Many of you know that Caite and I were going to cook lunch for the families of Dr. Hary and Dr. Edwige (the two doctors she works with) using a stove with only 2 burners, no oven and no refrigerator. I was very worried about being able to cook all the food on 2 burners, however, I soon realized that the important thing is that the food was cooked, not that it was hot. The much anticipated meal for 10 turned into a meal for 14. We made rice for 20, brought 36 tortillas, refried beans and ground beef with taco seasoning to feed an army. When we arrived at Dr. Edwige’s home to serve the meal, she had also made a huge pot of rice and meat as well. I must report that the ‘paco pacos” (tacos) were a great hit. Also stunning were the three cakes that Dr. Hary had made the evening before (she is the only one Caite knows with an oven). And did I mention that you cannot eat just one piece of cake? You have to be able to tell her which cake you liked best, which requires that you have first hand experience with each of the cakes.
‘Mamen Keti, Mamen Keti’, I hear as one of the children tugs on my shirt. Oh yes…I forgot, that’s me. In Madagascar you are known as the mother or father of your firstborn child, and it takes me a while to adjust to being called ‘Mamen Caitie’ by everyone I meet. I brought small gifts for the children and found that there is no language barrier when reading books like ‘The Hungry Caterpillar’ and ‘Owen and Mzee’. Language is also no barrier when playing the ‘Uno’ card game. I now have a glimpse of what Caite will experience when she leaves Mandritsara in December. As I said goodbye, all three of the neighbor girls were hanging on me, crying ‘Mamen Caitie, don’t go’.
We are now in Antananarivo, the capital city, preparing to head to the island of Mauritius for a beach vacation.