Thursday, May 19, 2011

New blog site

I want to share more photos and videos, so I am giving tumblr a try.

The url is:

See you there :)

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Belated Blogiversary

May 13th was the one year anniversary of my first blog! And, on May 13th, I forgot that it was the one year anniversary of my first blog. I certainly didn't mean to blog for a whole year. In fact, I intended to blog for 79 days (, as at the time, it was 79 days before I left for Madagascar. I knew that I wouldn't have super regular internet access after I left, and figured that I should make the most of my high-speed connection- not to mention electricity.

It is sort of apropo that I forgot my blogiversary, given that I can't even remember the date of my wedding anniversary. I realize that I should know my wedding anniversary, but the date just never stuck with me. Its a bum date. It was either the 5th or the 6th day in either the 5th or the 6th month in 2005. I KNOW that for sure, 2005. I should at least get some props for that, right?

Anyhow, I think Ron and I should get married again, and forget the first one all together. Not like I want a wedding where people have to come and give gifts and all, because I know what a pain in the ass that is, and it seems tacky. Plus, I would rather go to the beach or farmer's market, rather than spend an entire day getting re-married. What a hassle that would be.

What then shall the re-wedding date be? Obviously, it needs to be a date I can easily remember. And where? Vegas seems like the obvious choice. Except that I hate Vegas. There are dirty underware in the street for "God's" sake. Hmm. Food for thought. Oh, even though it won't be a wedding wedding I most certainly do want a wedding cake. For the life of me, I can't find a picture of Ron and my wedding cake, but here is one of an adorable frog in Costa Rica.

Night all!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Ideas needed!

Do you remember a funny/interesting story about me or that happend with me? Remind me and I will write it up. Maybe today!

Though I am thrilled to be home (if not for the flushing toilets alone), I do miss my lemurs. My favorite photos are action shots, especially those of lemurs playing. So, I figured I'd share a few. If you were unaware, you can double click the photos on my blog to view them in a larger size. FYI.

This might be my favorite lemur pic- Tido mid jump.

Another lemur zombie.

And some play.

BTW- the universal signs that you want to play (in lemur, of course) are to either a) roll on your head, or b) bite some one else's bum.

Here is a good headroll.

I can't find a bum bite shot, but here is a leg bite.

And some more play.

And a bit more. This could double as a lemur zombie.

And here is one of a lemur just cruising along looking goofy.

Maybe I could stuff Kitty into a lemur suit.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Goat Party

In celebration of the end of my research, I decided to have a small party in Efotse for the people who I've come to know during my time at TNP. The guest list included: Lanto, Bakira, Francia, Fiti, Stephan, Olivier, Lauren, Francisco, Henu, Jacky, driver of Jacky, and some of the other MNP dudes whose names escape me right now. Francia and Stephan were in Toliara and didn't make it back in time, so we invited the village "presidents" instead. I figured dinner and beer would be a good way to celebrate. Gino was available and willing to host us. Francisco kindly helped organize. People seemed to like goat, so I asked for goat and rice, and Gino (Gino owns the only venue in town) said he could also get fish and potatoes. I don't really like to have something different than everyone else, but fresh fish and chips were simply too tempting to pass up. Francisco said no to rice, which I thought was quite odd given that "rice is life" and people eat unbelievable portions (like 10 cups!) with every meal. He said that people could go home to have rice if they wanted it. Ok. So the menu was goat, fish, chips, and beer. Ok.
Efotse- the cutie in the front is Valentine

In the time between planning the Goat Party and the actual Goat Party, I was told many times how big and strong the doomed goat was. I guess that is a good thing. You can buy a goat for 12000Ar ($6) but my goat cost 45000Ar ($22.50), so it must be huge! I have no idea why such a monstrous goat was necessary, given that 15 people were invited and two of them (Meghan and I) don't eat goat. Also, quite a hype got going surrounding the party. Gino was taking a trip to Toliara and was going to get the parts to fix his a) generator and b) refrigerator. That, my friends, means we would not only get music playing, but -hold the line- COLD beer. F*&! me!

Chez Gino

Upon arrival at the Goat Party, we sat very awkwardly at Gino's waiting for everyone to arrive. I don't know why it was so awkward- probably because I was there. Sadly, Gino didn't make it back from Toliara and thus we had no electricity, cold beer, or potatoes. Also, there was a problem with the fish. People from Toliara south were dropping dead from some type of toxin (or poison) in the fish they were eating and there was a government imposed ban on fishing. Yipes. No problem- we still had beer and goat!

