on the plane on our way to Madagascar, I sat and thought about what I just had experienced and everything we had learned at Hald Internasjonale Senter. The teachers had equipped and shaped us as best as they could to make us ready for the experiences we were on our way to have. I was happy that we finally where on our way, but terrified of what was in front of us. I was happy for the girls I had with me, and at the same time terrified that it wouldn’t work out. I was excited to see the country’s nature, culture and food, but at the same time anxious for the sick days in bed. This was some of my expectations and fears I thought about in my 24-hour travel from Bergen, Norway to Antanarivo, Madagascar.
We landed in Tana (Antanarivo) 4. October. The first thing we met was a loaded bus form the plane to the airport building, where we were “scanned” for fever on our way into the security- and visa-check. The airport was small and full of people. I expected the security check to be as strict as in the united states, but it was the total opposite. After a good while in queue we got through with all our luggage. We met our contact person, Miranto, in the heat outside the airport. Miranto has been our absolute safety since the second we met her.
We walked around in Tana with Miranto to fix papers and Malagasy-phones. The streets in Tana is something very different from the streets at home. There is people, children, babies, cows, dogs, chicken, and trash everywhere. People dry their clothes on every open spot, and the sidewalk and highways are the same thing. There is nothing called traffic rules or trespassing. It looked like every family had their own small business of selling something. And when we walked in the streets we could feel all the heads turn and eyes stick to our pale skin and expensive pockets (it did not help that I was at least 20 cm taller than every person who passed me). People were walking everywhere to do their daily routines either with their animals in leash, with baskets on their heads, a baby tied on their back, or running with their pousse-pousse. The streets of Antanarivo were alive to say the least.
We arrived Antsirabe the 6th, barely, the car ride felt more like a roller coaster. Here in Antsirabe we live in an international center where we get language course for the next 3 weeks. The center has previously been a Norwegian school for Norwegian missionary children. Many of the workers here know some words in Norwegian and get so excited when we practice our Malagasy. The center feels safe compared to the busy streets both here in Antsirabe and in Tana.
After we arrived Antsirabe we have gotten to know some of the Norwegian missionaries in Madagascar, we have also tried the market and got to know the hard way that it is important to know Malagasy. We have also experienced over and over again that everyone think we are French. And how hard it is to tell someone we know more Malagasy than French. I now know that bonjour means “Hello” and not “Man”, after a little weird scenario. And on our first trip to a restaurant in Antsirabe we learned that “big soda” really means “BIG soda”.
For the next 6 months I expect many more misunderstandings. I expect to learn more Malagasy so that I can get mango for the right price. I expect to meet more people and get to know the culture better. I expect to meet difficulties in my faith when I see how little some people have, and I expect to strengthen my faith when I see how much people trust God in their daily issues.