Monday, January 02, 2012

2 January 2012

Back in Tana December 31, 2011

We just finished eating dinner: chicken brochettes with legumes, bread and ketchup for TaSin. It is just 9:53 p.m. I think I’ll go to bed. Nothing is happening up here and I went to bed late yesterday.

January 1, 2012

We don't get out early. TaSin has to undo something she did on her computer. She probably deleted something accidentally and has to restore it through the temporary files in Task Manager, so I guess I will do my grades.

We saw the fire eating man again; this time we saw him eat fire and extinguish the flame in his pants. We had fun wandering taking photos of fathers out with their families on a warm, dry Sunday afternoon. The afternoon typically means rain—the sky gets dark, the wind starts blowing and then comes the diagonal rain drops—rain storm. Across from the hotel is a pomegranate tree.

There was no water until the afternoon today; the electricity flickered as well, however the big problem is the water. When it came on, we did laundry. It is our last opportunity before South Africa.

January 2, 2012

Today we got out early, 8 a.m. Jany met us and we started our day before the sun got hot. We missed lunch but got a lot accomplished, even visited an area of Tana we hadn't seen before.

There were two boys singing blessings to the New Year by Ortana, which was closed. They were on the stairs we frequent when traversing the area between downtown and uptown. I started to take a photo and then stopped. I am going to stop second guessing myself. It is kind of intimidating hanging with a professional photographer with a camera that lets you capture what you see the way you see it. TaSin says it's the artist not the equipment. However, I am the one watching pictures vanish simply because what I see is too far away, the sun is making it impossible to see it clearly or the camera setting makes the image blurry. Maybe they will be there in the morning (smile).

I thought about Harry Belafonte and how proud he would be of the boys, who had strong harmonies. It was about lunchtime then and folks were either eating or napping, what happens when it is hottest. Our radius is predictable, we have traversed the same territory enough now to recognize photos we've shot or people we've seen, like the pineapple lady I saw yesterday. I hope she had a fresh supply. I also know some of the regular beggars, like a sweet little girl in a wheelchair. She has a lovely smile and sits with a can propped in her lap. She is in a wheelchair.

The boulevard where we people watch wasn't as busy as yesterday, but it was still busy. The mayor's office is down here and today a soldier played a song on his bugle. Yesterday or the day before they were drilling. I couldn't stop to watch because TaSin was leaving me.

Have I told you yet about crossing the street Madagasy style. Certainly this is tongue in cheek. The drivers speed up when they see people in the center of the street. We almost met a few angels many times over the past few weeks. We generally walk with the Madagasy people and cross with someone who is familiar with the rhythm of the traffic. Police direct traffic for a reason--safety (smile).

People do not have the right away. One time, there was motorbike on the sidewalk with us and its driver still had no consideration for pedestrians. TaSin kind of jumped out of the way with "where did he come from?"

As Jany crossed. The rule is, if you get left behind stay on the sidewalk and wait until the coast is clear again. This might take a while. Drivers here do drive like we do: driver on the left. I am not sure if I would drive. I am not certain about right-aways and signals or their absence. I know drivers rely on their horns and when you hear one, you are supposed to jump to the right so he can pass. I saw this alot in the country with shepherds and their zebu.

We went back by the coin exchange and got some old coins. Some of the bills have coin equivalents when the exchange was francs sans Ariary (which is at the bottom of the coin. I don't know why). Reminds me of the money in Senegal and Mali. The coins have zebu on them and one has a rooster, another a queen (French), and the other two I can't read. I will have to clean them up first. The oldest coin I bought is 1943. It's 1 franc. It is copper with a rooster on it. I think it is worth the least, but it is the prettiest (smile).

We picked up the stamps we ordered yesterday and then placed another order with another stamp maker. We went back to pick them up and realized I'd forgotten Pat. I just thought about how I also forgot Carol Afua. Oh well. We have to go and get Pat's stamp in the morning, since it started raining this afternoon.

We saw these two women wearing really lovely cloth, and asked them where they bought the fabric. Their answer is what took us to the part of Tana where the Indians live. We also saw some really fashionably dressed Muslim women, really stylish. I saw a man with two casts on his legs. I gave him a love offering. I saw a lot of old guys hanging out today, a bubble vendor and lots of kids eating ice cream. It was that kind of hot. Then, it is always that kind of hot in Tana: the hilly lovely capital of Madagascar.

