Settling in ups and downs

A relaxed English morning
I wake just before 6am to feed Fred. Jean is up and about to leave for his driving practical test.

The morning is spent in surreal suspended reality with BBC world on for two hours 8-10am and the place to myself. The charms of the apartment are definitely outstripping the negatives and I’m delighted with our (my) decision to get our (my) own place. I go back to sleep next to Fred for yet more lovely sleep.

Jean is out till 1.30pm leaving me time to look after Fred, to unpack, to enjoy my morning ablutions free from prying eyes and convert music files on my new laptop. I even sit down to read at one point. Despite my concerns about being here, it feels like I might just have a relaxing time and as if this is real life starting after the limbo of the time in England.

A unsettled baby afternoon
Fred is unsettled and fractious all day, my best guess being the heat because he seems to calm down when stripped off and when outside with a breeze. It makes the afternoon particularly unpleasant with Jean impotent to help and us being unable to do anything except keep him calm. Sleeping seems especially difficult for Fred during day which is just like many people when in hot countries for the first time.

A depressed evening
Fred finally fell into a deep afternoon sleep at around 5pm in his buggy. Jean was concerned about mozzies but, with the fan on, I thought it was OK. But suddenly everything went black. A power cut. We thought we were by the hospital so we couldn’t have a power cut.

By the light on my mobile phone we found a candle and, with a bit of effort, put the sun/bug mesh onto the buggy. Fred slept right through the whole thing and looked snug all wrapped up in his darth vader –esque vehicle.

Once he woke up, he was fractious again for the next hour. Sadly, we had to put him in a full baby-gro to protect him from mozzies, which he hates in the heat.

We took Fred outside, sharing the lack of light with our neighbours also outside. Does it matter that my baby is screaming? Doubt it – Malagasys are very tolerant of noise, not realising that right to peace and quiet is considered sacrosanct in my homeland. Fred was somewhat calmed by the passing wobbly beams of yellow light as the taxis rattled past.

The darkness of the power cut burdened the hearts in the house. Jean is annoyed that he is paying good money for a flat with power cuts when he has a house for free not far away with the power still on.

Thankfully Fred went to sleep relatively easily. Jean and I had a depressed supper of boiled eggs, chorizo that I brought from England and bread. Sleep did not come easily and I lay in the blackness listening to the sound of a room filled with mosquitoes. We under our badly fitting mosquito net and Fred in his travel cot cocoon. I resent Madagascar for not allowing me to see and touch my darling son from my bed. I resent Madagascar. I shed a tear and push Jean’s hot heavy body gently away.

Night time calm
At 11pm I awake still in darkness and listen to the mosquitoes and Fred stirring. When I realise Fred is not waking up but I am not sleeping I get up – just to escape from the claustrophobia of the mosquito net. By candlelight I start tapping away at my laptop on battery power, writing an account of my stay in Madagascar so far and planning future writing.

The power came back on at midnight. My mood quickly lifted as the fan blew the mozzies away and light allowed me to move freely. I could charge my phone (so having emergency light) and charge this laptop.

Say what you will about development, all hail electricity.


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