While we're in Ambato Boeni, we will have the chance to experience everyday life in rural Madagascsar. What's more, we'll have the opportunity to observe a major holiday in the year: Assumption Day on 15 August. The church does play a major role not only in leading the faithful Catholics of Ambato Boeni, but also as a social organization. For this reason, Sunday is one of the most important days of the week in Ambato Boeni, but it is overshadowed by one other day...Thursday!
What makes Thurdsay so important? Thursday in Ambato Boeni is Market Day! No one works on Market Day (well, except those people who work at the market of course). Likewise, our own project will stop on Thursdays. It's like they've taken what we know to be the weekend and split it up amonst the other days of the week.
On Market Day, we'll have the chance to wander through the stalls and vendors to see items from all around the island, and the world. This is the biggest event of the weekly social calendar. There are commercially manufactured goods like clothing and tools, but there are also handmade goods, food and drink.
What makes this market different from our shopping malls here in Canada is that, in Canada, the focus is entirely on trying to sell the consumer everything possible. in Madagascar, it's all about the interaction. It's a different environment from what we've come to expect at big box stores, where it's all about maxmizing profit. In Ambato Boeni, shopping is a social event. It's all about the banter of trying to get a good price. It's about buying goods to support your own family, and selling goods for the same reason. While this will be a great chance to explore and learn, one thing is for certain: when we walk away from Market Day, the malls in Canada will never look the same.