I felt the first tickling in my stomach as I smelled the salty air sitting in the taxi brousse. It was the first time I having that feeling for å long time, I didn’t even have it when we arrived in Tana two months earlier. But now we were here, in Mahajanga. With the sea. And the fresh salty breeze. Though it was nigh, and dark, it was beautiful. The smell made it beautiful.
After some days at Shalom’s office, sleeping in the bungalow and getting to know Per Ørjan and Guro the time came to go on the boat. This project is mainly for the Muslims here in Madagascar and the villages on the coast with no road connections. The goal is to establish school, “green schools”, that will teach the children how to do some simple agriculture, as well as introducing them to Jesus and Christianity. They also try to make the medical care better by having nurses or doctors staying there. The evangelists in each village visit homes of the inhabitants to pray and talk with them. And this, we were going to be a part of.
We left Saturday night, 6th of December. That night we slept out side on the deck, watching the thousand stars shining above us. It was peaceful and stunning. At four in the morning the rain came and we had to move in. It was much hotter in there but tired as we were we fell asleep again.
The following day was spent on the boat, as we went to the village the furthest away first. Arnhild unfortunately got a bit sick, but we still had a great day seeing dolphins as well right next to the boat! They were there for a long time, at least five, and it was really exciting seeing them so close.
In the first village we started out playing with the children on the beach. They really enjoyed it, though they did not understand much of the song as we played “bro bro brille”. We also visited the evangelist. He lived next to the green school and a well FLM built some years ago. We went with him to visit some people far away from the village with him, Feno and a shepherd (they were on the boat with us). We also taught English at the green school and the pupils were very happy to have us there and we had a really great time.
The next village was much hotter than the first one. We walked through the woods to get to the school and it was really hot. There we taught English as well and played with them. We played “frukt salat” (fruit salad) only with the Malagasy colors and it was so much fun. In the afternoon we were going to play again. When we showed up and the guy who went with us told the children on the beach that we wanted to play with them an old lady sitting close by started yelling and almost all the children ran away. It was clear that she didn’t want us to play with them! The guy who came with us then disappeared and we were left on our own. After a short while he came back and not alone. He had been to the school getting almost all the children and luckily they wanted to play with us! After a round of “bro bro brille”, with most people from the village watching us. When we moved to a more flat place to play “slå på ringen” our audience followed and soon even more people joined to watch, shouting and laughing. It was such a great time but unfortunately I got two huge blisters under my right foot, probably because I was running in the very hot sand. Making a small hole in them to get out the water also resulted in getting much mud in the following morning when the water was low and there was a long distance from the small boat to the beach with water and mud. Almost carried by Feno and Arnhild I finally reached the beach and was able to rinse the open wound. And of course this became the happening of the day and my audience was big. Luckily I brought my “Mac Gyver”-box with me so I had everything I needed to clean it. These wounds made certain other events happen as well, like being carried from the boat and to the other times the water was low by one of the guys on the boat. My dignity is almost gone and I felt really helpless and handicapped. If I only had known the language better I could at least have made some jokes about it. but I don’t and he didn’t speak any English so there was nothing for me to do about the humiliating silence but laugh a bit. The best part was may be still the little stop we had to fill water in another village on the way. Here we had a quick visit to the public school which resulted in a call to a local healer, apparently with a spiritual gift: his spit would heal wounds caused by fire and heat. So after making sure that the skin was whole in the wound and nothing was open, this man started spitting on the sole of my foot. Pretty grouse, and it didn’t help either, but it was a funny experience!
The last village was really beautiful and also the biggest of them all. After visiting the other villages we had gotten quite use to having no other toilet than the nature and that the shower was in side some walls of palm branches. In this village the shower however was different. It was a well in the middle of an open field. Just like Adam and Eve we stood there in the open, feeling the warmth of the sun as we showered. It was pretty special, and really nice actually. Why go skinny dipping when you can skinny shower?! :D
As most of the inhabitants were planting rice we went back to the boat a bit earlier. On our way back the rain came. Just like in Bergen it was a lot of water falling down. Unfortunately we had to go quite far with the little boat to get to Shalom but we’re in Africa and in Africa people show good hospitality. So to escape from the rain we hid under the roof of the outside terrace of a house we passed by. Soon the children living there came and invited us in so I can only imagine the surprise of their mother when she came in and saw to white people and a whole lot of others sitting on the floor talking and enjoying them selves. Though we escaped the worst rain we still got pretty wet on our way back, after yet another perfect day.
I’ve definitely had the best time till now on that boat, those ten days. I really didn’t realize how much I love and missed the sea before I was sitting on the boat, feeling the waves and the fresh breeze. Except from the water dripping down in the beds when the rain fell down I easily could have stayed there for many more days. Even if it was dripping I think I could. I know I could. I’m definitely going to try to get back here some day.
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