Every expedition we take our new crop of volunteers into one of the village ‘epi-bars’ to meet the nahudas – the village elders. We introduce ourselves to them and then shake our tushes on the dancefloor to some Malagasy music afterwards. It’s usually a really positive exchange. They get a free drink and the amusement of watching us on the dancefloor, the village children get to gawp at us all through the windows and our volunteers get to hear first hand from the villagers, the positive effect that BV has had and is having on the village and local community.

Until now, we haven’t met the women of the village in the same official way. It’s a shame, I think, as it’s the women of the community that we tend to interact with a lot more throughout the course of each expedition. It’s from the women that we buy mangos (season over now though), peanuts and samosas. We also use their services – through a middle-woman called Vivien – to do our washing, and the women are out and about saying hi to us when we walk through the village.

This expedition however has started to see a change in the old ‘tradition’ of just meeting the men. One of the women – the head of the women’s association – came along to the meeting in the epi-bar earlier in the week. And then, through Daniel (one of our Malagasy staff), the women’s association sent a message to us inviting us to a special lunch so that we could meet them and say hello. We trooped down to the primary school at 1pm on Sunday – our day off. First of all, the women performed a few dances and songs. They sang beautifully and in harmony, and also, apparently were quite funny as a couple of the songs had our Malagasy staff laughing and clapping along.

Daniel also became a temporary woman and joined them for a couple of songs – he just couldn’t resist singing along. Afterwards, we sat on small wooden benches in the schoolroom and ate goat, rice and a bean dish (I didn’t eat goat, I got an omelette). Then, they thanked us for coming, presented Al (one of my bosses from London who is here for a few days) with a birthday present and I thanked them for the food and the dancing. They said that they hoped that each expedition they could put on such a meal, and I agreed that it was a great idea and I hoped so too.

So, that’s been the main event this week. The other exciting event was Al’s arrival, bringing gifts from home including an array of newspapers. The most exciting of which was the Sun which has very little news at all, and therefore does not ignite an episode of depression about the state of the world.

It is very hot now, and there is still (just about) grass on the football pitch. Andavadoaka played Lamboara on Sunday afternoon and lost. I could barely sit outside and not move in that heat and humidity, let alone run around a dusty pitch after a football. Oh! And Nick (American volunteer, keen on lizards and reptiles) brought in a ground boa to the restaurant last night just before dinner. The wet brings all the reptiles out apparently.

Ruth (Exp Manager)

Posted by Blue Ventures

Blue Ventures is an award winning marine conservation charity. We rebuild tropical fisheries with coastal communities. On our Beyond Conservation blog you can hear voices from the front line of marine conservation written by our staff and volunteers.

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