Christmas Break (3 of 5): Antananarivo

Antananarivo gets less intimidating the more you visit it. Downtown Tana has beggars and pickpockets lurking on its sidewalks, but with better Malagasy skills and hardened street smarts we volunteers were able to deflect them. The bus system becomes more manageable. Dirt still paints the buildings’ walls and the streets still have mud and litter, but then again, so do most of our site villages. With some exploring, the city also gets more impressive with each visit from our sites. It has buildings! Tall ones! The vendors have cheese and bread! In all sorts of varieties, too! And wait, it has a sports arena and university?! Where are we, America?!

One morning Michelle and I went to a store for breakfast. On the walk there a Ferrari sped past us. At the store we had baguettes, yogurt, and juice. Then we walked to the bus stop to take the bus to downtown Tana. While we waited six children in torn, filthy clothes approached us with their hands open. They couldn’t have been older than six years old. We shook our heads and said we didn’t have money to give them. A moment later a Malagasy woman finished a cup of yogurt and gave the container to the children. The two oldest children fought over it until one snatched it entirely out of the other’s hands. He shook the container’s last drips of yogurt into his hand and licked the drips eagerly.

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