Today was an early day. We were up and about by 7am distributing surveys. Surveying a third of the schools in a country (albeit a small one) is no mean feat. Something had been getting on my nerves for a while and I finally told my travel group about it. We would be driving with a plastic bag for trash. Whenever we would get on the main road, the local consultant would just chuck the trash out of the window. Juste comme ca. I HATE littering. How don’t people connect in their minds the link between their individual actions and a polluted environment. If you are reading this and you are the type who throw trash anywhere other than a dustbin – stop it! You are not being a good citizen on the world. The group was so surprised that I thought littering was a big deal. People – we can do better.
Anyhoo, one of the schools we visited today was on the top of a mountain. We drove up as far as we could then we had to get out of the car and walk up the rest of the distance. I died a thousand deaths – it was crazy hot, I was in a work suit and I HAAAATE elevation. I’m done with mountains. I’ve been done with mountains for a long time, but they are not yet done with me. I got to the top of the mountain huffing, puffing and sweating buckets. It was not a pretty sight. Thankfully I was in flats – I only wear heels for field visits when we have Government meetings in a known part of the capital city. Otherwise I assume there might be lots of unplanned walking.
Finally we got to the top of the mountain. The people there were an interesting mix. This mountain was on the side of Comoros closest to Madagascar. As such, some of the people there looked Malagasy.
On our way back down the mountain, we gave two people a lift. It turned out they were going to try and make their way into Mayotte for medical treatment using a pirogue. Can you imagine what types of problems it creates having a little piece of Europe right next to you? One poorcountry next to another that has the same people but is much wealthier and has all the amenities of a Western nation.
The next series of schools for the day were an interesting mix. There was one very remote one – when I took a few pics and showed the kids, they ran away – believing it was magic. That is how remote this area was – the kids had never seen a digital camera. I stopped taking pics as it got disruptive.
We went to pick up surveys in 10 other schools we had delivered them to and not a single one had been filled. Sigh. We got to schools where the Director could barely converse in French – and the surveys had been in French. Schools where barefoot children would run in and out of the director’s house like it was their mother’s kitchen. I concluded that corporal punishment doesn’t happen in Comoros (a good thing.) You would have caught me dead in primary (or high school) just sauntering into the headmaster’s office like that. Hell would have frozen over and some serious caning would await you (especially in primary school. High school was mostly for hot slaps that left your ears ringing.)