon gas. Again, legally. :P The closest gas station is over an hour away, so we keep some on hand in case we ever get too low to make it there! Along with the gas theme, is cooking with a gas stove/oven and learning how to change out propane tanks without blowing myself up. ;)
P.S. While holding a chameleon is something I have done first here in Madagascar, I don't exactly consider it a talent. This pic just made it up on here because I don't have one of me siphoning gas or killing bugs. :P