I am Ruth, a 34 year old English woman. I came to Antsiranana (Diego-Suarez) in Northern Madagascar in April 2005. I was a single woman taking a career break from my internet roles.
Over 2 years later I am still here, now living with my Malagasy fisherman boyfriend (Jean) and our baby son (Fred, born March 2007).
Living between Britain and Madagascar – geographically and culturally – has me in a constant whirl of emotions and questions.
This blog contains:
- my observations of life in Northern Madagascar
- my experiences of cultural adjustment
- what I’m learning about my own Britishness as a result of living here.
What information can be found on this site?
Mainly people and culture
I tend to write about what effects me directly (this is a blog after all) and so this site is mainly about people and culture.
Information in Madagascar is hard to get your hands on (in any language but especially in English). And information on modern people and culture is especially difficult.
What about lemurs?
Most foreigners who know anything about Madagascar know about its amazing fauna and flora (amazing because most of its unique).
However, lemurs, chameleons or baobabs (much as I love ‘em) will only be discussed when they directly effect me (such as when the lemur urinated in my lemon and honey drink when I was ill – they didn’t seem so cute then).
What information is published on Malagasy culture tends to be anthropological insights into the more fascinating and distinct aspects of life, such as ceremonies relating to death.
These rich elements of Malagasy culture run very deep and influence all sorts of other aspects of life.
However, these publications won’t help you learn that nobody will respect you if your shoes aren’t clean, that it is polite to look disinterested when somebody is speaking to you or what to do with the collection of equipment you may (or may not) be presented with when you ask to use the toilet (see post Culture ain’t just about rice).
Tracking down Madagascar information
One great benefit from the big life change I have made is that it has rekindled an inquisitiveness in me that had been in decline for many years. I am exposed to huge differences in wealth, culture and the natural environment. This has forced me to ask lots of questions and to hunt down information to help me make sense of what I see.
I will direct readers to any good information I find about Madagascar or related topics. I hope that this blog-site will end up a useful, or at least interesting, resource about Malagasy life.
I still rely heavily on the usual font of information, the internet, but connection speed here can be painfully slow (in a way that the broadband generation will never appreciate). So, please be especially appreciative when I’ve included a link – it was surely harder to visit than you might realise.
But, if nothing else, it will chart some of the bizarre sequence of experiences that I now call my own life.