Agent Hippy reporting in


so the land of lemur fits me like a corset made of leaves; I
love it here.

spent the last month living deep in the jungle, surrounded by trees &
creatures, getting up at 5am every day to go and work my little hippy
ass off to help make the bit of forest that has been my home a
protected area.

this involves lots of running after snakes and grabbing them by the
tail then whooping lots (there are boas here bigger than me, almost),
using nets to skip through thorny bushes to catch massive gaudy
butterflies then gentlygently holding them so they wont fly away
whilst trying to match them to far less colourful scientific ID
plates, sneaking up on geckos (not easy, damnfast psychogreen or
really camo~lizards), grabbing techinicolour chameleons by the head
(they bite REALLY hard, and obviously swively eyes mean they can see
you coming from all sides), watching lemurs swing through mango trees
and so so wishing i had a tail, crawling through echoey dark drippy
stalagtitey caves full of shells (seashells, at the top of a
mountain...) ducking rapidly to avoid kamikaze rabid bats, poking
around in bucket traps to fish out all manner of night beasties like
scorpions, tarantulas, skinks (wierd slippery lizards) and the
hedgehog tenrecs ( like a hedgehog, but not...), spying on
psychadelically coloured birds, or watching giant harrier hawks
sweeping over huge cliffs, the insects are plentiful beyond belief ,
crickets so noisy it feels like yr eardrums are about to bleed,
halfmetre long red milipedes neon turquoise stick insects 8inches long
with bright orange mini wings... mosquitoes that think i am the
tastiest thing ever, oh and far too many wasps... got stung on both
cheeks & all over one arm =almost passed out from pain, face swelled
up & my arm went dead for 2hours!  almost all the plants look
perfectly innocent but are covered in thorns or sting muchworse than
nettles, on the plus side almost all the flowers this season are

we have also been GPS mapping the edges of mountain jungleyforest =
really depressing work as so much of it is burnt for charcoal, farmed
or grazed by zebu (like cows but more rich colours and with big humps
an horns), the locals we have been working with tell us that this has
all happened over only the last 10 years. so the forest is rapidly
diminishing, you can be having to machete through deep growth and
tarzan style vines ( really twisty ones that i have been happily
swinging on...) then suddenly come into a scorched open clearing,
where the soil is exposed = madagascan soil is the most incredible red
colour - kindof like bricks  but more edible if that makes sense! =
the monsoon rains just wash it all away, and there is  no sign of any
tree replanting, even if there was the ecosystems that have taken so
long to build up  have gone. so many of the things we have been
studying are endemic not only to madagascar but just to this one
mountain = one really cool stripey snake has only been found 3 times (
once by us!) and exists no where else in the whole world, it hasnt
even been named yet.

have learnt that you cant eat all things that look like courgettes,
but that making bread in an oven made out of a hole in the ground
filled with rocks is indeed possible.  it is currently papaya season,
which involves shaking the trees till they fall down, hee hee... local
diet is rice n beans, which can get a bit monotonous so have been
supplementing with sick quantities of darkestdark chocolate  = will
try to bring some back for you guys...

have spent the last couple of days in diego-suarez (also called
antisiranana) trying to sort out supplies  for my teaching placement.
no-one seems to know much about it, except that all the villagers only
speak malagasy, the village is by the sea (whoop whoop!) and i
hopfully have 'a hut' to live in (no-one has seen aforementioned hut).
 i have had a couple of malagasy lessons which just made me realise
how much i dont know (smiling and pointing is my plan). it is a
beautiful language to listen to though, fits in very well with the
laidback attitude of the people, intimidating when written as the
words all runinto each other, lots of repetition, eg. 'dala' means
diferent 'daladala' means crazy (or differentdifferent =  cool huh?
but have been warned it also means misogynist and indiscreet and  so
shouldnt be used to refer to women...), sugar is 'siramamy' which is a
combination of the words for sweet and salt...  rather amusingly
malagasy dictionaries are completely useless here as in the north the
words and dialect are different from the nationally spoken language
(so am learning to speak with a northern accent = heehee!)

although us vazha (white foreigners = you get that word shouted at you
in a friendly way where-ever you go) have only been in diego briefly i
can joyfully report that the rum is well cheap, far too strong, and
really tasty. also the local clubs are open till 7am and play a
bizarre mix of crap western music and amazing bootyshaking malagasy
ragga: reggae  : african style tunes which i have been scouring the
markets for so hopefully will return with some dodgy but fantastic


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Posted on Friday, May 19, 2006 at 20:15 by Registered CommenterJam in | CommentsPost a Comment