From Ellie: Changes in Tulear

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    Thursday 6h December 2007
    Tulear – Chez Lala – still!
    17:00 (UK) / 20:00 (Madagascar)

    I thought today I would write about my reflections on Tulear. I have spent nearly a week here now and a lot of things have changed from 4 years ago. A lot of things still remain the same:

    1. Walking in the street – I had completely forgotten about this but here it is so difficult to just walk down the street. It was the same before. As you walk along ‘Pus pus’ drivers come out of nowhere, people on bike hurtle towards you, men walk into you, small children come and grab your hand and ask for “Cadau! Cadau!”, chickens seem to come out of nowhere and cars seem to be indifferent to you. You really have to be alert. I find it quite exhausting.
    2. Health & Safety – Not taken too seriously here. A health & safety officer would have a field day here; men carrying planks of wood wiith no care in the world, two people on bikes (always for some reason), no specific rules of the road, un-built pavements etc. etc.
    3. Mangos – They were out of season when I was last here. They are so delicious. I have found I prefer them when they are hard then I can eat them like a pealed apple and not make a fool of myself.
    4. Lychees – Again they were out of season when I was here and I had no idea they grew here. They are now my favourite fruit and I am actually addicted to them. We will see if I can make myself sick on them!!
    5. Running – It is very difficult to do this activity here. Despite desperately wanting to I find it takes so much emotional energy to go through the ridicule that I find it exhausting. I can muster ever other day at the moment. When I was last here I must have been less restless…
    6. Flies – I had forgotten about these- there is a lot of them. This is what happens when temperatures rise! We may hate the cool in the UK but at least we have fewer flies.
    7. People lying in the street – In the hotter parts of the day many people lie down with friends to chat in shaded areas. I was watching a couple yesterday wondering whether this would happen in the UK is climate change really became extreme. I figured that no we wouldn’t we’d continue to be productive and turn up the air conditioning – that will keep the economy going! I think I would quite like to try it once though and see what the reaction is.
    8. Western Unions – There are a lot, I mean a very lot of dirty old French men here in Tulear picking up young Malagasy beauties. There is a couple staying next door to me and it really makes my blood boil. There seem to be more this time, which is unfortunate but probably because there are more…
    9. Tourists – a lot more. I was here before the year of the civil war and the year after so tourists were quite a commodity.
    10. Two currencies – Three years ago Madagascar changed from FMG to Ariary by an exact division of 5. In Tana they are used to it. Here in Tulear they still quote FMG. For the first few days this meant I was paying 5 times more it was. And there was me thinking things had got expensive!
    11. Telephones – Everyone has a mobile. 4 years ago no one did. Orange seems to have taken over.
    12. Music – The Malagasy love music – and are great dancers. Music with a bum swinging beat is always playing! The music reflects the seemingly carefree, happy disposition of much of the population.
    13. Living in a hotel – Feels the same, well slightly more comfortable as this time it is just me. On the Oxford expedition 4 years ago we stayed here for a week with 4 of us in one room!!
    14. Mme Lala – of Chez Lala – I think she finally likes me. I think she thinks of me as the silly English girl who can’t speak very good French, but still at least she’s smiling now.