Minor annoyances of Madagascar

Munched linen dressCloth eating bugs

Sorted through a bag of clothes I’d left here yesterday, to discover that they too had been decimated by some clothes eating bugs.

I’ve no idea what they are so I attach a photo so that someone can tell me. Whatever they are I watched with smug satisfaction as the ants cleared away dozens of them in less than 3 minutes – ant Christmas apparently.

Luckily the orange dress that they were most partial to was one I got made whilst recovering from Chikungunya (type of Dengue Fever) so it was much too small. Especially as I got pregnant a month later and, unlike Malagasy mothers, gained some pounds (see post You are so fat).

Cloth bugs and ant

Power cuts

It’s been a bad week for power cuts. Saturday evening we lost power at 6pm for the next 13 hours. Sunday it cut at 7am for the next 25 hours. Last night we lost it at 6pm and it’s still not back on at 7.15 the next morning.

And the internet café was off yesterday at different times when I went up there so I had 2 wasted trips.

I don’t suffer too badly because of my laptop which has a decent battery and contains my music, films, games and writing. And we go to bed here so early (mixture of having a baby and natural rhythm with darkness) that the lack of light isn’t a disaster. However, I don’t like waking to breastfeed a baby in mosquito filled darkness.

Flip flop wounds

Two days ago I was delighted to get a rare chance to walk somewhere without my son but disappointed to get blisters on the top of both feet from my supposedly sensible flip flops (thongs to Americans).

Being the tropics, both of these minor afflictions are now infected and oozing puss and blood. Out comes the betadine (iodine). I was told it is best to dilute iodine rather than use it neat otherwise it kills all the white blood cells trying to fight the infection. Not sure that science is correct but less is more was the conclusion.

[Note (added November 2007) it took 2 months for these wounds to heal and have left sensitive ‘stains’ on both feet so I still have to be careful with shoes that touch the affected areas.]


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.