Memoirs of Madagascar

Judith, a former member at Trinity, or as I like to put it a member away from home, sent us a journal on her journey to Madagascar.  How often can you get such insights of a trek into another world and culture?  With her permission I am posting her journal here in the comments the full journal is available as a download at the bottom.  Below are some pictures. 

Some of the Judy’s journal is in the comments here is the full journal>>



4 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by trinityhawaii on July 10, 2008 at 3:27 am

    11:55 AM, May 19, 2008

    The house is closed for 3 months and we are on our way for yet another adventure.

    This time my dear husband is taking me to the island of Madagascar, off the east coast of Africa, in the Indian Ocean. Madagascar is a third world country; not like the other countries my husband has taken me. Am I excited? I really don’t know.

    2:30 PM, May 19, 2008

    We have arrived at O’Hare airport in Chicago. What a circus!

    5:20 PM, May 19, 2008

    We have boarded Air France Flight 51 on our way to Paris. Thank God, the Great Yellow Father, (Caterpillar), is flying us first class. I am impressed. The seats recline almost flat, which is great, as I tend to swell up like a balloon if my legs are hanging down.

    Well, we are about to take off after a nice glass of Champagne and we look forward to this eight hour thirty minute flight.

    We have begun our life above the earth. First came our before dinner drinks; Ricard for me, served with a box of mini crepes filled with white cheddar cheese and then what?

    To start; olive oil marinated shrimp with spicy North African-style sauce accompanied by soybean salad with pecorino cheese, followed by Roasted fillet of halibut with capers and olives complemented by mashed potatoes and tomatoes. After that, some cheese and then Hazelnut-almond cake, followed by espresso.

    Well, after that I am going to rest. I deserve it!

    9:00 AM, May 20, 2008

    Well, that was quite a flight! Breakfast was served and we are now landing in Paris and have to rush to our next flight, which is 10 hours and 40 minutes to Madagascar.

    Let me tell you Charles De-Gaul Airport is the pits! We went from one terminal to another, packed like sardines in a bus. We finally got to the plane where we had to climb up the stairs and into the plane. Bless my dear husband! I do not do stairs well so he carried my carry-on, also his carry on and a 25 lb. Computer bag. I can’t wait for a glass of wine.

    Well, I have had my glass of wine (plus), and a fine meal. We are now going across the Mediterranean Sea and heading down the African continent towards Madagascar. A long flight! My choice of an after dinner drink was: Chartreuse from the northern area of France.

    This is the first time we have watched a movie together in a long time. We (I) picked a good one— The Bucket List. We both had tears running down our face. Very emotional for two old people. Now to rest!

    10:00 PM, May 20, 2008

    We are about to descend into Madagascar. Now the adventure begins.

    11:00 PM, May 20, 2008.

    We arrive at the Carlton Hotel. Thank God a bit of civilization! The room is fine; good bed and bath facilities. Even a bidet (Butt washer), which I will not use.

    9:30 AM, May 21, 2008

    My husband is off to the dealership. I am off to the pool. Nice pool. I have my reading material so I am all set.

    We’re off to lunch. I had a Quatre season Pizza and wine. Don’t want to drink the water.

    After lunch, we went about 17 Km to the power plant. Jerry was very impressed. He has seen many power plants in third world countries, but this plant was in A-1 condition.

    I got a tour of the city on the way to the power plant. Definitely not a place I would call home. There are 3 million people in Antananarivo. Poverty is all over. Some nice homes but the majority reminds me of conditions in China, Indonesia, etc.

    Meat is hanging on poles for sale along the sidewalks and dirt roads. Vegetables and fruit are displayed like the meat. This is going to make me think twice about what I eat here.

    7:15 AM May 22, 2008

    Today, we are on our way to Majunga where Jerry will oversee the engines being installed. We’re waiting for a pick-up to the airport. We have been waiting for ½ hour. Typical French-late!

    We will be going to Majunga in the company’s plane, which is a big Cessna. This company, Henri Fraise, seems to own everything. Well, I hope my stomach/nerves will survive the flight.

    We arrived safely in the small Cessna. Jerry had the opportunity to ride the co-pilot seat and I sat with 3 men behind, one being the 2nd in command of the company.

    No, Majunga is not as big as Antananarivo nor is the “Hotel” quite as nice. The room has room for the bed, desk and TV. There is a balcony facing the Indian Ocean and the Olympic-size swimming pool. The bathroom is going to take some getting used to. You have to hold the hose in the shower stall when you turn on the water or else it comes loose off the wall and floods the bathroom. I am glad that I brought my own soap, shampoo, etc., as there is only a small bar and small packet of shampoo.

    We met Yves from Geneva and went to lunch. Later, I came back to the “Hotel” while Jerry went to the power plant (not as nice as the last one).

    My choice of getting back to the hotel was walk, taxi or a pousse-pousse (Rick Shaw). Being adventurous, I took the pousse-pousse. Wrong Choice! The roads are not paved and very filled with ruts. I thought I would loose my lunch.

    Jerry forgot to give me the key to the room. I had very limited French to try and tell the people at the desk my predicament. All went well. I got in the room, flopped on the bed and slept the afternoon away.

    After a failed attempt for dinner at one restaurant we walked to another restaurant (same place as lunch) and had a nice meal. Transportation back to the hotel was in a 50 year old Peugeot taxi. The streets/roads are very dark at night so the taxi was a good idea. Anyhow, I have developed quite a nasty blister on my foot and am having trouble walking.

    5:23 AM May 23, 2008

    Up early. Had breakfast with Jerry. Tried to shower, but flooded the bathroom. I’m going to try and stay off my feet today and favor my swollen feet and blister, which is almost the size of a US quarter.

    I’m sorry I didn’t bring more books along to read as that will be my pass time for the next 3 months.

    Most of the restaurants we have gone to are owned/run by the French. The food is quite good. Very Rich. Tonight I had fish in a vanilla cream sauce. We
    always finish with a good espresso coffee.

    May 24, 2008

    I am getting up early (unusual for me) so I can have breakfast with Jerry before he goes to the power plant. After he leaves, I shower and again flood the bathroom. Darn shower!

    After the shower, I began to feel sick and threw up everything that I ate since I arrived. I’m staying close to the “Facilities” today and will not venture out.

    The man from Geneva is quite nice and helpful. He interprets for us when we are in need. Now get this coincidence. He lives in Vesnaz right down the road from where we lived in La Capite during our 5 years in Switzerland. Not only that, he bikes into Geneva everyday and knows Andy Bassam, our friend whose wife and children and himself became very close friends to this day. How’s that for a small world?

    May 25, 2008

    Sunday, Jerry isn’t working. We plan on sitting around the hotel. Jerry is doing some personal and then Cat emails.

    We had a lovely meal in one of the finest French restaurants in town. Very elegant. I’m still watching what I’m eating and drinking as my body seems to want to be near the “facilities”.

    This morning Jerry gave me a lesson on the shower and for once I did not flood the bathroom. I’m homesick! Pray that I adjust.

    Stay tuned for the next episode of “ The adventures of Judith”

    May 25 continued.

    We had an easy day being Sunday Jerry didn’t work. We laid around the pool, read and napped. We went to dinner in the evening with Yves. This time we rode in a 36 year old Renault. As you guessed, the taxis are ancient but the drivers/owners are quite proud of them.

    Talked to Allison. Made me even more homesick.

    May 26, Monday

    Today we get a car and driver.

    Our driver speaks a little bit of English so that helps. He took us to the bank to exchange US dollars for Madagascar Aryari. Four hundred US dollars gave Jerry a huge wad of bills, similar to what you would get in Indonesia or Italy. The four hundred US dollars equaled 616,000 Aryari.

    We then headed off to a bookstore to see if they had any English books. No luck! We did buy some post cards plus a book (30,000 Aryari or about US $21.00) written in French, Madagasy and English. Not worth the money, but nice pictures and info on the development of Madagascar.

    Score was our next stop. This is like a supermarket. They have just about everything from a bakery, deli, fruit, groceries, etc. It reminds me of the old A&P or older supermarkets.

    It is so sad to see the living conditions of these people. I have no idea how the poorer ones exist. However, most of the people here have some sort of work and appear clean and healthy.

    Tonight was Yves last night before returning to Geneva. He took us to a restaurant on the end of the inlet near us. We had a taxi that never drove in a straight line because of all of the potholes in the road. The road conditions plus the condition of the taxi makes me wonder if we will ever reach our destination or return again to the hotel.

    Diner was unusual. We sat outside. The whole place was not fancy, not one bit! Besides our companions of bugs and dogs around the table there were a group of French men who were here for a week of sport fishing. Three men took local girls back to the hotel. What a world we live in!

    May 27, Tuesday

    I decided to sleep in. Hopefully, my body will adjust physically and emotionally.

    This morning I gave my farewell to Yves; the traditional Kiss, right cheek, left cheek and right cheek again. He told me to take good care of Jerry. What about me I thought?

    The pool at the Hotel La Piscine (pool) is let out to schoolchildren in the afternoon. I admit that they are well behaved and love to swim. This is an Olympic size pool and they were doing laps consistently.

    If anybody really knows Judith they know she does not like bugs! She has a constant battle with the ants, roaches and geckos. Everything is shaken out before she puts any shoes or clothes on.

