Most of the remote villages have no where that one can stay on a rest day very few have rooms to rent that are called “Hotely”. The only place to stay is with a villager, but this does not work at all. Firstly you have to spend most of the evening in chit chat small talk politely earning your bed. The next day by spending the evening with the family, automatically elevates them to a level of status while you are staying with them. This means that you become their prize position and are placed on show for the duration of your stay. A permanent stream of neighbours pouring in to the two roomed mud brick home, sitting down greeting you, then staring and giggling at you for 10 minutes they then move on and so it rolls. Not to mention the mass of children who permanently pear through every crack in the wall, you are not even safe from their little beady eyes in the longdrop, that is if you can build up enough courage to face the war zone of a village “Outhouse”, man oh man it takes courage and the ability to keep your breath for a good few minutes otherwise you come out a broken man.
By staying in villages in this manner there is no time to catch up on the hard work of keeping the project going. Writing blogs, charging equipment and sorting and clearing cameras, getting uploads ready. Plus the great job of doing washing and fixing gear, checking food as well as the meeting to sort out the route for the next week.
What we have found is that every single village no matter how small has a church, normally staffed by nuns, we have been approaching the nuns for accommodation. The best about it is no matter how small the convent is, we can camp next to it and have peace and quiet and no one dares venture close to us in these grounds, the other plus is there is always a well for water and most of the time they will have a small generator that we can charge our gear.
We have also come to learn the extent of the churches involvement in rural Madagascar and the nuns have been really helpful in putting us in touch with families that have kids with clefts. We can now pass on the information to Operation Smile.