Chez Gino's kitchen

Jacky, always the politician, made a speech about why we were having a goat party and the future of research at TNP. He then sprung a speech on me. Luckily, I didn't pull a "Salama" like I did in '08. I just said thanks to everyone and that I would be back. After that we commenced drinking and Jacky got some music playing, via the car stereo. Next, the goat was brought out- cooked and in one piece. Meghan and I were served a chicken. One goat and one chicken for 15 people. Crazy. It was fine though- everyone could take meat home and knew that it would not go to waste.

The goat was placed on a side table and the hacking began. There are never any proper utensils but someone had a machete type knife, which did the trick. The goat was essentially quartered and then placed on the table for everyone to pick at. It was charred on the outside, but practically raw in the middle. However, once the outside layer was eaten, the limb or piece would be chucked back on the fire for a few minutes and then that part
would be eaten. I learned that this goat was not "food." When you want to have a few cocktails, you don't want to fill up to much. So instead of eating dinner with beer, you have goat, which is just a snack. Hence why there is no rice involved. Yet, get this, the whole goat was GONE in about 30 minutes. Can you even imagine? I still can't believe it. Good thing it was only a snack.

Some goat hacking

A goat limb and a beer

After the goat, the chicken dancing began. Men in southern Madagascar have this particular way of dancing that looks very much like a chicken scratching up the ground. Francisco was especially keen on dancing and wanted me to take his photo and/or video several times. Jacky, Fiti and one of the MNP dudes were also dancing chicken-style and I was laughing my ass off. Olivier, who I think started on the toka gash early, was super annoying and kept telling me how sorry he was for everything from my leaving to his being alive. Finally, I got suckered into doing some chicken dancing myself. OMG, right? It was fun though- you just follow whomever is in front of you, stick out your but, shrug your shoulders, and go around in a circle shuffling your feet.

The night progressed. The village presidents had to leave to watch a movie on STDs. Huh. I sat on a cactus paddle while trying to go pee and had to get Meghan to pull the hairs/thorns off of my butt. Then, quite suddenly at around 8pm the guys started to get really drunk. Stupid annoying drunk- so off I went! The perfect exit and a good end to my village life.

Friday, May 6, 2011


Today, I am going to share some quotes. Here they are:

"One cestode is good for digestion!"
~ Jacky, on tape worm(s).

"No, no. Galidictis is not an eater of man."
~ Olivier, on sleeping outside and being bothered by The Bastards.

"You are not going to get the Plague. The Plague is ridiculous. Plus, its only in the south."
~ Marni, on Bronwyn and the Plague.

"I can't find my egg-in-a-bag."
~ Meghan on not being able to find her egg-in-a-bag.

"You are like some sort of twisted super hero."
~ Meghan, on my heightened ability to smell dead things.

"Peut-être cyclone."
~ Bakira, on whether or not it was going to rain.

"How can you have so many emails to respond to. You don't have a job. What are you writing,

Dear Kraft,
That shit is cheesier.
~ Ron, on my responding to email messages.

"You are as much fun as a bag of AIDS."
~ Ron on my morose tone in Madagascar.

"Mono is a gateway STD."
~ Ron, on my having Mononucleosis."

And here is a pic of the adorable baby bird that lived in a nest above my work/nap place at Tsimanampetsotsa.

Happy Friday!

Thursday, May 5, 2011


I've officially started to settle in and am quickly getting back to old routines. Yesterday I spent $200 on my hair and $7.50 on two cupcakes. Sounds about right. I also drove for the first time since August- I thought it would be a bit more of a momentous event, but I barely even remembered I was driving. I did remember to stop in the correct places and got pretty riled up when someone nearly backed into me. Sounds about right.

Anyhow, before I left the house yesterday, I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror and made a mental note of what a moose I was/am. Which got me thinking about weight and body image and how they are thought of culturally both here and elsewhere...

I distinctly remember being 10 years old and thinking I needed to go on a diet. I wasn't over-weight, but was never really stick thin either. In fact, my weight was irrelevant, which is what I realized yesterday. I am pretty sure I have thought of myself as fat since that day when I was 10.

As an adult, I've weighed 115 lbs and I've weighed 162 lbs (OMG) and everywhere in between, a few times. Really, I just want to be a stable "normal" or "healthy" weight all the time, but that is hard when you go off to places like Madagascar and can't help but lose weight, or if when you are at home you have a habit of eating cake straight from the refrigerator at 2am when you are 3/4s asleep.