    This is our first night out for dinner without Yves. We did quite well. Judith, who is so naïve, now can pick out the “Ladies” of the night. They are so young. What a shame to have to succumb to this way of life.

    May 28, Wednesday

    Well I made It! It has been one week since we arrived. I don’t know if this is bad or good. There are fourteen more weeks to go.

    I have always thanked God for all of the blessings he has given me, but now I thank Him ten thousand times more. Until one goes to a third world country they cannot realize what they have. Especially those of us who live in America. We go around doing our daily routines and take it all for granted. I feel bad that I didn’t give two little beggar girls some money – if only a few coins. Next time I will.

    Our hotel room is 12”X12” with a Queen size bed. The mattress is about 6 inches thick sitting on wooden slats. The pillows are the size of throw pillows we put on a sofa. In fact, I think they are. Two are hard as a rock and the other two seem to be filled with fluff. Oh, I wish I had my body pillow!

    There is a small desk with a wooden chair, a table for the 15” TV and 2 small nightstands. So, with 2 carry on bags and 4 large suitcases it does not leave much room to navigate around.

    One doesn’t read too long at night because the ceiling light is only 40 watts. No lamps at your bedside.

    Jerry said we had to watch our suitcase weight so I only brought 3 books. Well, I’m reading them for the 2nd time. Another Cat guy is coming out from Georgia next week and he said he would bring me some books. Thank God his wife is a reader also.

    This evening, we ate here at the hotel after a failed attempt at the restaurant down the road. We had just ordered our drink (Fresh) when the lights go off; probably why they put a candle on the table. I wonder why it is that this happens when Jerry is around. Not to soon after, the lights came on and we enjoyed our dinner.

    May 29, Thursday

    I’m beginning to like this 12 hours of sleep I am getting. There’s nothing like a good nights sleep. I’m not eating breakfast at 7AM with Jerry anymore as I found some small boxes of cereal similar to the Kellogg variety pack, also milk, which is the long shelf life milk like we had in Switzerland. Today I had Petasles Choco (Coco Krispies). I ate it out of a paper cup with a spoon from the hotel kitchen.

    We’re getting into a routine and more organized. My carry on suitcase is used for my Mary Kay toiletries, vitamins, medicine, etc. Jerry’s is used for dirty wash. A cardboard box is our pantry for crackers, paper cups, cereal etc.

    On the floor of our small closet, Jerry keeps his Johnnie Walker (complements of Yves) and my Pastis. Our small refrigerator (and I mean small) holds our Fresh, water, cheese Etc.

    When I refer to Fresh I am referring to the Three Horse Beer, which is 1% alcohol, and the rest is citrus flavors. Quite refreshing. Oh yes, a bottle of wine is shoved in also.

    BBC is our entertainment for at least an hour or so. In fact, Jerry is beginning to enjoy the broad view of news they give. Other stations are in French and they show old American movies, other news channels and one similar to our Planet Earth.

    May 30, Friday

    This morning, when I left the room for the girls to clean, I went past another room with the door open. It was a bit larger then ours with two wash bowls in the bathroom, plus ½ a wall of two large cabinets to hang and store your clothes. Wow! As I was on my way to the reception area to read I thought what have I got to lose? I asked if there was a larger room, as ours was so petite, especially with the four large suitcases, carry-ons, etc. The fellow said he would see what he could do. Within an hour we were moved into a larger room. All for the same amount. Three cheers for Moi! Jerry said he wouldn’t have tried. I just pray that the shower is better.

    This evening we walked up the road to a restaurant where we were before. This is where the 4-legged rodent was circling the garden wall. Tonight, no rodent, only two kittens begging for food at our table.

    God Bless the mademoiselle who waited on us. She brought a mosquito coil and put it under my chair. Thus I had double protection; the coil, plus the mosquito spray I layer on my body, before we go out.

    We met the proprietor of the restaurant, a French man who had been here for 20 years. His English was quite good. He is a former chef. That is probably why his food is so good and the ambience is very nice (except for the rodents).

    We were the only people in the restaurant. We had a great time with good food and wine. We walked back to the hotel and sat out on the balcony looking at the fantastic stars including the Southern Cross. It certainly is beautiful.

    May 31, Saturday 10:30 AM

    We’re off to the country with our driver (he is 28 yrs) and his girl friend (22 yrs). It’s not long before we get off of the ruts and holes of Majunga’s streets and then we really hit the country roads, if you can really call them roads. My insides I thought were going to come up over the girlfriend. Very bumpy and very hot.

    Our first stop was at a sacred lake. “Au Lac Sacre”. I have no idea why it is sacred. We couldn’t understand the guide. Actually, the “Lac” is the size of a US city park pond. Grant you, it was very clear, with fish and water flowers, other wise, nothing special.

    From Lac Sacre we went to the beach where we had a drink of “Fresh”. Jerry and I collected some shells while the driver and his girl friend dipped in the Mozambique Sea.

    We went to some valley that looked a lot like our Grand Canyon but on a smaller scale. Here they refine the rock into fine sand. The rocks are different colors and so from these colored rocks that is made into sand the natives layer the sand into bottles and create scenes of houses, fields, people, cattle, etc. Very unusual.

    I also got to see miles of stalls selling anything and everything. It went on for about 2 miles on both sides of the road! This is the place where the driver and his girlfriend will take me next week.

    After stopping at Score (remember the super market) we headed back to the hotel, very hot and tired. Oh, I forgot to say, the car is not air-conditioned. The temperature was 86 degrees F.

    Oh, the highlight of the day was when we stopped for lunch at Zahamotel on the Mozambique Sea. Very nice! A true tourist place or you could say for Madagascar, it was for people who have money. The lunch was very good. The hotel has a nice airy reception area, pool, playground, tennis courts and a lot of air-conditioned bungalows for vacationers. It was truly a pearl in the rough.

    June 1, Sunday 10:00 AM

    Ugh! I woke up with a sore throat! Thank God Cat gave Jerry a medical kit. I’ll see what they have for me. Otherwise it’s off to the pharmacy (if they are open) today being Sunday almost everything is closed.

    Breakfast, (petite dejeuner) was papaya, which went down my throat easily and hot tea. Jerry who is feeling good had 2 fried eggs (I almost barffed), pineapple and rambuton, cold cuts and cheese. Good for him – I am glad he is feeling all right.

    I am finally getting to master the shower. Here, in the new room, the shower hose is newer (not much), but it doesn’t come off the hook when you bump the faucet and apply more pressure. The only problem with this one is the faucet is so sensitive that you could scald your body if your not careful. Mind you, I’m not complaining, I’m just letting you know minor problems this pampered American lady is having. I thank God I can feel clean at least once during the day.

    I chased a mosquito around the room. Clap! I got it! I didn’t know the mosquito must have bitten one of us because when I opened my hands, there was the squashed mosquito, along with blood. Yikes I yelled, get me a tissue. Boy, did I ever scrub my hands.

    Once again we say, “God is good”! We had brought our Bible with us and lo and behold, there were two Bible Studies inside the Bible’s leather cover. Every time we wanted to get into a Sunday Bible study at church, it seemed we were sent somewhere and we could never get involved. Well, now we have all of the time in the world. One study has 6 lessons and the other has 10 lessons. This should carry us through our stay in Madagascar. We have selected “Blessed are the Peacemakers”. Lesson 1 is on understanding conflicts. This will be a good one for me as I have a lot of conflict in my life for now

    Now I’m going to jump to the opposite end of the Bible Study. I wish we had a deck of cards! I would like to improve my cribbage game and maybe beat my husband, my brother, my buddy Sam, and my husband’s card playing partners, Shirley and Megan. Maybe even Pastor Shawn when we see him again.

    I am not going to add another thought today. Enough is enough!

    Second break
    June 2 Monday

    Same-o Same-o

    My highlight of today was watching a huge freighter being unloaded in the inlet right off of our hotel. The little tugboat must have made fifty plus trips back and forth from the freighter to the shore.

    It was time to replenish our small refrigerator and pantry (cardboard box), so off to Score with the driver. We found Pringles to snack on. They have more varieties of Pringles here then I ever saw in the US. We settled on bacon flavored and also paprika. Since we have such a small refrigerator, we buy small items like juice in small cartons similar to the ones we put into school lunch boxes. Some cheese, Fresh and wine rounded out the shopping spree. Then off to the Pharmacie (French spelling) to buy bandages and Ambusol. They had the band-aids but not the Ambusol for the sore in my mouth. Hopefully, Steve (Cat Rep from Georgia) can bring me some. Oh, yeh! We found mosquito coils and matches. Now we can sit out on our balcony with a glass of wine and enjoy looking at God’s beautiful start studded sky unspoiled by city lights and pollution. What a sight! Jerry is so good at pointing out different constellations.

    I’m still on my quest to find playing cards.

    Dinner – we went to the restaurant La Corniche where the two kittens nicely set themselves down by our chairs in hopes of a few tidbits. No rodents this time. We ordered Crevette alla something or another. It ended up being marinated raw shrimp with a mixture of who knows what. Jerry was in heaven, “Oh-ing and ah-ing. He loved it! The kittens got a fair share of mine. Next time I’m bringing my dictionnairer (French spelling) so I know what I am ordering.

    June 3, Tuesday

    After my 12 hours of rest and pampering this old body of mine (that takes time) I had a Petite Dejeuner of OJ and yogurt. I took my vitamins/meds and decided to go down to the pool. I’m beginning to feel guilty about this “rough life”.

