My guilty pleasure of ‘gramming’ combined with my efforts to accomplish Peace Corps’ third goal and of course, my natural inclination toward competition led me to participate in Blogging Abroad’s first Instagram photo challenge. Its theme was “Out and About.” Created by two former Peace Corps Volunteers, Blogging Abroad is a site designed to promote cross-cultural exchange for those living abroad. A year ago, I had a hard time imagining what my life on this island would look like. Now nine months into my service, I’m hoping my pictures helps aid others’ imaginations and share a piece of the world its culture that not everyone gets to explore.
#adventure: The second you jump in the back of a ‘sarety’ or wooden ox cart, you know you’re in for an adventure. Never underestimate the stamina of an ‘añombe’ or cow – they will pull you deep into the heart of the countryside.
#weather: You could hear the whistling and cheering across town, harmonious with the sound of the heavy rain drops hitting the roof. Kids ran home to grab buckets, pots and teapots to collect the water. Here they are huddled under the broken gutter, dancing and laughing in the long overdue rain. The Androy region of Madagascar suffered from a severe drought during the beginning of this year. This was the first rain the area saw in months.
#spirit: Each day living here, I learn more about the rich culture of the Antandroy. Here, high school students perform ‘tsinjake,’ the traditional Antandroy dance, at a recent ceremony. It involves lifting your knees high into the air while waving your hands in different positions.
#unexpected: Received an unexpected gift. Playing with ‘valala’ or grasshoppers is common among Malagasy kids. They like to pull their legs off before they fry them with some oil and salt and eat them as a snack!
#road: From the Garden State Parkway to this. These are my roads now.
#elegance: Think about the last time you heard the word ‘elegant.’ It can be used in the contexts of science, in mathematics and in chemistry, but that’s most likely not where you’ve heard it. It was probably in regard to the appearance of a Hollywood actress or maybe to describe a dress seen on the red carpet. But elegance isn’t just appearance. It’s the refinement, grace and beauty of manners and of people. It’s the bond between these three classmates. I watched them walk home from school, one holding another’s hand and another with his arm around his friend’s neck. This isn’t an uncommon display of friendship between boys (and men) here in Madagascar. It is a very refreshing and heartwarming part of Malagasy culture that I wish wouldspread to other parts of the world.
#peace: “GOOALLLL” Fans rushed the sandy field under the dark gloomy sky contrasted with a bright rainbow. The middle school girls' soccer team just beat the high school girls but they came together to celebrate.
#somethingILove: A Malagasy woman selling bananas at the market holds “Flat Sammy,” a project to help a special needs student from North Carolina learn more about the island he dreams of visiting.
#light: Working with the youth in my village has been the light through my service thus far. I admire their enthusiasm to learn, their energy to help and their creativity to change. They make this “job” worth it. (… and three cheers for bananagrams!)
#movement: Like clockwork, my students make their way to the dried up water pits after class to practice doing flips. Here is one of my 6eme students, Lambo, (which means pig in English), effortlessly doing a back flip. Pigs really do fly!
Follow my adventures on Instagram: @olivepretzel