BV has recently introduced the opportunity of ‘village stays’ for our volunteers. A report from Lucy Ferguson highlights the joys of life in a vezo community:

The home stay was hilarious! They picked me up after breakfast last Saturday and I set off on the pirogue with what later became known as my three body guards. They were three burly Malagasy boys who went pretty much everywhere with me for the following 48 hours.

The wind was strong on the way there and they sat me out on the outrigger of the pirogue for ballast – an hour later after my arms has turned white from holding on for grim death we arrived at my new home – Nosy Mitata (Nosy meaning island). There to greet me were the family, about 15 of them (which was a large proportion of the island when you consider in has a population of about 60), with grandparents, parents, and a gaggle of children and babies. Little did I realise how much entertainment I was going to provide for the following couple of days.

I was ushered into their hut, with a select audience (the rest of the family has to peer through the door of the window) and was presented with a cup of tea and a saucer. On cue I made my first mistake – I put the cup on the saucer. Vigorous laughter ensued and when when it finally subsided I was shown that the correct thing was to pour the boiling tea into the saucer and drink it from there as a means of cooling it. Not an easy task.

After tea I was kitted up with mask fins and spear and sent out in the pirogue with my three body guards to catch our tea. I personally didn’t catch anything (in fact had I tried it was likely that me, one of the body guards or a coral would have sustained serious injury) but they caught quite a few, included parrot fish, trigger fish, stripped bristle teeth, black spotted sweetlips, etc. (If you hadn’t guessed I am now fish enabled and collected data from my first fish belt last week).

After fishing we went back and I was sat in the hut with food. After about 30 minutes of waiting for the rest of the family to join me I realised that I was to be eating alone and tucked in. The meal times proceeded to be fairly strange – at dinner i was ushered into the hut once again but this time with Nahoda (the head of the household) and we ate alone together. I was very happy when the next day I actually graduated to eating with the entire family! The evening was passed with dancing and togagash (a lethal, and I think maybe illegal Malagasy home brew) and a considerable amount of laughing at my expense (I thought that it may have scarred me for life but a couple of epi-bar trips and my dancing confidence seems to have resumed to normal).

I was glad to returned to Andava but it was absolutely hilarious and well worth doing!

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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