    Reading is my favorite pass time. I am reading through the Brodie and Brock Thoene series of: AD chronicles for the second time. It is Biblical/Historical fiction. They are great writers. Another coincidence is that the third book in the series is dedicated to their friends at the University of the Nations, YWAM in Kona Hawaii. We had the opportunity to visit YWAM with friends, Mary and Ray Folger who we met while living in Guam. Mary and Ray dedicate 3 months each year doing God’s work among people around the world that need their help. Wonderful people!
    La Caprice was our selected restaurant this evening. Jerry had his escargot (snails) and Gratin de Mer (Sea food in a cheese sauce), while I settled for a Trois fromage (3 cheese) Pizza. My grandson Michael likes this 3-cheese pizza so I thought I would try it. Believe me, I don’t think he would eat this one. It was made with stinky bleu cheese, Camembert cheese and the cheese of the country (what ever that is). I was able to eat half of the pizza; the remainder went to our driver and his girlfriend. Yes, they have doggie bags and carry out.

    I never saw so many expats in one place-7, plus Jerry and I. Half of them were accompanied by “women of the night”.

    June 4, Wednesday

    Allison, our daughter gave us an early morning wake up call at 6:00 AM to let us know her knee surgery went well and that she is back at Julia and Warren’s place on beautiful Lake Sammamish. It will be interesting to see how she will get around as she is in a sling with her broken collarbone. It is times like this that I wish I were back home to help. I thank God for wonderful friends.

    I though I would have cereal with my OJ this morning. Instead of Kellogg, the brand is Casino- instead of Snap, Crackle and Pop the characters are Tom and Pelou. Instead of Coco Crispies it’s called Soufflés Choco. It tastes good.

    Oh, yes! Jerry came back to the hotel with a pack of cards, which he found in some small stall down a side street near the bank. Now the fun begins….

    Lunch time- Jerry came back home to the hotel for lunch. The news he brought was not good news. A large tree came down on the backside of our house; golf course side. The tree missed the house and is lying on our patio. A large branch broke off of another tree. Our neighbors said a large windstorm came through and did a considerable amount of damage. Again I say, times like this I wish we were home. Our neighbor called our lawn and garden service and then Jerry emailed them to clean it all up. Again, a blessing it did not hit the house.

    The driver and girlfriend took me to two markets. I bought two tablecloths embroidered with people of Madagascar doing farming, willowing rice by throwing it in the air from a tray, Zebu (Ox) Baobab trees, etc. I did bargain and paid a total of #42.00 for the two of them. That’s 54,000 Aryari in Madagascar money. This will be enough shopping for a while.

    June 5, Thursday

    I have now been in Madagascar for two weeks. Twelve more weeks to go. I feel like the little red engine that could: I think I can, I think I can …

    Last night we ate in the restaurant here at the hotel. I just didn’t want to get eaten alive by Mosquitoes. However, this morning I had 8 bites on my legs. I guess I could have gotten bit while I was walking around the markets where it is so dusty and dirty. I believe there are bugs here that I never knew existed. I also have two bites on each cheek. It must have happened during the night even though we bought a plug in contraption to keep them away. Jerry did the hand –clap in the shower this morning and got the bloody results just like I did.

    You all know that I am not much of a vegetable eater but last night I ate them all (quite a feat for me). They were so good! It was celery which was cooked with some spices and carrots also cooked with spices. Yummy.

    Seeing our hotel accommodations are so small, we only buy what we need for one to two days. So, now it is off to Score (supper market). The driver will pick me up, go and get Jerry at the plant, then on to Score. We probably will hit the 6:00 PM mass of humanity. That is when everything closes down. School is out, business closes and markets shut down.

    Toward evening, if we sit on the balcony we usually light up a mosquito coil to help ward them off. Well, when it was time to go to dinner we brought it inside but forgot to extinguish it. Yep, we came back to a room about 2 hours later to a room filled with smoke. There are no smoke alarms or sprinkler system in the hotel so no one was alerted. Now everything smells like smoke. Tough sleeping. We can’t open the balcony door or we’ll have an army of bugs in the room.

    June 6, Friday

    Well, the room is airing out and my eyes are not watering. During the day we can keep the balcony door open so that helps.

    The women who clean the room are great. The oldest of them is so funny. Every morning when I leave my key with them to clean the room, she gives me a big hug and does the cheek-to-cheek greeting. While I was out in the reception area waiting for them to finish with the room, she came out and gave me a head and shoulder massage. All of this because I gave her three English Novels so she could practice her English.

    Tomorrow, we are off to a National Forest Reserve, which is about 100km away, about 60 miles. I hope the roads are in better shape then the roads on last Saturday’s excursion. I’m told we will see some other animals besides Ox (Zebu) and goats. The only problem with this excursion is we want to be on the trip by 7:00 AM, which gives me only 10 hours of sleep instead of 12 hours. Oh, poor me!

    I mentioned that the roads and sidewalks, when they have sidewalks, are quite bad. Jerry found this out first hand when he stumbled and sprained his right ankle. Usually, I am the one who falls. Within 10 minutes we were back at the hotel and his foot was already swollen. It’s not broken, but sprained.

    June 7, Saturday

    I was up at 6:15 AM to get ready for our excursion to the National Forest Reserve. Jerry informed me that there was no hot water in the shower. Great! Boy, I woke up fast standing under the cold shower.

    The roads were not that bad to the reserve. The trip took 2 hours going through little villages and beautiful scenery. Some of the scenery reminded us of Wyoming, with buttes, bluffs and cliffs.

    The trip was quite an eye opener. The huts that the people live in are built of sticks and thatched roofs. Most do not have any electricity. They look like they are ready to fall down with the slightest wind. Some of the huts are made of red dirt. I wonder how they last through the rainy season? According to the local newspaper, that also has some articles written in English, last year over 190,000 people lost their homes during the 6 cyclones they had during the year. Most people have little plots to grow their vegetables and a banana or papaya tree. The paper also said that 70% of the people survive on less than a dollar a day. I guess there is not much for them to do as the majority of the people are sitting or lying down in the shade.

    You see a lot of roadside stands with fruit/vegetables for sale. Not too much is displayed and not too appetizing to look at. Also in abundance are Oxen (Zebu), pulling carts for who knows what. We went through the premier rice growing area of Madagascar and there we saw the carts filled with rice stalks. Madagascar is one of the biggest per capita consumers of rice in the world. At some places along the road, the people tried to sell us what I believe was goat milk. This was in plastic bottles, evidently discarded from old water bottles. Now I think I know what the third cheese on my trios fromage pizza came from when they said country cheese. Probably Goat cheese! Ugh!

    All in all, the excursion was great. We got to see people working in rice patties – bending over and replanting stalks of rice; walked across a cable suspension bridge to see some special Baobab trees. And naturally, we saw the lemurs that Madagascar is noted for.

    Lunch was eaten at the forest reserve. A fruit cup for me and curried chicken for Jerry. He said it was the toughest chicken he ever had.

    We finished the day with a fine dinner in probably the best French restaurant in Majunga. It is just across the street from the hotel so Jerry did not have to walk very far.

    During the night I had to use the facilities, so I turned on the light to see where I was going and rounded the end of the bed to find out we are sharing our room with a rat. I jumped back on the bed and told Jerry to check the bathroom before I went in. He saw where the rat probably came in because he left his calling card – droppings. There is a large hole in the wall where the toilet outlet pipe leaves the bathroom. He probably came through the space between the pipe and the wall. We will have to have it fixed tomorrow. Needless to say, I didn’t sleep well for the rest of the night.

    June 8, Sunday

    We slept in. Jerry showered first and guess what? No hot water! Out of 30 to 40 rooms in the hotel, wouldn’t you know the water heater outside our room was not working? After Jerry reported the shower and the rat, they gave us a key to another room so I could have a hot shower and they could repair the water heater. Rat hole to be repaired on Monday. In the mean time, they stuffed the space between the pipe and the wall with paper. I don’t think that will keep him out but what can you do?

    My day consisted, once again, of diarrhea and throwing up. When Jerry wasn’t hobbling around, we both read and took it easy.

    We called our son, Jr. to wish him happy birthday. Gosh, our youngest son is 38 years old.

    By the way, we asked our driver if there were any horses in Majunga, the city where we are staying, as we haven’t seen any in the surrounding area or on our excursions. We though it odd because the National beer is called 3 Horse beer with the picture of three horse heads on the label. He said there is 0ne horse in Majunga and that is for show/entertainment. You have to pay to ride it. Now this is what you would call a “one horse town”. He said there are more horses in the south of Madagascar.

    Stay tuned for the next segment of Judith’s adventures, or trials and tribulations.

    June 9 Monday

    Can’t forget that this is the day to take our malaria pills. It’s quite easy to remember. Monday starts with the letter “M” and Malaria starts with the letter “M”. Easy for my little mind to remember. We will have to take these pills for a few weeks after we are home.

    The little old cleaning lady was here this morning to give me a massage, but since I was feeling so lousy, I declined. She was happy, however, because I gave her two more books. At least we don’t have to hall them back home.

    All morning they have been trying to decide what to do about the hole where the rat came in. I just can’t understand why they just don’t plaster it like all of the other holes around the plumbing pipes have been plastered. What is so hard about that?

