It's Sunday, and most of the students have gone off to church. Yesterday things were pretty relaxed, but today is only formulated around the three regular meals we have as a group.
As a result, it's quiet, and Sunday gives me a chance to try some side projects.
Having food, and food capabilities only available at the school is both a burden and a blessing. It would be nice to have a space to prepare my own meals in the bungalow, but it feels good to have a regular and externally-motivated routine.
It means waking up in time to make the short commute to school, and also using the services available to us at the school, such as better Internet access.
I can't believe it's been a week already. Looking back, I guess this past week could be summed up in two major experiences:
- Settling into the school regimen
- Dealing with digestion issues
The students' routine is intense. Lessons start at 7am each day, but the school opens at 6am if they want to come earlier.
After breakfast at 8am, they have a 1.5-hour session of exercises or lessons, followed by a tea break. The tea break doubles as conversation time, where the students have to talk about the topic of the day, and practice their pronounciation.
Shortly after, is a guided pronounciation lesson, that can only be described as spellbounding. Sitting upstairs and listening to the students chant each vowel sound in unison is quite warming, it almost sounds like singing.
For Lunch, Mama Onza will have everything laid out for us, then it's up to all of us to clean up, and start making preparations for dinner. This could involve cleaning, cutting, sifting, and pounding the various vegetables we need for diner.
We reach a kind of mid-day slump at this point, so some of us take a quick break before we settling in for the afternoon's learning that starts at 2pm
By the time dinner rolls around, 6pm, everyone is still in high spirits. We talk over dinner about all manners of things, and share jokes. My dad jokes are a big hit here, I think I've found my people.
I haven't been feeling great after taking my daily Doxycycline, a broad-based antibiotic for combatting Malaria. It makes me sensitive to sunlight, a little lethargic, and is doing strange things to my digestion.
My stomach is also having to adjust to a primary diet of the local rice. Sometimes 3 times a day.
It's also much hotter here in Mahanoro, as compared to Tana. Humidity is very high, and sweating seems to be the order of each day. The heat (and sweating) persists through the night, sometimes uncomfortably so.
I find myself getting tired as the sun goes down, and it doesn't take much longer before I'm reading in bed, or trying to get an early night.
Looking back, I can't get over how special some simple experiences have become. Drinking cold Coca Cola is heavenly. Sharing the incredible flavour of Zebu Broschettes (Beef mini-skewers/kebabs) with friends is a great way to spend time.
But my favourite so far, has to be the local home-made yoghurt. It has the consistency and sweetness of Crème brûlée, but refreshingly cool.