"Today is my 17th day as an Azafady Conservation Volunteer. Although no day is the same, I can at least give you an idea of what a typical day might be. We are awakened from our tents by the sun rising and Vira, one of the cooks, banging a spoon on the pot of breakfast rice. While out in the bush we are also treated to dough balls, banana bread and bananas. If it's your turn for dishes, you and your "sick buddy" (someone to help you stay well and nurture you through illness or injury) fetch water from the well and get to washing up.
At 7:30, depending on your module, we head out to transect trees or lemurs, search for reptiles, build beehives, survey the community or teach at the school. When the morning work has been completed, we head back to camp for lunch, of rice and beans, and a siesta. During the high heat of the day it's important to conserve your energy, so we use the daylight for a well-drawn bucket shower, to read a book, play a game or take a nap.
After resting it's time for a Malagasy language lesson with one of our three guides. We've learned about simple conversations, navigating a purchase, how to count, tell time and sentence structure. Usually by 3pm we are ready to get back to work - either continuing from the morning or doing something else entirely within the goals of your module.
As the sun begins to set, we head back to camp to finish anything daylight is needed for and have dinner. After dinner dishes are done there is candlelit time for games, conversations and laughter in the long house. The stars shine brightly over camp and we all usually turn in fairly early to rest up for the next adventure awaits, but not before a trip to the long-drop toilet. Walking down the forest path at night is a little more unnerving than during the day and the sounds and reflections of animal eyes remind you that you have made it - you are in Madagascar."
(A ring-tailed lemur and me.)