Thursday, August 4, 2011

Adventures in Madagascar: Home Again

Well, I'm back home. After a total of 30 hours of traveling (flight time and layover time), I finally made it back to Chicago. The first things I did were check email, open all my snail mail, and do the dishes. Then I took what was supposed to be an hour and a half "nap", and I ended up sleeping for 6 hours! I guess not sleeping on the airplane can do that to you. :) I had cereal for my first meal back in the states, and Giordano's pizza for the second! (I'd been looking forward to that pizza for weeks!)

So, how am I doing adjusting back to America? Here's some things I miss about Madagascar, and what I love about being back home.

What I miss about Madagascar:
1. My team. It's hard to believe that after five weeks, we were separated so quickly in the D.C. airport, without really getting the chance to say goodbye.
2. The missionaries and friends that we met while in Madagascar. Many thanks to the Zagamis and the Schafflers for all their help. Thanks to Betty for her amazing hospitality. Thanks to Mr. Rado and Mr. Samson for helping and befriending us. Thanks to Michelle and Hany for their friendship.
3. The slower pace of life. Even though we had schedules, it definitely felt more relaxed and less stressed than here in America.
4. Less options. Honestly, the only reason I had cereal for lunch when I first got home was because I was overwhelmed by all the options in my fridge! Sometimes having less options can be really helpful when you aren't in a decision-making mode.
5. Walking everywhere. Never thought I'd say this, but I really miss our long walks to get somewhere. Especially since there was so much beautiful nature to see while you were walking.
6. Rice and fish. Had it often. Miss it.

What I love about being home:
1. Family! I missed them so much, and it's been a blessing to see my Dad and Brother again. I'm still waiting to see Mom and sisters, since they are all away at camp.
2. Personal space on public transportation. Unlike the buses in Madagascar, there was plenty of room on the CTA coming home from the airport yesterday.
3. Wonderful showers! While we did have hot water in most cases in Madagascar, having a good showerhead with adequate pressure is a luxury we had to forego.
4. The food! It's no longer a Malagasy version of American food, but real American food! Yum!
5. Having a washer AND dryer. Clothes take less time when you are able to dry them in a machine.
6. Fast internet connection. I know it sounds lame, but it's so much easier to update this blog here.

Thank for all your prayers everyone! This trip was amazing. I'm still processing everything that happened. There are so many more stories to tell, pictures to show, and thoughts to process. As I now try to reflect on this trip, adjust back to America, and prepare for this upcoming school year, I'm in awe of God's faithfulness this summer and always. May you also recognize His faithfulness.

In Christ,

Monday, August 1, 2011

Adventures in Madagascar: Culture Notes, New Experiences, and Some Myths About Roosters

Tomorrow afternoon my team leaves Madagascar. It's so weird to think that this trip has come to an end. I thought I would share some more about our trip by presenting you with three different lists: culture notes, some new experiences of mine, and some myths about roosters.

Culture notes:
1. There's no such thing as personal space. It's not uncommon to fit five people on a seat meant for three on a public bus.
2. Cutting in front of people is not considered rude, nor is staring at people.
3. Women breast-feed in public. It's considered perfectly normal.
4. A matching athletic suit is considered "dressy" because it matches.
5. It's normal to see zebu in the middle of cities, even the capital of Tana. Also, chickens roam every single street.
6. There are no traffic signals or signs, so you basically cross the street whenever you can and hope that cars will stop.
7. Even if you order off of a menu, you never know what you're going to get.
8. Most people walk everywhere, although you don't normally see people jogging for fun/training.
9. Picnicking is very popular here; especially for dates.
10. Whistles, catcalls, and cries of "Bonjour Madame" are normal here.

My New Experiences:
1. Bargaining in another language
2. Malagasy facial mask
3. Swimming in the Indian Ocean
4. Sleeping with a mosquito net
5. Riding a pousse-pousse (a rickshaw)
6. Boarding an airplane from the outside, rather than from an inside terminal.
7. Tasting zebu meat, rabbit meat, octopus, crab, cabbage, jackfruit, and Madagascar sweet potato.

And finally, some myths about roosters.
1. They don't say "cock-a-doodle-doo." It's more like "cock-a-choke-choke."
2. They don't crow only at sunrise. They also crow at 2am, 5am, and all day long.
3. They are not plump, regal looking creatures. They're rather scrawny and ugly. If I were a hen, I wouldn't find them at all attractive. :)

I hope you've enjoyed following along with my adventure in Madagascar. I'll be writing an update from home in a couple of days to let you know how I'm adjusting back to the states. Thanks for all your prayers. I ask for continued prayer for our trip back to the states and for adjusting back to American culture.

In Christ,