21 avril 2014

Strange food they have here.

         These are banana flowers. They grow on the ends of big banana bunches like below. You have a hundred or so bananas spiralling downwards, and a big purple flower on the end. Lots of people eat yellow bananas. Here, green bananas are a vegetable like any other, and a cheap one at that, as most people have a banana plant somewhere nearby. Green bananas are eaten fried, they're very filling but don't taste of much. A pain to peel, too. I learnt the other day that you could eat the flowers. There's a... [Lire la suite]
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14 avril 2014

Majicavo

The village I live in is called Majicavo. Literally, it means "where there is no water". Like all Mahorese villages, it's a very poor place, but near enough to the capital (Mamoudzou) for people to want to be modern and Westernized. Also like all Mahorese villages, it has a lot of shops, known as doukas, and small local restaurants, called brochetti or brochetterie because they sell mainly chicken wings and kebabs of meat or fish. They have names such as "Welcome Mayotte", "Mastéréhi" ("Enjoy your meal and be at rest"),... [Lire la suite]
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24 mars 2014

Two Classical Concerts Went To Market...

         This week-end and last week-end, there were two concerts. Not the same one repeated but two different ones. The common denominator was the music school director's sister, Odile, who plays first flute in the Avignon orchestra and who sings too. She was in Mayotte on holiday for ten days, so they wanted to show her off as much as possible while she was here. She and the cellist, Kerstin, a Swedish lady I've already played with a couple of times and who is lovely, have been working together for the... [Lire la suite]
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17 mars 2014

Hey to the Ferry.

          P came over during my half-term holidays to spend a week in Mayotte with me. During that week, we played a lot of music and we ate out several times. It was on one of these times that something rather interesting happened. The restaurant we wanted to go to was on the small island, and my flat is on the big island. So far all was well, we bought a couple of ferry tickets (there are ferries across the water every half hour, the trip takes about twenty minutes) and got on the ferry. The problem was... [Lire la suite]
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24 février 2014

Put it on your head.

         A series of rather interesting postcards has been released recently. They're all drawings of scenes in Mayotte. My favourite is the one above, as it's a mixture of two scenes I come across very regularly. Scooters here aren't just a quick way of getting from point A to point B. They're a fully-fledged means of transport for both people and merchandise. It's not rare to see scooters with not only two people, sometimes three, but also a huge sack of rice, a full bunch of bananas or a cubic metre of... [Lire la suite]
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17 février 2014

Playing the violin on stage.

            On the first day of February, the music school in Mamoudzou held its second classical concert. We'd managed to bring together quite the orchestra, with different - complementary - instruments, and different nationalities. One of the violinists was French, the other was Mexican. The violist was Greek and the cellist Swedish. Clarinetist and trumpeter were French, the girl on the recorder was English and the lad on the piano and organ was an Algerian Jew. We also had a couple of pupils from... [Lire la suite]
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10 février 2014

Dancing Nyota

           There's been a folk-dancing workshop for the last few years here. It started the year I arrived in Mayotte, and was under the name of the Bretons de Mayotte association. Now, it's led by a man who has lived all over France, travelled all over Africa, speaks eighteen languages such as Indonesian, Malagasy, Bislama, Dioula, Wolof, Mandarin Chinese, Tamil, Fulfulde and Quechua along with English, French, Italian and Portuguese, and who seems able to do anything from plaiting leaves to make... [Lire la suite]
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06 février 2014

The Box.

                  Sent: 06 January 2014. Received: 03 February 2014. Not too bad. Boxes and parcels always take about a month. Except that this particular one was coming from the UK, which the Mahorese customs weren't too sure about. They sent me a letter the week before arrival, saying that they wanted me to tell them what was in the box (although the contents were written in both languages on said box) and to give them an invoice proving what the contents were worth. I sent it... [Lire la suite]
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03 février 2014

Total Jumbo Strike

            There are two big strikes going on at the moment. And being Mayotte, where nothing really ever goes as planned, they're both worth a mention.                                 The first - and bigger - is the Total strike. Total is the one and only petrol provider in Mayotte, the group has a complete monopolis over the island. But the problem doesn't come from Total itself. The problem comes from the Overseas... [Lire la suite]
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27 janvier 2014

Cyclone Alert

           Last week, we had a cyclone exercise at school. Much more interesting than your average fire drill, where everyone just lines up under the big tree in the playground, and not as awkward as the earthquake simulation, where they all have to fit under the (rather on the small side) tables. In this cyclone exercise, we have to fit all the kids into the five or six largest rooms in the school and confine them there for however long it takes for the cyclone to get out of the way and let us carry... [Lire la suite]