Embrace the Mada-ness

Let me try to summarise my first two weeks in Tana. In numbers:

  • Hours of teaching so far: 37
  • Hours of teaching prepared more than an hour beforehand: 23
  • Average working hours per day: 13
  • Total time spent in Tana traffic: 5
  • Total time spent in Carlton hotel, waiting for Tana traffic to abate: 19
  • Cups of coffee: not enough
  • Units of alcohol: not nearly enough

As foreshadowed, it has not been a gentle beginning, but I’ve always been one for the deep end. Arriving on Sunday afternoon, I had a few hours to settle in at home, catch up with Anri-Louise on news, and begin crash-course on the NGO, the OT school and Mada life. Mercifully, teaching only began Tuesday, so Monday was merely a full-day strategic planning meeting with the NGO, orientation to key things like cell-phones and food and drinking water and Malagasy culture and public transport, and teaching preparation for Tuesday. Tuesday was intro day with students, and from Wednesday to Friday we had 47 hours of teaching to cover between us, 27 of which were brand new material.

And so we hit it hard: up at 5am, on the road by 6 to get to class by 7.30. In the car, we plan the day, thrash out subject content and touch base on student issues. Anri navigates the insanity of Tana traffic while texting, answering my questions and dealing with her NPO staff. I hold the coffee, type documents to dictation and finish preparing my lesson plans. After the morning session, we meet up for lunch, swap notes about class and plan the afternoon. Often the last lesson only ends at 5, so we repair to the Carlton hotel to sit out the worst of the traffic (three hours in the car, or three hours working in air-conditioned comfort with mostly-decent wi-fi – not a tough choice). If we leave after 8pm, we can get home in a mere three-quarters of an hour. On good days there will be both water and electricity when we get home. We charge devices, fill up drums and water filters, and crash. If either is out, well, earlier to bed for us.

Rinse, repeat.

The second week has been a little better, as L2 has been on prac placement (“stage”), so we each only teach half a day, and supervise the other half. From next week the stage placements are scattered around the city, so I’m up for scooter lessons this weekend.

It is nuts. But what a trip…



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