Right now I am a "normal" 126 lbs, which is about right for me, so why do I tell myself that I am fat? I don't know but I think that I am not alone on this. I *think* that this is all too common in women, and men, in my/our society. In Madagascar though, it’s completely different. Carrying extra weight is a sign of prosperity and people think you are healthy and doing well if you are a bit chubby. 'Fat' there is not the four-letter-word that it is here.

Before I left for Madagascar, I gained 15 lbs on purpose. You never want to go to the field too thin. I am already hungry all the time and if I didn't have a few pounds to burn, I'd be completely miserable inside a month. Slowly but surely the pounds disappear and then one day one of the park staff asked if I was well. I said, not really, and he commented on how big I had been when I arrived. His implication was that I was big and healthy (a good thing) before, but that I was getting kind of scrawny and sickly (not a good thing). Or, also shortly before I left I was having a conversation with my camp cook and guard about when I would next be back. The commented that they'd look forward to seeing me, and with a touch of envy noted how fat I would be having come from America. I was like "no no I won't be fat!" But they insisted that I would be and what a shame it would be to lose all my fat chasing lemurs.

What a completely different take. I can understand why- in an area where people really do starve to death (not like how I 'starve to death' when my order takes too long') a bit of a fat buffer is highly advisable. But here, what on earth makes a 10 year old who isn't overweight think she is? For this, I don't have an answer.

What I do have is my favorite cupcake of all time! Sprinkles puts out the 'Choco loco' annually, for Cinco de Mayo. There is one in my fridge. Drool... Check it out:

Tuesday, May 3, 2011


I have oodles of stories from Madagascar to share, but they kinda feel like old news now. Meh. Cows this, spear that. Right now the most exciting thing to me is Quinoa Salad. OMG it is so good that I must share the recipe and you must make it! If I could, I would make it for you, just to be sure you'd understand how good it is, and then you'd be sure to make it yourself. The original recipe is out of the Rebar cookbook. Mmm, Rebar.

3 ears fresh corn on the cob, cooked, cut off the cob, and chilled
1 cup raw quinoa, cooked, and chilled
1 jalapeño pepper, diced
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1 bunch fresh cilantro, minced
1 bunch green onions, minced
juice of 1 fresh lemon
juice of 2 fresh limes
salt and pepper to taste

I cook the corn and quinoa the day before and then put it in the fridge overnight. For the quinoa, bring two cups of water to a boil, add the quinoa and turn the heat down to medium-low. Simmer for 10-12 minutes or until dry and tender. In a large pot, add the corn to boiling water and cook for 10 min.

Mix all ingredients and sit in the fridge for 30 minutes, if you can.

Trust me, it’s awesome.

Monday, May 2, 2011


Well, I am finally home. Its really weird. Good, but weird. I can't quite recall how to behave appropriately in some everyday situations. For example, I went to Starbucks (wonderful wonderful Starbucks), ordered a drink, thanked the staff, and went to wait for my drink. The problem? I didn't pay. I didn't even think to pay. Hmm. Also, I am completely aghasted at the prices. Once you are used to paying 5 cents for a coffee, 4 dollars is insane. Maybe that is why I 'forgot' to pay! Hmm. Another pesky new habit is tearing up upon entering a grocery store. I just can't get over all the fresh produce. I feel all emotional about how privileged I am and then get overwhelmed with the seemingly insurmountable number of decisions to be made. Seriously, how many types of lettuce does one store need?

I tried to go shopping for some new clothes, but again, just think everything is too expensive. Once, when I was a kid, my dad nearly climbed through the McDonald's drive through window at a poor acne ridden teen-ager, because he simply couldn't believe the price of an orange juice. I nearly turned into my father this morning at the mall. Seriously, Anthropologie, $228 for a beach dress? Don't get too worried though. I did manage to cough up $6 for 80g of chocolate (Chuao, Spicy Maya. FYI), and its worth every penny.

A few things are new- I now have a Sprinkles in my neighborhood. How exciting! Girls are wearing really tiny jean shorts and NOT doing up the fly. On purpose. It looks completely ridiculous. Ron has taken to cutting his own hair. Well, most of it anyhow. No one can see the back of their head, right? Oh, and every time I turn around this double dream hands dude is on. What's with that?

My only news is that I have to provide LabCorp with 'stool' samples from now until eternity, upon the request of my doctor. I have a plethora of biohazard bags filled with these scary little tubes and their built in spoons. OMG.

On that note, check out my very first YouTube post: