The last few weeks have been busy, and really fun. The Ifaty women’s organization had its first exposition for the staff and guests of Reef Doctor. Everyone loved all the beautiful napkins, tablecloths, and pillow cases they had made. The women were really proud, and so happy that the vazaha were into stuff they had made.
There is definitely some sort of ridiculous idea that vazaha are somehow better than Gasy people. I consciously try to break this down. You wouldn’t think that just hanging out with people and getting to know them would have a huge impact, but it does. They love it, and so do I! Ok, I admit it was scary at first, and sometimes it still is. Some people laugh hysterically anytime you speak (not a problem when I’m trying to get a laugh, but otherwise, it makes me want to crawl into a shell), while other people give you death looks. But everybody, and I mean everybody, stares at you at as close proximity as possible (occasionally chomping away on sugar cane right next to my face).
I finally visited Ranomafana national park with my friends Brittany and Dan. I love the rainforest. We had some great hikes, and got up close with lemurs. It’s official, the mouse lemur is the cutest animal ever. Even the fossa we saw was adorable (although, the larger species is supposedly scarier).
We spoke with some of the people doing research in the park. Unfortunately, despite the work to conserve the animals that live in the park, many are still likely to go extinct. For example, the greater bamboo lemur is in danger because the forest bordering the park is being destroyed. The greater bamboo lemur doesn’t live in those areas, but the large fossa that do live there are being forced into Ranomafana, where they hunt the greater bamboo lemur. Why are the rainforests being destroyed? So that a few minerals can be dug up out of the ground. Dumb.
Anyhoo, I spent the past week in Tamatave for the yearly bike race/AIDS awareness event. We worked with Gasy NGOs giving workshops all over the city. It was a really great event, and I got to give a condom demonstration to a group of 10-year-old boys, woohoo. But seriously, it was awesome to see people speaking openly about a subject that some people refuse to acknowledge. Plus I got to see a lot of my friends, which is always sweet.