Madagascar has a really unique culture, which is nothing like the culture in America. The everyday food here is rice and laoka (some sort of topping to eat with the rice). I have eaten a lot of rice since I have been here in Madagascar. I have also eaten some unique foods since I have been here like: ravitoto (crushed up leaves), eel, fish, fish eggs, corn with coconut water, mangahazo (which is this really dry, root type vegetable and it might be cassava root), etc. I won't lie, most of the food I have eaten since I have been here has not been too bad, even though it is unique. There are, however, foods that I never want to eat like trondromaina (dried fish).
Madagascar is an island off of the coast of Southeast Africa. There are about 23 million people who live here and there are several different tribes, each with their own dialect. The dialect of Malagasy spoken in Fort Dauphin , my third area, is not the same as the dialect spoken in Fianarantsoa. There is an official Malagasy dialect, which the majority of Malagasies, no matter where they are from, at least understand. The missionaries learn official Malagasy and then, if they go to a province where a dialect other than official Malagasy is commonly spoken, they learn some of that dialect. I learned the Antanosy dialect when I was in Fort Dauphin.
People here carry baskets on top of their heads, leaving their hands free to do other things.(Multitasking) It is not uncommon to see someone riding a ox-pulled cart through the streets, though cars are also plentiful. Fruit (and other produce) are really cheap and of good quality. I have probably eaten the best pineapple I have ever had here in Madagascar. There are not as many good dairy products here, and no McDonalds or Chipotle. There are a few groceries stores that have a lot of items, so those are the places we missionaries buy ingredients for making food (because some of the street food can make you sick).
There are tons of churches here and some have interesting names. The Church of the Christians of the Holy Ghost, Jehovah is Powerful Adventist Church (something like that) and then there is the Jesus Saves church. There are also Protestants, Catholics, Lutherans, Jehovah's Witnesses, Seventh-day Adventists, Pentecostals, and an Apocalypse church. This is basically Palmyra, New York in 1820. Worship has an important role in the lives of the people here, and so it is not too much of a challenge to find people who want to hear about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. After being sick last week we had to rebuild our teaching schedule from scratch, we are still not getting much help in fellowships from the members of our ward, but we were able to reactivate some less active members last week.
There is a new person that we're teaching (an older man), who seems interested in learning about our message. At first it seemed that he just wanted to argue and that we would not be able to accomplish much by teaching him, but he was really intrigued when we answered one of his questions (which was answered by doctrine from the Plan of Salvation). We will teach him again this week.
Transfers are almost here. I should find out on Saturday where I am going to "die" (in missionary vocabulary that means where I will finish my mission). I will try to mention more about the culture of Madagascar next week as well. Send questions! Have a great week everyone!