    Miracles never cease! They are here to plaster the hole! Jerry will be happy as I woke him up twice last night when I needed to go to the bathroom. He checks to see if there are any rats.

    Jerry’s ankle is still swollen and black and blue, but he is able to get around a little better. Taking it easy yesterday (Sunday) helped him a lot.

    Well, I have gotten the cockroaches and the rat out of the room and I wonder what predator will be next. Flies/mosquitoes are a never-ending battle. Thank goodness, Yves, sold (not donated) just like a French man, sold us some repellant that he had brought from Geneva. I use this a lot when we go out in the evening. 5:30 PM is definitely a wake up call for the misquotes. At night when we are sleeping we use the plug in mosquito contraption and I am usually covered completely except for my nose.

    June 10 Tuesday

    Knowing that the rat holes were plastered closed, I slept quite well.

    Now I know why I have been feeling so lousy the last few days. I came down with a major bladder infection, which is par for the course for me. I had the foresight to bring medicine incase that would happen. I’m still in pain when I urinate, so we went to the Pharmacie (Fr. Sp.) which sent me to another Pharmacie. Indians operate most of the Pharmicie’s. You try telling an Indian Man that you have a bladder infection and that you have antibiotics for it but you need something for the pain when you urinate. How embarrassing! Once again, sign language and my trusty Francais/ Anglais dictionary came to the rescue. Now we will see if the pills will do any good.

    We also had the driver take us to get some photos for our visa renewal. Again, a shop run by Indians. Naturally, Jerry’s photo was great while mine looked like the walking dead. The Indian photographer said to comb my hair (what little I had) but that didn’t help. This will be with one visa/passport photo nobody would want of could counterfeit.

    So, we got our photos for the visa and then it was off to Hotel De Ville (city hall) to get them stamped. All to no avail! They only stamp them in the morning. Oh, well!

    On the ceiling of our room are two hooks above our bed. What for? Well, some hotel guests are from Africa or other regions where they do not have air conditioning or they don’t want it on. Rather, the keep the balcony doors open, thus inviting the mosquitoes in. To accommodate these guests, they drape mosquito netting down around the bed. I can tell you that if we still keep getting bit, that will be our next request.

    Darn it! Medication form the Pharmacie for my bladder irritation said on the read out pamphlet that you could get a rash or diarrhea. Guess which one I got? That’s right, diarrhea! Can’t wait until my bottom torso is in good working condition.

    Jerry needed a haircut. The driver knew a place to go. We pulled up to a place called “La Figaro” (remember the opera). The barber and the people sitting around reading the paper were all local Malagasy. He took his combs/scissors and passed them over an alcohol burner to sterilize them. He turned Jerry around and started cutting with a scissor and an electric shears. That done-he proceeds with a safety razor and a comb. Jerry was getting apprehensive, I guess I would seem apprehensive also. Guess what? Best cut he ever had! All for the price of 5,00 AR, about $4.00.

    June 11 Wednesday

    Another mile stone. I have lasted 3 weeks here in Madagascar. Just another 11 weeks to go. How many of my dear family and friends are making bets that I won’t last. I’m beginning to wonder myself.

    Jerry and I didn’t eat out last night as we usually do because of my need to be near the white throne in the bathroom. We feasted on Zoute Crackers (Soda Crackers) and La Vache Qui rit fromage (the cow is right cheese) Pizza flavored. How about that! The package consisted of ten tranches (individual slices) Just like Kraft Cheese slices. We also had some Baby Bell Cheese. All of this was to my liking-raped and sterile. As for Jerry’s ankle, there is an old dark skinned man at the power plant. He has the biggest smile but no front teeth except for two gold incisors in the front. Anyhow, he saw that Jerry was limping on Monday, so, in limited French/Angle he asked to look at Jerry’s foot. Now for the next three days, Jerry is to get a foot massage and applied pressure points. The old man said three days and it will be OK. I said, “We’ll see!”

    Again, we went to La Corniche for dinner because it is close to the hotel. Per usually, the lights go out just as we are walking in. Bless Jerry-he carries a small Cat flashlight so we were able to be led to our table. A few minutes more and the lights came on but flickered all night. Tonight we were minus the cats and rats in the restaurant. Bugs were abundant. Jerry flicked one off our table cloth right on me. Thanks, Jerry!.

    Since I am out of books to read, I have been reading a magazine, which is in three different languages. I don’t know why I read it because it is so depressing. In the province region/State, there is one doctor for every 128,101 people and one dentist for every 102,902 people. Malnutrition among children is alarming. An outbreak of tuberculosis is observed. Leper, Malaria, diarrhea and SCD are also climbing.

    The distribution of water supply infrastructure is markedly imbalanced. The access to drinking water compels people to get water from rivers and ponds resulting in the propagation of bilharzias.

    Please, when you go to bed tonight, count your blessings. Jerry agrees with me that this is bad, but places he has been in Indonesia and Bangladesh have been worse.

    June 12, Thursday

    I’m still having trouble with the bladder and diarrhea, so if the medicine that Cat gave us doesn’t help, I guess I am off to a doctor or a hospital. Now, that would be an experience I do not feel I want to encounter.

    I’m back to the olden days-doing wash by hand. At least I can do the wash in a sink and not down by the river.

    It’s so good to talk to the USA. Allison and April call very regularly to update us on their happenings. Jerry’s sister, Ruth, and my brother Dick also talked to us. I don’t know if it’s good to talk to them because I feel so home sick afterwards. If I hear (which I doubt) the song “Take me home country roads” I know I will just break down and bawl.

    I forgot to tell you that last night at the restaurant, Jerry had his favorite, marinated raw shrimp. While he is doing his song of Oh!, Ah! I am doing my song of Yuk!, Yuk. How come Jerry eats all of these different things and he doesn’t get sick? Only me!

    June 13, Friday

    Still feel lousy!

    It seems every day that I am complaining, but truly, I am not. I’ve got so much to be thankful for and I focus on my blessings. I thought every day from now on, I will list a few things that I am thankful for.

    This evening, the Cat fellow from Georgia is arriving. God bless him, he is bringing me Pepto Bismo and wash clothes and best of all, books. Hurray!

    You know it’s getting bad when you have only the Francais / Anglais dictionary to read. At least I picked up a few more French words. Mr. Steve, (all the men are called Mr. No matter what their name is) arrived last night while we were out for dinner. Wonderful! Now I have 12 books to read. That should last me.

    When we got back to the hotel to meet up with Steve, there were police cars all around the area and with security guards all over. We found out the President of Madagascar and his staff was staying at the hotel. Well, I guess if it is good enough for the President, it is good enough for me. You could hear the guards walking in the halls during the night.

    To day, I am thankful for;

    1. I have shoes and more than one pair.

    2. I can bath in a shower / tub and not in a river or just splash water on myself when there isn’t a river.
    3. That I have more then one change of clothes that do not have holes in them or look like rags.

    June 14, Saturday

    Jerry had to show Steve the power plant so he was gone all day. Not one to sit around on Saturday, I had the drive and his girl friend take me to the market. I won’t tell you what I bought because some of it might end up with you.

    I read this article in the French / English paper; probably written by and Ex Pat.

    “Why Children work

    Eliza Tsimialozafy is only seven years old and is already working, because of poverty. Eliza is still a child and has a nine-year-old sister named Faniry and a little brother. They live in Majunga with their mother, Sahondra, a self-employed worker. The children’s father left five years ago.

    Sahondra was pregnant with here little boy at this time. “ I did everything I could. I washed peoples laundry, I was a maid; but I never earned enough money. Now that the kids are older they have to help me, even if I am feeling guilty about it.”

    Eliza and Fanary have to sell bontamo (a kind of donut made of rice and peanuts) at the sea side, the highly tourist board walk at the sea front. Sahondra gives them about 20 bontamo a day for sale. They start working at seven in the evening, after they finish school, and don’t go home until they have sold all of their merchandise. It was 10:00 PM when we met her.

    Sahondra is carefully watching out for them. This little interview was taken during Eliza’s work time.
    “-Do you have any bontamo left?
    -Eoa!!! (yes says Eliza)
    -Are you tired? Do you want to go to bed?”
    -Eoa, but my Mother won’t let me go home until I finish selling them.
    -But where is she?
    -She’s over there with her friends waiting for us.

    We felt so bad for little Eliza we bought her whole stock. We were surprised that our little friend was unable to count her money and give us the right amount of change.”

    Today I am thankful for;

    1. God is in my live and tht He is always with me.

    2. I have a church to go to and worship.

    3. I have family and friends.

    4. I never had to send my children out to work at seven years old.

    June 15, Sunday

    Jerry is trying, as is Steve, to get on the Internet but to no avail. My little notes to you are going to be late for this week’s edition.

    Today, our driver and his girl friend presented us with a little gift. It’s quite unique. They have special colored sands in the area and the take the sands and layer them in a bottle while forming images on the inside of the bottle. The images are of Madagascar, the Madagascar people and how they work. How they do it, I do not know! It is really beautiful and a very difficult to make, piece of art.

    Then we all took Steve to show him the countryside and Mahajanga. I guess it was too much and to hot for him because he fell a sleep. On these bumpy roads, I don’t know how he did it.