Oh, before I forget, we went to a music store where one of the clerks looked like my brother. We had fun listening to music. There is a Madagascar artist who raps like Tupac, he really sounds like him. His message is from ghetto. One of his songs is about girl gangsters. Gangs in Tana are not like gangs in Oakland. The drug is marijuana and the biggest vice is prostitution. We saw a girl who looked like she was a prostitute this afternoon in Indian-town. She was wearing a copper colored wig and a short skirt. There are no handguns. I think the weapon of choice is a knife—if what happened to the tourists in the taxi in Morondava is any indicator. The bandits cut the throat of one of the drivers. He died.

We got more rubber gloves, ours have holes in both pair. We went by Shoprite too and got a free calendar, picked up more cashews and almonds, a towel for my wet face (smile), juice drinks for TaSin, water: Sainto for $1500 AR. We bought Eau Vive earlier. Because of the hills one has to think when one purchases items whether or not she can carry it up the hill (smile). I couldn't find packaged fried bananas, so I settled for the eastern mix sans, which I learned means --without chili. I had the one with chilies when we were on our road trip and it made my stomach hurt. The ingredients are roasted peanuts, potato chips and other interesting pretzels looking items, and something green like a leaf.

We went to a music store and listened to music. It was fun; we then bought a compilation CD and a CD with music from the south: Tsapiky featuring: Teta, Le Corrail Noir, Riake, Medicis, Tearano, Koezy, Zambey, Tsivery, Jafira, Laba and others. Another CD which is hot is called "Best of Best" (yes, in English, which made us think that Ameoba might have a Madagasy section (hum?). The Best of features artisrs from throughout Madagascar: Tense Mena, Jerry Marcoss, Lôla, Faqrah John's, Mima, Melky, Dat, Kôtry, Vaiavy Chila, Onja, and Wawa. We bought a DVD, Salegy Fever: La Fiévre du Salegy, with a concert featuring Wawa and many other artists like Vaneys, Vaiavy Chila, Lola, Black Nadia, Tafita, Rivera, DJ Bungalow, and Toto Mwandjani.

The recorded concert featuring Wawa live was in the north, Nosy Be area. That would have been the party for New Years. I have to find the spot for next year. I have yet to get my dance on for a New Year’s in the African Diaspora yet.

We are back at the hotel. Jany kindly translated the sayings on my Madagasy cloth—I forgot what they are called. I think we have five or six of them. He also told me about the royal family on the stamps I bought last week. I do have the queen who refused to be colonized by the Catholic church, the cool lady who tossed the converts off the cliff by her castle. After she passed, ruling over 30 years, the following queens, all three of them married the prime minister, Rainilairivony, who changed the law or constitution so that he was more powerful than the king. I have the stamp with the final queen as well. She is the one who the French General Joseph Simon Gallieni, helped escape the French and go into exile in Algeria. He is the one who donated his dwelling to the Madagasy government and is now a community center. It is not far from the Queen's Castle, which was burned down and the crown stolen.

We also tried to find DVDs to copy some of my photos and sims cards for my camera. We found three 8 GB at $40.000 AR each and 10 DVDs for $15.000 AR. That is $20 and $7.50 US respectively.

I did a little sewing, trimmed the edges of one of my pieces of fabric, blue with flowers. It says: "Ny Olon Tiana Tsy Mahalavin Tany," which speaks to long distance love. It says love bridges the distance.

I am not sure about that, unless one has frequent travel miles. It is a pretty piece of cloth. It was a remnant, and it matches my skirt from Senegal in navy with a lighter blue pattern of giraffes, masks, cowries, and elephants. I am also wearing my COA tee shirt from yesterday's dinner. I couldn't file my grades yesterday. I hope the system is up today.

I plan to complete the grades after dinner, the usual: brochettes du poulet, legumes with lots of garlic, "ail" in French "tongolo gasy," in Madagasy. We ordered a side of fritz. It wasn't as good as previous meals. Great one doesn't tip. No one expects it. Is tipping an American thing?

The staff could certainly use a tip here, perhaps more than waiters in the US. It's all relative.

It is storming now. We ate lychee to tide us over until the unsatisfying meal. Well, it was okay to me. I had been missing salad; I guess the chef heard me and grilled cucumbers on the brochette--yes, pretty creative cooking. With rules like: only eat food which is piping hot or peeled, one can only do so much gastronomically.

I wonder what people eat in South Africa? I am so excited. I want to dance every night and hangout grooving to music.

They speak English in South Africa. I don't think I can pass for South African, but who knows. There might be an ethnic group I can vibe with (smile).


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