This is just my second full day at my site and we leave tomorrow morning to head back (I get less time at my site than anyone but get back later than all except my traveling companion) but I think I have a pretty good feel for the place. We've spent a lot of time visiting different officials and school people to introduce me to them as well as seeing the different parts of the town, checking on prices for furniture here, etc., but we also took a drive affording (and um, onroading here is like offroading in the US) to look for the biggest baobab tree in this part of the country which was a lot of fun. We even picked up random locals on the way there n back.
My town is really nice and it's just beautiful. The weather is gorgeous right now and everything is sand and palm trees and there's fresh seafood all the time, so I think I'll be happy here. I visited my house too. They're still working on it, but it's really nice. AND I HAVE RUNNING WATER!! And a toilet!!!! You can't imagine how excited I am if you've never been without that sort of thing, but trust me, it's pretty great.
Right now I can think of just two downsides to the place itself. One is the language... I'm learning standard Malagasy but the dialect spoken here is completely different, even for words for basic stuff. So basically I'll be learning vocabulary all over again my first few months here. At least I'll be able to talk to people (they should understand Standard, even if they don't use it). The other is the road. Driving from the nearest major town to my site is more or less an offroading experience as I said, even though it is considered a "main" road on the map. The actual distance is around 250km, which by car in the states would take around 2.5 hrs to traverse. Here, the PC vehicle (4 wheel drive, no stops) takes 8 hrs to make it down. The taxi brouse aka public bus, which is what I would have to take to get to the nearest large town any time after this, stops frequently to load and unload and thus takes a full 24 hrs to get there. And that's during the dry season. During the rainy season the road becomes impassable (there's actually a stream flowing through the road at one point, it's only a couple feet now but then again there's no rain now...) So luckily there is an airport that goes to that neighboring large town and then elsewhere from there, but there are only flights two times a week. With a set teaching schedule I won't be able to wait and fly both ways because I'd miss half a week of class. So transportation is still not completely figured out for me getting down to my banking town. It's not completely necessary that I go every month, but there's not even phone service here so to be able to contact people from home at all I have to get down there. And there is a lot more stuff there (supplies/food) so it would be nice to be able to stock up on necessities once a month.
But it's alright, everything will work itself out if it needs to... I say it that way because (now don't get your hopes up) I have actually been seriously considering coming home for a handful of reasons which I'll explain later if necessary. I'm giving myself till the end of training (~3 weeks) to decide, so probably around the time you see this letter I'll either already be home or I won't be coming for at least a year (If I start the school year I'll finish at least that much). Just keepin ya on your toes...