Volunteering in Madagascar? Read Kat's blog!

25/09 2015  Madagascar

Kat is a lovely girl from Australia who spent her few weeks volunteering in Madagascar. She writes her own travel blog which might be very usefull if you are planning to volunteer at our project here.

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Her blog is http://catnapsintransit.com

And what we recommnend is mainly the article about her experience with local market. Have a read - and if you want to see more pictures and more posts check out her blog!

To market, to market to buy a fat pig… Or maybe just have someone push past you and rub a dead one against you…

…Home again, home again, dancing a jig… Or just walking for two hours in the heat lugging a weeks worth of vegetables home…

Market day in Mahitsy wasn’t quite as glamorous and jolly as Mother Goose led me to believe as a child…

During my time volunteering in Madagascar, Saturday was the most important day of the week. Saturday was market day. The day I would dedicate to a one and a half hour 8km walk into town to stock up on food and then lug it all home.

Grocery shopping was no longer a simple drive to Woolworths and a quick stroll through the aisles before returning home in a swift half hour expedition. There were no friendly checkout chicks to bag up my watermelon next to my sweet potato, no self-service checkout to save me the effort of interacting with a human being, no neatly labelled prices to make budgeting a breeze…

There was just me, the market and a whole lot of craziness.

I must admit my first visit to Mahisty was nothing short of overwhelming. After the long walk in the sun I was already exhausted and upon entering the crowded aisles of food, clothes and an eclectic mix of paraphernalia I felt instantly inundated .

My lack of Malagasy and my minimal French didn’t help much either…

But I was on a mission. I knew that this was my one opportunity to stock up for the week and I wasn’t going to leave empty handed.

With the assistance of another volunteer, Maya, who had managed to grasp the Malagasy numerical system I was able to stock up on vegetables and fruit that might give me enough fuel to survive another week in Ambohitrakely.

I watched the local stall-owners and vendors use scales and different sized bricks and rocks to weigh my bananas, I held my breath as we passed through the lanes of slaughter and I breathed a sigh of relief when I found the pineapples.

Pushing my way through the crowds I managed to survive my first market experience without breaking down in tears… (I must admit, for a split-second I almost did)

The walk home felt much longer than the walk to town but after about two hours from leaving the markets I was home, sweaty, exhausted but stocked up with fresh goodies.

My future market days featured a much more confident version of myself. I was prepared for the craziness and managed to use my minimal French to work out prices and quantities.

Besides a few encounters of fresh meat being thrown against me and hitting my head on the low make-shift roofing of the stalls, market day became a fun expedition. A shopping trip with much more excitement than your typical ‘day at the mall’.

I became used to seeing locals transporting 30 chickens tied over their shoulders – still alive – while carrying a boxful of ducks on the back of their bike, I would say hello to the women carrying heavy loads on their heads with absolute ease while I struggled to carry my plastic bags home and I was no longer shocked to see the men dragging immensely stacked carts for kilometres – with bare feet.

Even though there were times when I missed the convenience and organisation of Woolworths – grocery shopping had become an adventure. A weekly challenge where I was always bound to witness something crazy.