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Daily Lifestyle- Strategies- Hints- Secrets.....

When Expats come to live in a new community they cling onto their own culture and customs as a safety net.    I think we could discuss here how to explain to Expats who are here for work or on a pension or some who wish to seek a different lifestyle  about how to have a comfortable lifestyle in Madagascar, by saving money and getting more out of  life on less money much the way the locals have.

Basic rule on Culture shock:  Its not about right vs wrong-- It is about something is just different but/and not being better or it is what it is.

Slowing down, just go slow, not slow enough- your not there yet---, ok start over- go slow is easier said than done, it takes Practice. Patience and Time. our motto has taught us
"Don't put off till tomorrow what can be done today"   Here the motto is more like, now is not a good time there is always tomorrow or next week..... and who knows, with the passage of time you may never have to do it at all, again it takes Practice, Patience and Time.  You will get the hang of it and it is pretty sweet, certainly a lot less stress.  The clock is not important, its either morning or afternoon, day or night and you will even come to forget which day of the week it is.  You will start to think in terms of seasons- now it is Lychee season, rainy season is soon.   Soon--- being the best way to explain time. 
Example---- ME, " hi- does this taxi bush go to Ambanja"  THEM " yes"   ME, "when"  THEM " Soon"
Me  "  thank you"     Translation of soon---> That Taxi bush can leave this morning or afternoon or tomorrow and in rainy season SOON could even mean after three days.  So best to Slow down....

Say a friendly hello to everyone you meet, especially if you are not on a busy street- Its polite and it is the connection to the local community.  Saying hello is really not enough, you will also need to make long eye contact for this how people get to know you -being the eyes are the windows to your spirit.
Saying hello to elders need to follow with a "tompo"  Salama tompo --- Tompo meaning Sir or Madame

If you do not do the above- well you just have bad manners and give a bad name to our culture.

When I am passed on the street by Strangers I will get a Tompo, People who know me and friendly will call me by my Community name  which for all of us is either papa or mama plus the first name of your first born. My Maid is called by mama-nino. 
I am never addressed by my USA given name of Alex. - except by expats---go figure.

Mosquitos are starting to multiply now that the rainy season is increasing.  Buying these sprays in the stores are expensive and don't really work.  I have tried these sprays ( like Raid) in  large cans for $4 to $6 and they for the most part do not kill Mosquitos unless you are right on top of them. These sprays can kill ants but ants in large numbers are fady to kill.  Don't have many ants except a few in my coffee in the morning. Any way I don't have an issue with ants, I can live around their activities most of the time.

Still if you want to kill mosquitos I recommend Mizavos Dichlorvos ( organophosphore) one liter for 12 dollars which is great against Mosquitos and other bugs like ticks and fleas.  You mix a 150 mill for some 10 litres of water so it goes a long way.  You fill up a bottle of eau vive, water and punch a few holes in the top and you spray around the perimeter of the room.  That one bottle of water mix can last for a couple of weeks, use it wisely.  After 30 minutes you will see hundreds  of Mosquitos all over, easy to see on my white tile floor.   So many of them it is hard to believe they were there in the first place. So spray under the beds and chairs..etc
This liquid mix is a bargain and works really well and lasts for hours. I have family that come and stay and sleep in the living room so they can watch Canal Sat movies most of the night and they spray this concoction and they are free from mosquito bites. 
And the one liter bottle of concentrate of Mizavos will last me about 2 to 3 months.  I don't like poison but I spray about one hour before my kids get up and have breakfast and make ready for school but only when the Mosquitos are in full force which is not every day.
If anyone has a better idea I sure would like to hear it.

Certain Secret safety issues that are not common to expats unless you have watched horror movies about how Strangers secretly move into your house, basement or attic.  .
Well I saw a news story again on T V about how in Madagascar people will sneak into your house and stay under your bed or closet for hours and wait till you fall asleep then with their phone light they will steal your T V ,radio, money, gold etc... and go out the door all so quietly and with no evidence of a break in.   Here in Madagascar there is this stealth stealing  low tech process, where they will have an accomplice  and even your guardian and / or maid even visiting family members, outside the house and even a tuk tuk- and back when  I was aware of it, a taxi wait to carry off the stolen goods.  Some times they ran into the forest to hide the goods till the coast is clear.
I have watched my wife over the years periodically check under the beds and closets for strangers so this has been a habit long before I arrived in Madagascar.

Best times to get anything done will be Tuesday , Wednesday and Thursday. This general rule crosses the public and private sector.  Government work is slow or workers showing up late and no shows by workers on Mondays and Fridays.   Banks are at their busiest on Monday and Fridays. Saturdays are the busiest in the markets for food and hardware supplies as well as the restaurants. 
Sundays are a day of rest and recovery for most people, so most places are closed anyway except for restaurants.  By the time Sunday arrives for restaurants, they may be out of several items-like bread or butter or hamburgers...etc
The Ex pats have the freedom to choose the best days to do their business.  And if you need to do something on the busier days than early morn is best- as in when the Bank opens or stores and you usually only have a one hour window before it gets busy, the lines get longer-though forget government work those two days unless you have all day to wait.
Traffic is at its busiest on Monday and Fridays as well.
Maybe others can speak to bars and nightclubs/discos.  I haven't been to a nightclub for more than 13 years.  I lost interest in that style of life back then and was losing interest in that, long before that as I replaced one lifestyle for another. 
If being in a crowd of people,pleases you for ambiance, then going to some social center on Friday and Saturday is best and busy, busy, busy nights when people here in Mahajanga go to a concert or go to the seaside and eat at road side tables.   Everything gets kicking after dark. Have fun!

Hi Alex,
I really enjoy your posts, and have yet to find any that I disagree with.
Happy New Year to you!

Thank you Lilbuster for your kind thoughts.

I was watching the Malagasy news at 12:30 today and the story came up again about how many people loose their T Vs, refrig, freezer ( usually for business) and other electronics in the home. Jirama does not pay for lost electronic equipment even though they do not advertise when they will cut off electric, they just do it.

This last week Mahajanga has experience many electric cuts.  I am not sure what they are doing in the electric company, but there can be 8 to 15 cut offs and on of electric within a ten minute period then the electric is turned off for a stretch of time and some neighborhoods up to 24 hours. Even our Gastro Pizza place lost electric on Sunday for most of the day and they started to sell their melted ice cream as flavored drinks. We were there for ice cream on the way home but ended up with a ice cream drink that was warm.

Any way the point I am getting to is that about 8 years ago I bought an electric Stabilizer ( 18" x 12"x12")  that was hooked up to my main electric panel. It controls the flow of electric bursts, or extra charges  into the house when the electric is restored and protects my electronic equipment. It also has the ability to control the electric so that even in a brown out my lights work without flickering on and off. 

Very often I can hear the stabilizer working hard for there is this constant clicking noise of the stabilizer trying to adjust or control the in and outflow of electric surges.  It is amazing in some ways to listen to this stabilizer work, day in and day out and at different times.  But most of the time it is very quiet and those of you who have this understand my description. 

This Stabilizer is not cheap and cost $400 dollars and last about five years. I am on my second one now and recently replaced the internal fan, but I wonder what I would have lost had my refrig or air con was broken.  The time invested in getting a new refrig is also something to consider.  Peace of mind is priceless..............

If any one wants to know make and model then just message me or I can sent a picture of it to my twitter account madagascarlife. Or message me or Us expats of your make and model for "us"  to compare with.
Thank you

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