The first two days on the ground in Mahanoro are best described as a haze. I'm running on empty, but it'll be good to meet the students on their first day back at School.
My bungalow, and the school, are both situated near the beach, within a kilometer of each other. The first thing you might notice here is the incredible raw beauty of this place.
So, after a refreshing wash down in my new modest bathroom, complete with two buckets, I put on some clean clothes and start the trek back to the School.
Give me a ring if you get lost said Sam, a few hours earlier as he helped me with my bag getting to my lodgements.
Don't worry, I should be fine, thanks! I replied, with the confidence of a hardened adventurer.
I wasn't fine. I got lost on the way back to School. After trying to retrace my steps, I had to resort to more desperate measures, such as asking someone for directions.
The streets in Mahanoro aren't really streets per se. Instead, they're well-worn paths that typically accommodate pedestrians, cyclists, and scooters. (I've yet to see a car since arriving here).
While there is litter everywhere, and animal poop to boot, it actually looks really pretty walking through these streets. Coconut trees, vines of all sorts, and giant Strelitzias the size of houses line the streets.
Almost all of the fences for people's homes are made from natural materials, and so too their housing. Think bamboo walls, and palm leaf rooves.
Back to our lost situation, I started asking locals (in the rustiest French possible) how to find the School.
Je searcher l'ecole Onja
Either my French is too bad, or nobody has heard of the School
Finally, an older man, with greying sparse hair, missing teeth, and a wonderful smile says in English he will take me to the school.
Between my broken French and his better English, I learn that the latest gossip is that someone died recently from Zebu (Ox) related injuries!
And also that his nephew is enrolled at the school!
He explains that his English is good because he used to be a local minister of Education. (Of all the people to ask for help, what a winner!)
When we arrive at the school, Sam is waiting for me, and he and our ex-Minister of Education exchange greetings and converse entirely in Malagasy.
Sam has been here 4 years already, and it's showing in his fluency.