    Tomorrow, Jerry and I are on the road again. It will not be pleasant as we are driving down to Antananarivo (the capital of Madagascar) for Jerry to start overseeing the reworks to the engines that are going into the new power plant. It will be a 10-hour trip! The men are OK; they can relieve themselves on the side of the road. As for me-, you know. If I have to squat somewhere and get my buttocks all bit up, I’m leaving!

    We took Steve to the La Corniche (the rat/Cat place). Those cats know that we are going to treat them. They are cute, but not the rats.

    I’m going to tell Jerry that if he keeps ordering those raw marinated shrimp I won’t go out with him anymore. They make me sick, even to look at them. Although, deserts at the restaurant are great. I enjoy the banana flambé.

    Today I am thankful for;

    1. We have a food/drug administration to be sure that the food/meat/vegetables are fit to eat.

    2. I have a car to get around in and not have to rely on someone pulling me around in a pusse, pusse, (rickshaw) or that I do not have to walk umpteen miles to get somewhere.

    June 16, Monday

    We are on our way to Antananarivo. It is 7:30 AM.

    We stopped for lunch five hours later. A toilet! Doesn’t flush well but I can’t be fussy. I’m told the next 5 hours of driving I will have to do what the men do, relieve myself on the side of the road. I hope not! Again, I say, “we’ll see”.

    The driver went to get the car filled with gas. There is another company car following us and is carrying the gas. They pour it from a Jerry can into our gas tank.

    Out trip down to Antananarivo was to be about 10 hours. It turned out to be a little over 12 hours! If we weren’t going around speed bumps, twists, turns and potholes we were making hairpin turns on mountain roads. As you might have guessed, there are not to many guardrails. God was with us, or should I say, with the driver.
    After four and a half hours later, nature made it’s call. I gave Jerry the look and he made the driver pull over. After walking about one half of a block, among Zebu dung, I did my thing.

    Once again, I repeated a couple of hours later.

    The very last time was at a service station where we found a toilet on the back of the building. This was just as bad because it stunk to high heaven, had no paper, no lights and only a hole in the floor, over which I had to squat. Jerry stood in the door so I would have a little light and no one would try to get in while I was in the “room”. Never, never again, I told Jerry. When it’s time to go back to Mahajunga, I’m flying. To my surprise, he agreed! I guess he wasn’t too thrilled about being tossed around for 12 hours either. I’m sure if we would have been in the car much longer, I would have upchucked.

    Once again, we are back at the Carlton Hotel among the finer things in life, like soap, a shower I can handle, larger room, small refrigerator, coffee maker – all of the amenities a Hilton/Carlton would have. Plus, they have three different restaurants, a patisserie (bakery), shops, pool, etc. I think I died and went to heaven. Still with all of these blessings, I think I will come back to the U.S.A. early.

    Still feeling lousy even though I am watching what I am drinking and eating. I even use bottled water in the coffee machine.

    Today, I’m thankful for;

    1. Indoor bathroom facilities with toilet paper, shower and tub and clean white linens.

    2. I have a bed to sleep on and not the ground.

    3. I have a house to live in and not a mud hut or a make shift lean too made out of sticks.

    June 17, Tuesday

    All last night I felt like I was still in a car driving around hair pin turns from Mahunga to Antananarivo. Up twice during the night- diarrhea. Jerry was off to the power plant early but I copped to sleep in. I think I deserved it after yesterday.

    We are having trouble getting in touch with family in the US. I hope that is fixed as I worry about them so much. Until one is away from family and friends you do not realize how much they mean to you. I pray God keeps them all healthy and safe.
    Mind you, I am not much of a TV fan, but it is great to hear English-speaking people on the tube. We get CNN news, which I am sure Jerry is not happy about; he’s a Fox news fan. Besides the news in English, there are a few movies and network shows like re-runs of Gray’s anatomy, House Etc. I still have my head in a book most of the time. I am not watching the TV that often.

    Finally talked to Allison and April.

    Things to be thankful for:

    1. Thankful that we were able to get through to the US and know that the family is all right.

    2. Thankful that God is giving me this experience and letting me realize how blessed I am. One tends to forget!

    June 18, Wednesday

    Today marks my fourth week in Madagascar. One month! I am still not quite sure I will last the next two months.

    Madagascar is celebrating their Independence Day on June 26. The preparations are beginning with flags and banners going up and everyone getting excited. Just like the US, they have fireworks. We lucked out on that account as our Hotel Carlton overlooks a small lake where the fireworks are being sot off.

    We have been fiddling with the thermostat in our room. As we are in the winter season and since Antananarivo is 19 degrees South of the equator, and we are at 5,000 feet altitude, we are much colder then when we were in Mahajuga. So, all in all, the room was cold. Finally, Jerry called and mentioned that the thermostat wasn’t working. Evidently, it’s for show, because they brought in a space heater. Now I can thaw out.

    Tomorrow I have a doctors appointment for my bladder / diarrhea problem at a clinic with an English speaking doctor. Hopefully, I will get some relief.

    Today for lunch, I ordered mushroom soup. Yes, it had mushrooms in, but also had Shark Fin and clear rice noodles. It’s been a long time since we had Shark Fin soup and I know Jerry likes it, so we traded lunches. My soup and Hoagie an for his grilled Ham and Cheese with pom frites (French Fries).

    Tonight we are having room service since I am still feeling lousy.

    Things I am thankful for:

    1. I am thankful for a restaurant that doesn’t have mosquitoes and rodents around.

    2. Thankful for this break from Mahujunga.

    3. Thankful to stay in cleaner surroundings.

    June 19, Thursday

    Well, I bit the bullet and went to the doctor. Since we took out travelers insurance we first had to call the US and find out where they recommended we go. We were directed to “Francisaines Missionnaires De Marie Clinique Et Maternite St Francois D’Assise. We had to be there before 8:00 AM, which meant getting up at 6:15 AM. It was quite an experience! Grant you, it was clean, but pre war (World War two, maybe even World War One)- everything from buildings to hospital equipment. I gave a urine sample plus a stool sample. That was done under extreme conditions, for me, anyhow. The toilet stools, where there are some, never have a toilet seat on them. Try to relax to give both samples took some doing. You have to remember, it is winter here and I can’t relax because I am shivering so much. Finally succeeded! Again, God bless Jerry as he was at the door encouraging me. Tomorrow, I go back for the results and a blood test. Just to be sure, they are checking for parasites, which I am sure I do not have. That done, we are off to the Pharmicie, (French spelling) for the medicine. Thank goodness, the driver was along for all of this, as we truly needed him to interpret. He only knows a little English to tell us what to do. However, he was a great help.

    Jerry has deposited me at the Hotel for the rest of the day and he went off to work. Right now, I am down in the La Bistro, having a cup of cappuccino. I’m trying to build up the courage for the medicine I have to take three times a day.

    Getting to and from the Doctor/Hospital was simply unbelievable. There are cars, scooters and people everywhere. Everything is very, very congested. Cars are passing within inches of each other, people walking in front of cars and all over the road. Once the car is stopped in traffic, which is often, a beggar is at you windows. So very, very sad!

    Things to be thankful for:

    1. Thankful that God found an English-speaking doctor.

    2. Thankful that Jerry was able to be with me through all of this.

    3. Thankful that America is blessed with good medical facilities.


  2. Posted by trinityhawaii on July 10, 2008 at 3:35 am

    June 20, Friday

    Up at 6:30 AM. Off to have my blood test. I had miss giving’s about this blood test as I have very small veins and it is always very hard to draw blood. Plus, were they going to have sterile needles? Remember that Africa is the worst place for AIDS. All in all, the needles were sterile and the fellow drawing the blood got blood on the first try. Most of the time I’m being poked and poked!

    As I said yesterday, it is so depressing to be out and about in the city. You can’t believe the poverty! My heart goes out to the children who mostly are bare footed and bundled up with ragged blankets and torn clothes. Again, beggars are all over.

    Every bit of sidewalk seems to be covered with some sort of business or stall selling any type of food imaginable.

    While coming back from the hospital, I saw something that just about made me throw up. Walking threw crowds of people were two men carrying, on their bare heads, a whole half of raw Zebu (ox), leg and hind quarters and all. Eventually, this is taken to an open-air stall and sold to the people. Mind you, these stalls are usually along the dirt roads. You can just imagine the contamination! No wonder these people do not live long.

    I was my usual self today – had my head in the clouds. After the blood test, we drove back to the hotel. The doorman graciously helps me out of the car and I continue up the steps to the door, only to fall flat on my face, what a picture! The doorman is trying to pick me up while straddling me. Naturally, I got up, gave my “mercie Bo coup’s”, and walked sedately away. All this time Jerry is on the phone in the car on the cell phone and is oblivious to what has happened.

    My next head in the clouds trick happened when I decided to have the buffet breakfast in the nice sit down hotel restaurant. It was quite good and had beaucoup choices. After I finished with my tea, I asked for the L’addition (Check). They came back with the addition marked with Gratis, (free of charge). I thought that is unusual. Upon looking around, I saw I had passed a sign “Parivat-Pitite Dejeuner-pour employees of some big corporation.” I kindly apologized for intruding, paid for my breakfast and again graciously walked out. Where is Jerry when I need him?

