Tuesday, January 6, 2015

What's it like? Questions on free-range peeing, embassy life and potholes

Whenever we meet someone living overseas (or even in a out of the way place like say...South Dakota), one of our first questions always is: What's it like?

So I've started a list of exactly those questions concerning Madagascar and living overseas in general. My goal is to answer them all by the end of our two years here (obviously we are writing about what it's like for us living here)

What do YOU want to know?  Let us know in the comments below


  • What it’s like to live in Madagascar?
  • What it’s like to get mail?
  • What its like to want something right now or on a Sunday afternoon or after 8 at night?
  • What it’s like to have ‘help’?
  • What it’s like to have a chauffeur?
  • What it’s like to work in an embassy?
  • What it's like to reserve a hotel room?
  • What it's like to fly on the national airline AIR Madagascar (also the ONLY airline for domestic flights)?
  • What's it like to not pay taxes?
  • What's it like to buy beef in Madagascar?
We will take a first crack at "What it's like to live in Madagascar" here.  Of note this will be a living post--meaning that we will update it from time to time.

            There’s a constant tension between beauty and ugliness—between wealth and gut-wrenching poverty.  Your driver takes you to work but you pass by poor children digging through piles of trash—you see people urinating EVERYWHERE and ANYWHERE.  But you also see smiles and people laughing  EVERYWHERE—you sit in mind-numbing traffic due to gigantic potholes and zebu-driven carts but you seldom hear horns blaring.

             You see Malagasy men (we have yet to see a woman)  of all ages hauling pousse-pousses (see first picture above) loaded with TONS of materials--bricks--gravel blocks--a stack of foam mattresses 30 feet high--anything and everything.  These super-human feats of endurance and strength are pretty awe-inspiring.

             T-shirts.  One of the favorite parts of my day--I think every family reunion t-shirt from the United States ends up in Madagascar.  Much like the ubiquitous asian character tattoo sported by so many in the US, most of those people sporting these different shirts here likely have little idea what they say.

               You learn about what we call the "Madabeep."  More on that soon.

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