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    Letters from Madagascar 12/102023 - Submitted photo | of | Share this photo

    The market in Ambalavao, a small urban center in south central Madagascar not unlike Lewiston, offers nearly everything one could need, including household goods, clothes, hardware and food. During my Dec. 6 visit, I bought plastic food containers, a broom, curry spices and a couple of pineapples.

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    Letters from Madagascar 12/102023 - Vanessa Paolella photo | of | Share this photo

    My bedroom in my host community boasts a Peace Corps-issued mountain bike, a giant 1996 map of the world from the old Edward Little High School and my Sun Journal paper tube.

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    Letters from Madagascar 12/102023 - Submitted photo photo | of | Share this photo

    I received many laughs and stares from people while walking with my newly purchased twin-sized mattress in one of Madagascar's cities before leaving for my permanent community on Nov. 23.

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    Letters from Madagascar 12/102023 - Submitted photo photo | of | Share this photo

    Somehow, Peace Corps staff managed to fit my twin bedframe, bookshelf, coffee table, kitchen table and metal trunk on top of our vehicle as we made out way to my community. The trunk of the car, too was jam-packed with stuff.

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    Letters from Madagascar 12/102023 - Vanessa Paolella photo | of | Share this photo

    A section of the market in Ambalavao, which is a small urban center in south central Madagascar not unlike Lewiston.

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    Letters from Madagascar 12/102023 - Vanessa Paolella photo | of | Share this photo

    My kitchen has a water filter, left, and a three-burner gas stove, right.

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    Letters from Madagascar 12/102023 - Vanessa Paolella photo | of | Share this photo

    Alexandre, a mason, spent several days building the toilet and shower rooms in my backyard in the community where I am stationed. The toilet hole is roughly 25 feet deep and was hand-dug by other workers weeks earlier.

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    Letters from Madagascar 12/102023 - Vanessa Paolella photo | of | Share this photo

    The area where I'm working boasts stunning views of villages, fields and mountains.

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    Letters from Madagascar 12/102023 - Vanessa Paolella photo | of | Share this photo

    Sunday worship at a Lutheran church in Mantasoa, where the Peace Corps training center is located. Parishioners usually pray inside the nearby church, but the special service on Nov. 12 made it necessary to relocate outside.

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    Letters from Madagascar 12/102023 - Submitted photo | of | Share this photo

    During my two months of training in Mantasoa, I lived with a large host family that included three kids and two babies. This photo was taken after church on Sunday, Nov. 5.

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    Letters from Madagascar 12/102023 - Vanessa Paolella photo | of | Share this photo

    Soccer is the most common sport in Madagascar. In Mantasoa, where the Peace Corps training center is located, games that are played every Sunday draw hundreds of spectators.

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    Letters from Madagascar 12/102023 - Vanessa Paolella photo | of | Share this photo

    My host sister and her cousins discover hand dryers in a bathroom at the Peace Corps training center in Mantasoa on Nov. 4.

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    Letters from Madagascar 12/102023 - Submitted photo | of | Share this photo

    Lemurs at a wildlife park near the Peace Corps training center are well-acquainted with humans. The lemurs don't hesitate to hop onto visitors shoulders when bananas are offered.

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    Letters from Madagascar 12/102023 - Vanessa Paolella photo | of | Share this photo

    A green chameleon seen in a lemur park near the Peace Corps training center in Mantasoa.

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    Two ring-tailed lemurs chase after a small group of Peace Corps volunteers in the hopes of receiving more bananas in a lemur park near the Peace Corps training Center in Mantasoa. A young ring-tailed lemur can be seen clinging to the underside of the lemur to the left.

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    A female ring-tailed lemur nurses her baby at a lemur park near the Peace Corps training center in Mantasoa.

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