    Jerry came back to the Hotel after 8:00 PM. The big Mucky-mucks of Henrie Fries, owners of the Cat dealer ship and the power plant had a small after work get together of about 25 people. Everyone is impressed with the progress of getting the engine together, and Jerry’s knowledge. As they didn’t have one certain tool for working on the engine, Jerry adapted and put together a tool that would work so he could get the work done in time. He got a “Job well done” from the plant in Indiana, plus the mucky mucks in Indiana.

    Today I am thankful for:

    1. My blood test for going as well as it did.

    2. Lasting as long as I have here in Madagascar

    3. For God truly opening my eyes to poverty in the world.

    June 21, Saturday

    Jerry is working a half day today. He was up early, I was up late. After my foul up yesterday for breakfast, in the nice restaurant, I decided to eat my French cereal and milk, along with some wonderful Madagascar tea in the room.

    We are off to Score this afternoon. Let me share with you what a friend from Hawaii had to say about “Score”. This person mentioned in the U.S. to “Score” would be to get drugs or “Score” would mean you had sex, Believe me; we went to Score for food and other shopping and not anything else.

    We have a small refrigerator in the room, but it never got really cold. We mentioned this to reception and before you knew it, we had a new refrigerator put in.

    Being long-term guests in the hotel, each day we have fresh flowers put in our room.

    After we went to “Score” the driver mentioned that we had to pick up Yves (the Cat fellow from Switzerland). Low and behold, Yves was at a huge market, which is frequented by Ex-Pats. While Yves wasn’t ready available, I couldn’t wait to jump out of the car. I bargained a little and bought a little. Yves appeared and we had to leave. Tomorrow the driver will be at the hotel at 2:00 PM to take me back.

    Things to be thankful for:

    1. CNN to keep us abreast with what is happening in the world; especially the flood is the mid west.

    2. My Grandchildren who do not have to experience this poverty

    3. My Husband, Jerry, who is so patient and good to me.

    June 22, Sunday

    Jerry and I had breakfast down in the restaurant: again a buffet. Very good! They have Jerry’s favorite, Leches, a great fruit, smoked sardines, smoked fish, and Rambuton. He really likes them. On the cheese / cold cut table they even had special smoked meat, including different smoked ham. Jerry doesn’t get sick on all of this stuff, but I do. Good for him.

    Jerry has worked on his expense account and other items that need attention to the power plant, so he has been keeping himself occupied. I spent my time reading and rearranging the closets and drawers, which seem to get so messed up when we are in a hurry to go somewhere.

    The driver was right on time to take us to the market. What fun! I love to bargain and when I do Jerry usually sometimes walks away from me. I usually get my price, however. In fact when one fellow wouldn’t meet my price, I said no and walked away. A block later he tracked me down and said OK! Finally, Jerry said “Enough!”

    Tomorrow I am off to the doctor for my blood test results. I will keep you informed as things develop.

    What I am thankful for:

    1. Our family and friends who have been ill but are now recuperating. God is good, all the time!

    2. Family / friends who are emailing us to let us know what is going on in the other side of the world.

    3. That God is in my life; Blessing me beyond measure and keeping me safe.

    Tomorrow I am off to the Doctor for the results to my blood tests. I’ll keep you informed.

    June 23, Monday

    This city of Antananarivo never ceases to amaze me. Among all of the poverty there are still the elite and tourists who seem to turn their heads as to what is going on around them. I’m positive that if some of these people would intervene with the government it would be a start in the right direction. Grant you there are people (businesses, entrepreneurs,) starting to help, but it seems the government can’t get a foothold on the problem. If they could, it would be a start in the right direction.

    Jerry and I have a room on the tenth floor overlooking some official buildings, business offices, schools, etc. Right across the street, since we have been here, there is a family of four (father, mother and two children) sitting under a tree with all their bundles of their worldly possessions. They eat/sleep and what ever right there. My heart goes out, especially to the two little ones. They are both bare footed and one of the little ones has a red coat hanging down to the ground (way to big for her) and a filthy white knit hat covering her head and face which is covered with sores. She leads the other little one up and down the block all day while the parents sit under the tree on the side of the sidewalk. This is only one incident. There are thousands like this through out Madagascar. Yet in other areas of this country, especially along the coastal regions, you find fantastic resorts with people oblivious to the poverty. When Jerry and I give money to the beggars we wonder how far it goes and what they do with it. Yet we think, “What would Jesus do”?

    Another thing about the people across the street is that the people that pass them walk around cars that are parked on the street just so they don’t have to face them.

    The Doctors visit went well. He changed me to a different antibiotic. I hope it works, as we are off to Majunga within a week and I don’t want to have to get another Doctor there. However, Dr. Louis said I could call him any time I needed him.

    After admiring his doctor certificates on the walls in his office, which includes John Hopkins, Mass General, and many other US hospitals where he studied or had fellowships, I also asked him if the photos on his desk were his children. No, they were his grandchildren. He showed us another photo of his 12-year-old grand daughter who lives in France and is one of France’s National figure skaters.

    The doctors office was within a security area where there are different embassy’s, including the US embassy. You go through a security point where they scan you car, look inside and check under the hood. This area is where we went with Yves for dinner – Chalet Des Roses. You would think the restaurant that is within a secure area would be a top-notch restaurant. Well, maybe some people might think so but I was queasy all night from the food as was Jerry.

    What I am thankful for:

    1. For a shoulder to relieve my emotions while I am here. Meaning family and friends.

    2. Knowing that God is in charge, watching over Jerry and I.

    3. Knowing I have a beautiful and secure home to go back to.

    June 24, Tuesday

    What a restless night for me. I’ve been having some weird dreams lately and last night was no exception. I wonder if it’s the medication?

    Besides feeling lousy and having a restless night, I got what you would call an unusual wake up call. At first I thought, what is that noise? To me it was like a Chinese funeral procession where the mourners follow the casket to the cemetery while banging on kettles, drums and shrieking to keep the evil sprits away. We experienced these when we lived in Singapore and Taiwan. I looked out of the window to see what I would say was a three block long protest rally. The noise was something else. This caused the early morning commuter traffic to come to a stand still.

    This little engine that thought she could doesn’t know for sure that she will last for another month and a half. I’m starting my third week of antibiotics and it’s taking its toll on me. I need the antibiotics as the doctor said I still have white blood cells in my urine. I pray this one works.

    My brother Dick and sister in law Barbara called tonight. Dick said he stopped by our home in Battle Ground on his way back from Ohio. He mentioned that everything looked good. The lawn and the flowers were very nice. He said it was a shame that we weren’t there to enjoy them. With all of the problems I am having (health wise) they thought I should come back to the States. We will see. I know Jerry would like me here but he also doesn’t want my health jeopardized.

    What I am thankful for:

    1. That God is healing and comforting family / friends who are hurting.

    2. Soap, shampoo, and clean water – all things that I just took for granted.

    3. That I can eat when I am hungry and not have to go out and beg for money to get food.

    June 25, Wednesday

    The Capitol here is getting ready for their Independence Day tomorrow. The outside of the Hotel is bedecked with banners and flags. Plus the streets, houses, all are displaying the national flag. As in the States, everything will be closed for the holiday. That means Jerry doesn’t have to go to the power plant. I hope!

    There is something I keep forgetting to tell you. Quite amusing, really. I am sure you are all aware of the reality show, American Idol. Also, England has their equivalent. But, did you know Africa has their own TV African Idol show. Believe it or not, it is in English and is quite entertaining. Naturally, they are all black Africans – very talented.

    Today, the weather is perfect. The sun is out and warming thing’s up a bit. I decided to go down to the pool and sit, read and write to you all. Pretty many people had the same idea. Two and a half hours at the pool did me some good. I got my mind off of being home sick for my family.

    Steve, who is Jerry’s counterpart in Majunga, said there is an English-speaking girl working at the hotel that is going to come down to Antananarivo and work for a travel agency. When she gets here, she said that she would take us around the town to see all of the special sights. Something to look forward to.

    I guess the Independence Day celebration is beginning to take shape tonight already. People are all over the place shooting off firecrackers, carrying lanterns and light sticks and just being a part of it all. As people are walking everywhere the traffic is almost shut down. I wonder if Jerry will make it home before 10:00 or 11:00 PM? Fascinating to watch it all.

    Low and behold, Jerry just walked in. It took an hour and a half for him to get here. Normally, it takes about 10 minutes. He said that people had begun to walk to the center of the city at around 4:00 PM. Many people walked 5 or more miles to reach the area of our hotel. Car traffic and people filled the streets completely. Everything moved at slower than a snails pace. The area in front of the hotel is where the fireworks were to take place. Looking down from our 10th floor window, the area below was filled with thousands upon thousands of people, and I am not exaggerating. It looked like a massive slowly moving carpet of people and cars, all mixed together, trying to get to the area where they would have a good view of the fireworks. Cars were double and triple parking on the side of the streets adding to the stoppage of the flow. Jerry had a glass of Scotch and I had a glass of wine and we settled back to enjoy the show. The fireworks were fantastic! Just like one of our 4th of July in a major city. The fireworks looked like they were right in front of our window. We had the windows open and when the rockets exploded we could feel the concussion and could hear the people oh-ing and ah-ing. It was quite a night. The fireworks lasted for almost 30 minutes and then it was time for all of the cars and people to try and get back to their homes. It probably was a long night for those little ones that had walked 5 miles or more to see the event.

