Spicy Noodle Day. Aaaah, Spicy Noodle Day. I wake up on Sundays with a smile on my face. Today everything will be perfect. Nothing can go wrong on Spicy Noodle Day. During the week, a wonderful young woman named Zarina cooks for us. We enjoy sweet potato soup, bok bok, mokhari, rice and beans, fish and rice, and veggie stew during the week. On the weekends, unless we are in Tulear, we cook for ourselves. That means pasta. And then, on Sunday nights, we have spicy noodles! They are the Malagasy version of Top Ramen, only better. It comes with two different spices, three different sauces, and a packet of crispy fried onions. We add some wonderful cooked veggies and the feast begins. You get to mix and match ingredients as you wish. It feels like everyone is eating a slightly different meal, and we are all in a state of pure bliss. What joy! Spicy noodle day is perfection.
Seriously, though, food here is pretty great. But if you are used to eating several small meals a day, be prepared for a bit of an adjustment period. We eat three times a day, and you can usually have some fruit in between. For the first couple of weeks, I was a bit…well…’starving’. After that, however, my stomach adjusted and I felt quite content. And if you stay away from Honko for a day or two, you’ll start to miss the beans and rice. They’re seriously delicious. But if you go to Tulear or Mangily, be prepared for the temptation to indulge yourself and spend more money than you planned. There’s a lot of fish, shrimp, veggies, fries, and salad out there. And then you’ll want to wash it down with the great coffee at Rose d’Or, lovely cold Cristal (sparklingwater), or maybe a Fresh (alcoholic lemonade). Then there are the desserts. Pastries, crepes, gelato, oh my! Soooo delicious. It’s good I got sick a couple times while I was here so I could balance out the feasting with some fasting.
On a different, and more serious, note, my time here is almost through. I leave in a week.I have learned a great deal in a very short time. I am so grateful to Honko and the people of Belalanda Commune for allowing me to live and do a bit of work in such an amazing and beautiful place. I leave behind some ongoing projects. I have a great deal of hope for them, and am sad that I cannot stay to see them through. The project I am most proud of and grateful to Honko for implementing is the Junior Guides Program. We currently have 11 students attending a training led by Philemon every Saturday. While there are still quite a few bumps in the road to iron out, I am so excited to find out what happens. I plan to stay connected and help as much as I canfrom home. And Honko has been so gracious and eager through this whole process, I trust that the program will continue to get better and better. When you get here, please lend a hand. It takes everyone to make things work here at Honko. You are important. Honko needs you. Good luck, future volunteers. Come with no expectations, an open heart and mind, and a readiness to work. You will not be disappointed.