Monday, 24 March 2014

“Extracurricular activities”

Our weeks have been very busy, but Sundays were entirely ours to do whatever we please. We’ve gone on several pirogue sails, something that I personally consider one of the highest pleasures of life here. We’d leave in three pirogues from the beach of the village, just a few minutes walk from our huts. Each pirogue would have two Malagasy and three volunteers. There is a small island, Nosy Fasy, about 20-30 minutes sailing from the coast where we’ve been twice. The island is tiny (and I think it even disappears in high tide), someone counted that it takes 45 steps to walk around it (well, at that given moment). Snorkelling is great around it, so we had sandwiches prepared for us and spent two lovely (and very hot) afternoons there, getting a tan, snorkelling, reading and enjoying the high culinary pleasures scrambled egg sandwiches can provide to hungry people. My favourite part was arriving to the island because the colour of the sea surrounding it is just outrageously beautiful and I felt like we are in some sort of paradise. I can’t get enough of the transition between bright turquoise and blue, every time I see it I am just as impressed as excited as on the first occasion.

Another activity we scheduled for a Sunday was a visit to the nearby baobab “forest”. We’d definitely not refer to this as a forest in Europe, but it is true that there were a couple of dozen baobabs in walking distance from one another. They are shorter and more “chubby” than the famous baobabs which are located further up North along the coast. They are impossible to dislike, however, and I just LOVED climbing up on one of them. It has been way too long since I last climbed a tree and this experience demonstrated that I am not ready to leave this habit behind! (And I feel really inspired to try bouldering once I return home in order to reproduce the joy of climbing up somewhere using my muscles). What made this visit even more memorable was the fact that we arrived on zebu-carts. They are the local means of transport and were definitely worth the experience! Pulled by two zebus, we were three passengers on each cart and had a lot of laughs as the zebus wouldnt stop pooing and the way they are encouraged to move faster makes it impossible to avoid receiving some zebu poo...

More recently we had the opportunity to do some cooking. I attended one of two sessions, and learnt how to make samosa with zebu meat (the others are also certified boko-boko cooks. Boko-boko -pronounced a bit like “beaucoup-beaucoup” - is a small, round pastry, either with no filling or with some chocolate filling in the middle. It tastes like a donut and its a real delicacy at any point of any day!).

Our samosa-instructor was the grandmother of the young girl, Papoussi, who comes around regularly (and its this very grandmother who actually makes what Papoussi sells, so we were learning from the very best!). The recepie is very simple, flower, water and salt for the dough, and minced zebu meat with a bit of onion and spices for the filling. The trick is to make the dough as thin as possible, create a triangular “pocket”, fill it up, close it, fry it and ENJOY!

Another food-related highlight of our “extracurricular activities” was going to a nearby Italian restaurant. I was slightly hesitant about this one, thinking I can eat fancy food when I go back home, but eventually my craving for something different won over rational arguments. We took pirogues and sailed a bit south to a hotel run by an Italian couple. We had to clean our feet from the sand before stepping on the veranda- an incredibly weird thing to do around here, but I guess this ritual contributed to the impression of being somewhere fancy. This was around week 4 or 5 I think, so we had been eating rice-beans and fish twice a day for over a month. The cook at Coco Beach is very good and creative, however, it is almost impossible not to get bored of the food even during our short stay here, no matter how he combines the available ingredients.

Bearing this in mind it shouldn’t come as a surprise that we felt in heaven when we were served cold white wine and some “finger food” with pesto. Absolutely divine!!! The menu continued with carbonara (also delicious) and zebu steak with grilled vegetables and mashed potatoes, with red wine. I was so blown away by the starter that nothing could impress me to the same extent afterwards, but it was a wonderful, completely out-of-context lunch, with a lot of medical talk and doctor jokes thanks to the 5 medics around the table.

Last, but not least, I need to mention playing volleyball on the beach below our huts (this is only possible when the tide is low). This is not necessarily a weekend activity, and unfortunately we only discovered it very recently, nevertheless it’s on my “best-of” list. I can’t say that we’d qualify for the Olympics just yet, but there is a faire amount of enthusiasm and we have certainly improved a lot since we’ve started. Running into the ocean after having played for hours in the afternoon sun is yet another thing I will remember with great pleasure.

So, in short, we are working hard and playing hard! I can’t wait to upload the photos to illustrate all these activities! ;-)

No comments:

Post a Comment