    What I am thankful for:

    1. That I was able to experience another countries Independence celebration.

    2. Experiencing another culture.

    3. Knowing that there are religious missions / organizations to help these people and to help them to know God.

    June 26, Thursday

    After the big celebration of last night things are relatively quiet today. All business offices and stores are closed so traffic is very minute compared to other working days.

    About ¾ of a mile from the hotel we can see the “Stade Municipal De Mahamasina” which is a very large stadium. The stadium was packed with people attending a rally regarding their Independence Day.

    Every day we pass a patisserie, which is down stairs in the lobby of the hotel. Today, while they cleaned the room, Jerry and I gave in and bought a pastry for each of us. Wow! Just like France. All the baking is done here in the hotel and it is just heavenly.

    The pastry was delightful – far more appealing then what I had for lunch yesterday. Jerry usually comes back to the hotel for lunch, which gives him a break and a chance for us to see each other. We took advantage of the lunch buffet, which has a great selection. My eyes settled onto a wok of stir fry, which had vegetables and shaved poulet (chicken). I mentioned to Jerry that I was impressed with the way they had shredded the chicken so fine and about 1 inch long and that it was quite tasty. He looked at it and smiled and said, “ Judith, that is tiny fish. Notice the eyes on the one end?” Ugh! That was the end of that meal. It certainly looked like shredded chicken, something like fine string except for the two eyes. From now on, my trusty Francais/Anglais dictionary is going to all of my meals so that I know what I am eating.

    We were just settling back, having a cup of tea when one of the girls brought in a vase of fresh cut flowers, which they do twice a week for long-term clientele. The flowers and the constant supply of a variety of teas are a lovely touch and a great boost for me.

    It is such a lovely day; we decided to go for a walk. We walked about ¾ of a mile. It was a stroll that I don’t think I would take alone. Let me tell you why. Amount the nice / trendy people that had shoes on their feet and warm jackets, we passed many beggars and bare footed children. While a Mother sat on the sidewalk, her two children (about 3 and 4) followed us until we gave them some money. When you see these children you want to cry. Not only are they bare foot and dirty, but also you can see that they had colds because of their runny nose and blurry eyes. After we gave them money, I sent them back to Mama.

    Now I know why it smells here in the city. On a short walk, we saw garbage piled all over. I didn’t see any thrash cans anywhere. Besides the smell of the garbage we saw about three men relieving themselves against walls and buildings.

    Don’t get me wrong, Antananarivo has some beautiful areas but they are few and far in between. No urban or sanitation codes seem to be in place.

    Thinks I am thankful for;

    1. We have money to give these children.

    2. That you, along with us are praying for these people.

    3. Jerry and I had a whole day to ourselves.

    June 27, Friday

    Yesterday after our walk Jerry and I read for a while, caught up on CNN and typed my notes to all of you. Then we played a game of cribbage. After I won the first game we started in on another only to be interrupted by fire works again. This time the display lasted for 53 minutes without even a small break. This was two nights in a row for fireworks. It was spectacular! Jerry counted a minimum of 4 small rockets a second going off and as many as 16 per second. This never stopped. In between the little rockets, that only went about 150 feet up, they sent up the big spider type fire works that went way up. As many as 4 of the big rockets would go off about very 30 seconds. It was a continuous noise that almost took your breath away.

    Yes, it was a great celebration of their Independence Day but Jerry and I thought of the thousands of dollars that was spent in the last two nights. As was said by another ExPat while we were going to dinner, “Yes, it was great, but all that money for the last two nights could have been spent to help build up the economy, clean up the city and help the poor.”

    All the help is beginning to know us. Last night when we got the L’addtion (check) they already had his name and room number all printed out. He only had to sign his name. Once we got to know all of the help, they have gotten quite chatty. Most have come from other parts of Madagascar to earn more money to send back to their families. Some of them have shown us on a map that we keep, where they are from. You can tell that they truly care about their families and their country.

    This afternoon, I treated my self to a pedicure. Although I felt totally pampered, I feel that only the US knows how to give a pedicure. By far, the US codes of sanitation have to be above these in Madagascar.

    Back in my room I answered a knock on the door only to be greeted by another white-coated waiter, bringing in a plate of assorted fruits. I guess being a long-term guest has its advantages.

    What I am thankful for:

    1. For the helpful and pleasant ways of the help in the hotel

    2. That other ExPats feel the same way we do about conditions in Madagascar.

    3. That I have been keeping this diary, so that I can reflect on it to remind me that I have so much and they have so little and still they are happy.

    June 28, Saturday

    Jerry had to work today. This being Saturday, he should have had the day off. But since Yves is returning to Geneva this evening, it was best that they worked to tie up the loose ends from Yves side of the work.

    Jerry first got back at 8:30 PM last night as they had another get together, this time for the workers as well as management. The mechanics that he works with marveled that he is going to turn 70 years old and is still working. He gets along well with the mechanics and they are learning a lot from him. Then they asked, “Why is he still working at his age?” He said, “He likes the job and he has been so blessed”. Well, that caught their attention and they had a good discussion on religion. Most of them are Christians. Praise God.

    Among the gathering last night was one of the Mucky Mucks that flew us to Majunga in the company Cessna. He is very pleased with the progress and Jerry’s way of work; both professionally and with his rapport with the workers. He offered us a trip to a small island off of Madagascar in the Cessna for a two-day weekend. Sounds great! Wonder if we will take him up on it?

    I’m feeling better. I still have urine problems and bouts of diarrhea. I’m getting the prescriptions refilled today to see if it will help. If not, Hello USA!

    Things I am thankful for:

    1. Jerry’s hard work is recognized here and in Lafayette.

    2. God’s word is alive here in Madagascar.

    3. That the workers feel that they can come to Jerry for advice and direction.

    June 29, Sunday

    Another Cat rep has arrived. He is from Florida Living there and working for Cat. His main office is in Kiel Germany but he works out of his house in Florida. This fellow, Paul, has been to many places and seen a lot. However, he agrees that Madagascar is really a third world country. He is in his 50’s and is really a quiet sort of guy.

    We took Paul to the market this afternoon, where I bought a few items, and he got to see the city and a little of the 3 million population.

    Last night, we took Paul down to the “fine dining” meaning, they have table cloths on the table and if you want wine, beer, sodas, etc. it is served in nice glasses instead of the Three Horse Beer glasses.

    I have developed quite a sore in my mouth so I am on soft foods. That means that I don’t have to chew a lot and thus irritating the sore.

    Things I am thankful for:

    1. A driver who doesn’t mind taking us out on Saturdays or Sundays.

    2. The staff at the hotel. They are great! They even great us as Monsieur Krohn and Madame Krohn.

    3. Jerry’s work is progressing here in Antananarivo.

    June 30, Monday

    Jerry came back to the hotel for lunch, which s par for the course. He brought me a present from Therriy (one of the mucky mucks that I right about). Jerry said it is considered Madagascar GOLD. It happens to be Vanilla Beans. This is in it’s raw / seed form. I’ll share it if you would like some.

    I also plan on bringing back some peppercorns that we can get direct from the factory. I hope that we can get the red pepper also.


  3. Posted by trinityhawaii on July 25, 2008 at 9:03 pm

    July 13, Sunday Another beautiful clear day. Jerry is still working on Cat work. However at two o clock we invited Tantaly and Nati to come and swim at the hotel. They were amazed at the sight of the Olympic size pool. Tantaly and Nati will stay in Majunga as loon as we are here or other Cat people. When all is done, they will go back to Antananarivo, the capital of Madagascar, where they live. As of now they are in a small room at a local home and I mean local. They were so happy when I gave them some mosquito lotion and a fly swatter for the mosquitoes. Tantaly usually uses his had or a wrapped up T Shirt to kill the mosquitoes. They are so happy and great full for all those small things we do for them. Oh, yes! While the girls cleaned our room, we went out to the reception room to read the French Angle News’s paper. All of a sudden, Jerry said to look out of the window. There was a full herd of Goats going down the street, right in front of the Hotel. Let me tell you, there is always something happening. Today I gave Nati my Guidepost magazine. I know that both of them are Christians. Nati is taking confirmation lessons to become a member of the Lutheran Church. I thought that maybe the Guidepost would have a two-fold purpose; One, to work on her English and two for the inspirational stories and prayers. Things I am thankful for: 1. Small things to share with other people. 2. For a new experience every day. 3. For this beautiful country that has such an impact on my life.

    July 14, Monday Today is “C’est le jour de l’irnde pendante Francais” (today is the day we stopped our dependence on France), that is a close as I can interpret the French that a man wrote out fro me. Again, there is security all around the hotel. Today we cannot eat in the open-air restaurant at the hotel because the local French are having a huge reception for the Mucky Mucks by invitation only. The French Ambassador is also here from Antananarivo, the capital, bedecked with ribbons, sash and all.
    While in the reception area of the Hotel, I met with and talked to a women from Washington DC whose husband works for World Bank. The husband is French, she is Malagasy and three of her children were borne in Washington DC. She also has an older daughter, 37 years old, who was born here in Madagascar. Her 15-year-old boy is quite interesting. He has a ring pierced in his eye brow, lip and ear, but a wonderfully polite young man who is very proud of his Go-Cart that he has built and races. Besides the three younger children, the older daughter lives in Antananarivo and she has three children. So I met all of the children who are nieces and nephews to each other. Mother and daughter were pregnant around the same time. Anyhow, all are here in Majunga for vacation until the end of July when they are off to France for a month. Very friendly people. I have been closing the door to the bathroom at night. Jerry finally told me to leave it open because if the door is closed, the mosquitoes like it warm. For some reason, the mosquitoes like to hide under the toilet seat. Thus, they are biting Jerry’s butt while he is sitting on the toilet. He is get quite upset! Also you should see the mirror in the bathroom where Jerry and I swat them constantly. I’ll have to make sure the girls clean off the mirror. During the night, when I got up to use the facilities, I found a big cockroach, belly up on the floor. Things I am thankful for: 1. That every day here is a little bit easier for me. 2. That in another 4 weeks, I will be back in the USA. 3. I will try never again to take my comforts for granted.

