Wooden Needles

Give me a needle. “I don’t have one.” Ok, then give me a knife. My ten year old host brother eyes me suspiciously. “You really don’t have a needle?” Wait a minute. I go inside the house. I did have one at some point, but it seems to have disappeared under piles of rubble, clothes…

Climbing the Hills of Fianarantsoa, Madagascar’s San Francisco

We roll in late Saturday evening. Looking out the window, I see lights bobbing through dark windows in houses, dancing along the hills. I rub my eyes, still groggy from the ten hour drive from Antananarivo. Am I in San Francisco? In the dark of the night, winding through city hills, I think I could be. Fianarantsoa…

Head, shoulders, knees and TOES!

I love my students. Bright eyed, curious, with smiles that fill up half their faces, my students are the best thing about my life here. They’re constantly asking me questions, wanting to know about America, wanting to know about me and my life and my habits. They ask some really great questions. Which is better,…

On Coexistence and Feeling Pain

A few days ago I woke up to the familiar sound of a dog barking–a low, deep, rapid barking that sounded exactly like my dog Lucky’s bark back home. With my eyes still closed, lying under my mosquito net, I was transported. I heard the sound of my dog’s barks, then felt the soft cotton…

Arabaina! Tratra ny Taona

Happy New Year! We party hard in the Avaratra. New Year’s Day is the biggest day of the year. People started asking me what my New Year’s Day plans were in October. Kind of like when my Aunt Annie asks for Christmas lists before Halloween 🙂 I spent my first New Year’s in Madagascar with…

The World Map Project

The idea is “do something to make the world more beautiful.” My childhood manifesto still beats in my heart. I tend to take myself way too seriously, but sometimes life really is this incredible. We painted a world map on the outside wall of the 6eme classroom. It’s the wall that is most visible from…

Porch Stories

The days are getting longer, and hotter, here in the Avaratra. By 7 am, I am already sweating if I’m out in the sun. Fortunately, there is a brilliant, man-made structure that combats heat, invites company, and calms my soul: the porch. I am blessed with a cement floor that extends about three feet past…

Breathe In

Originally posted on recklesslyfreckling:
This story is written for the prompt ‘regional success story’, sent out by Peace Corps Madagascar. — If you were to line up the Peace Corps volunteers of the north, what would you see? The obvious at first: some tall, some short. Mexican American, Indian American, Dutch American, freckled. Cheesy smiles,…