So, this week I got changed to Ambositra, that is the name of my new area at least. It is a small and quiet city on the way to Fianarantsoa from Antsirabe. The drive here was not my favorite, I can not tell a lie. I woke up at 5 AM on Wednesday, took a Taxi from our house to the office and got there at about 6 30 AM. I then put my luggage on a mission vehicle and took an hour long ride to the big bus stop for interconnecting cities. I waited for an hour and then was off. So before I have mentioned my distaste of the taxi bes back in Antananrivo, well this was much worse. They are a special kind of bus called a taxi brosy. They are the same size as the taxi be, but they have more seats crammed inside. It was not my favorite experience. And the seats are definitely not designed with non-malagasies in mind, so my legs were awfully sore. Before my mission I complained with the amount of space for legs on cheap airplane seats, this was about ten times worse. My knees were jammed straight into the seat in front of me and my feet were hovering above the ground. There was not enough room for me to have my legs straight out at a 90 degree angle, but I had to curve my body in order to fit. So after the very fun 3 hour bus ride along broken roads and swerving paths, we arrived in Antsirabe. I still had another 3 hours to go. So all of the 5 elders that were with me got off at that point and I was left alone on the crowded, small bus. Another 3 more hours and I finally arrived in Ambositra. I nearly threw up, but I contained myself. We are taught in this church to be masters of our bodies, not servants to them. I feel I have adequately achieved this principle by not allowing my body to throw up, against all possible odds - haha. But yeah, hopefully I won't be taking another bus (crammed minivan) ride like that anytime soon.
Ambositra is a fairly nice city. It is a lot less crowded than Antananarivo, and a lot cleaner too. Back in Ambohimanarina it felt as though every time I took a breath of the air, 1 year of my life was getting sucked away. I have concluded that I will most likely die at the age of 28 from natural causes, just because of the air quality in Antananrivo. But the air here is much nicer, and that is mainly due to the fact that here there are no taxi bes, and only a small amount of other vehicles. Here the preferred mode of trasnportation is a posiposy. A posiposy consists of a small one-man (three-malagasy) carriage, and a small Malagasy in the front, playing the role of the horse. The total length of the posiposy is about 6 feet, not very long. But there are loads of them here in the streets of Ambositra. But it does keep the air cleaner having the preferred mode of transportation powered by human-strength, and not by gas or any type of fuel. Though I must admit, it is quite a sight seeing a 5 foot 3 thin Malagasy pulling a family of Malagasies down the road in a small man-carriage. Whatever makes the dough I guess. Something unique about Ambositra is that it is Madagascar's wood capital, so it has loads of nice little shops where people can buy things carved from wood. Another cool thing is that many shops here let you place custom orders on carvings, so I can literally have a custom made and high-quality carving made for a very cheap price. So yeah, I will probably be spending a lot of money on souvenirs here.
Another thing that is different is the dialect. Back in Ambohimanarina we spoke a dialect called Merina, here they speak Betsileo. It isn't quite as different to be considered an entirely different language, but way more different than just an accent. There are lots of new words that are used here that I still don't know. The dialect here is one of the easier ones though, so it shouldn't be too bad. It is very similar to the National dialect of Merina in Antananarivo.
Oh, I almost forgot, the shower in my new house is awful. It is the coldest water I have ever had to shower in throughout my entire life. It is strange though, somehow the shower water is twice as cold as the outside temperature. It is very queer. But back in the old house I used to enjoy and look forward to showers, but here, showering is probably my least favorite thing to do. It feels as if I am dumping ice-cold water down my body. I sometimes gasp just from the shock I get from the coldness of the stuff. It isn't too much fun. It reminds me of the days of Scout camp, when there was the water challenge or something where we had to swim in a freezing cold body of water for some time. I can assure the shower is much worse.
Well that is probably all for this email, the connection here in the middle of nowhere isn't that strong, signing off.
Picture of Benjamin and his new companion Elder Snell. Picture from Elder Snell.
Rice paddies in Benjamin's new area, Ambositra.
Benjamin, LoaNika, Leona, Ely, Lanto, Elder Evans in Ambohimanarina. They are a member family and Benjamin liked them a lot.
The following two pictures are from Elder Snell. They are both in Benjamin's new area.
This is taken at the Hotel Artisan. Dad told Benjamin to eat lunch here, the online reviews were very good. It looks like they might have.