    July 15, Tuesday Jerry’s watch gave up after he wore it a little too much in the water. He tried yesterday to buy one here in Majunga but the prices were around $500.00 and he was looking for a Casio for about $25.00. In stead, he bought an alarm clock so he would not over sleep and wore one of my watches for part of the day. Hopefully, he can purchase a watch in Antananarivo. Last night I had to iron the pantaloons (slacks) that I bought. Our dryer, which turns into an iron is “ Kaput”, so I had to borrow the one and only relic from the hotel. Today, I told the reception to tell the owner to by a new iron as this one is on its last legs and won’t last much longer. The fellow said OK and would relay my suggestion. He told me to put my suggestion in the suggestion box on the counter. If I do that, I may get carried away with suggestions and that could result in some unhappy situations for us.
    The Embassy of the United States announced the selection of two Malagasy men to attend U. S. Service academies in he U.S.A. One will go to the U. S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs and the other to the U. S. Naval Academy in Annapolis. Both are four-year scholarship programs. Each year the Academy’s allow a few select foreign-born students from around the world to apply for admission. The U.S. Academy has a successful and competitive program, which requires only the best-qualified candidates. Upon graduation a ten-year commitment to the Malagasy Military is required. Madagascar can be proud that two were chosen from among all of the applicants from all of the foreign countries. This afternoon, I went for a drive in the rural area with Tantaley and Nita. We drove past some acreage where they were growing produce. I saw about 10 men holding a huge hose, similar to a fire hose, and one man directing the nozzle onto the plants. In another area, two men were each carrying two five gallon sprinkling cans, one in each hand, going down the rows of tomatoes watering each individual plant. As the temperature was close to 90 degrees F, and there were many acres to be watered, I didn’t envy them. They get paid two U.S. dollars a day. I believe that our migrant workers make more then that. Tantaley and Nita wanted to show me a beach. He parked the car and we walked for about a block on a dirt road and came across many, many beach umbrellas, with vacationers having a good time. It wasn’t the cleanest beach I have seen, nor was the dirt road we walked on. There was Zebu and Goat dung every 20 feet. Along the side of the dirt road were little tables with people selling food, adorned with flies (if you want protein) and fresh coconut milk to was it down with. No I did not try the food or drink. Things I am thankful for; 1. To find out what life is like outside of the U.S in a third world country. 2. That I can get along fine with a few necessities. 3. For sanitation standards.

    July 16, Wednesday I’m getting closer! Only 4 weeks to go. I’ve gotten this far in our stay here in Madagascar, so I won’t give up now. There were times I thought I couldn’t stay the three months, but God was with me all of the time; during the good times and the bad times. Twice a week air France flies into Madagascar. It is so interesting to see the people checking in and out of the hotel. I find it amazing how many tourists are here; Indians, Chinese, Japanese, Philippine’s and naturally the elite from South
    Africa along with the people from all over Europe. Among them are not only singles or couples but also whole families. They have either saved for this vacation or are very rich. The cost of the tickets is very expensive! Jerry and Steve came back to the hotel for lunch with big smiles on their faces. After many weeks of preparation, they finally started the new engine and it fired off on the first crank. “Congratulations!” Only three more engines to go. Slang words are used all over the world by our youth. Here In Madagascar the youth say, “ Ra Marie” (miss Mary,) which means hungry or very hungry. Everyone, without exception, use this expression when they are hungry, even people in the streets. There are two different student groups that are fighting about who was first to use this slang word. One group stresses that they ate at the cafeteria where Mary worked and used it as a code word when they did not want others to know when they wanted to eat. The other group, from another school proclaimed they were first to use “Ra Marie”. They played a prank on the owner of a grocery store near the school also called Mary. Such simple things just don’t make sense. It all sound s stupid to me as does all slang. This was a major article in the French/Anglais newspaper. Things I am thankful for: 1. That I have a life that will never end, even after I die! 2. That God cares for me. 3. That every day I have something to be thankful for.

    July 17, Thursday Steve and Jerry are now on a roll as the first engine is now up and running. Even if the next three engines are not running by the end of our last month we will be leaving on August 16 at 1:00 AM as our visa will expire. Jerry will have to return to Madagascar, but I will opt to stay back in the good old U.S. A. eating my German Brat, American Hot Dog and KFC. Just writing about it makes my mouth water. Steve and Jerry are taking the mechanics and crew out tonight, so I am on my own. I could have gone along, but didn’t feel comfortable being the only women among 17 men; anyhow, I don’t speak Malagasy. I am happy enough eating my cereal in the room. I could go alone to the Hotel Restaurant, but if I would meet a rat on the way, I think I would probably faint or have an encore of diarrhea. If any of you people are in New York sometime you might want to visit the Bronx Zoo. The Wildlife Conservation Society has meticulously created Madagascar’s Eco system. They have many plants and animals such as the Lemurs, Nile Crocodiles, Red Tomato Frogs, Giant Pythons, Tortoises, and Mongoose etc.
    Also, you might want to see the 100,000 (0r so) Hissing Cockroaches, which make their residence in a giant, hollowed out walk in “tree” made out of sculptured concrete. Personally, I wish they would have taken all of the roaches as I am still finding them in our room. About 80% of all of the plants and animals found in Madagascar are unique only to this island nation. Things I am thankful for: 1. For the second education I am getting in my senior years. 2. For all of the men and women serving in the military 3. That I can talk to God in Prayer, sharing all of my thoughts and weaknesses.

    July 18, Friday I thought that while the girl’s cleaned the room today I would sit down at the pool, but being vacation time, the pool has been crowded with a lot of tourists. My other option was to sit in the reception area. Usually it’s fun to watch the people come and go and to decide what Nationality they are, but today the area was visited by an army of flies and mosquitoes. Thank Goodness the girls do a quick job of cleaning the room. The owner of the hotel and his family are coming from Paris on July 22 and staying for a month or more. That means that the staff is trying to get everything in tiptop shape. That includes some workers who are making several large umbrellas out of ironwood and coconut fronds to use around the pool area. Anyhow, when we finally turned off the lights last night they were still hammering away. It lasted all night and was still going on this morning. Needless to say we did not sleep well, even with my ever-ready earplugs. Naturally Jerry complained; they apologized and hopefully I will be able to sleep tonight. The construction is done right under our room. You think they would do this outside and not inside the hotel proper. We had a lovely dinner at our favorite restaurant “La Petite Cour”. It is so French; it reminds us of France and Switzerland without the snow. The food is to die for, plus the restaurant is without roaches and rats. They were having a reception in the main eating area so we sat out on the covered terrace. Surprisingly, the mosquitoes were few in number. Steve brought his computer along and entertained us with short videos of the best commercials. It was a lovely evening with Steve. We will miss him as he is leaving Tuesday, however, he will be back before we leave.
    Construction of umbrellas for around the pool Underside of the umbrella
    Bending the bamboo for the racks to tie the palm fronds onto. Things I am thankful for: 1. For new and old friends 2. For every day that God gives me. 3. For all simple things that God has provided to me, like the fly swatter to be used on the mosquitoes.

    June 19 Saturday Jerry had to work again this Saturday. I really do not mind as this counts as comp time, which he accumulates. This means that he can take a day off here and there and still be paid for it. Jerry has been having trouble with his neck and having muscle spasms. It’s hard for him to turn his head all the way without it hurting. I’m hoping it isn’t trouble with his vertebras again, like he had when we were in Kwajalein. After lunch, Jerry rested for an hour and then went back to the power plant. He didn’t get back to the hotel until after 7:00 PM. I was worried because he was hurting so bad when he left. He was late because the new engine had ruptured
    a cooling system pipe. They had to repair it to get the engine back on line as quickly as possible, as they are really short of power in Majunga. It is almost like Guam when we first arrived there. There are power outages every day, fortunately, the hotel has it’s own generator. Vonjy, a man from the Cat Dealership in Antananarivo was here in Majunga for a few days to see how the progress on the engine was going. He was very pleased of the progress on the engine. He also mentioned that he would send a Cat watch to him which Jerry needs desperately as his watch went kaput. Vonjy left Friday afternoon as he had a wedding that he had to attend on Saturday. A marriage in a Malagasy society is like comparing it to an agreement; if there is not harmony, each goes their own way. I will explain more tomorrow as it is getting late here and I am going to bed. Things I am thankful for: 1. When I am discouraged, God keeps encouraging me. 2. That I might have everything, but own nothing. God owns it all. 3. That I can let go and let God.


  4. Nice and usefull post, thanks, this is one for my bookmarks!


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