Chapter II: The Chinese Doctor

Wednesday, October 11, 2000

My dad left last night. This means that I’m on my own now. I spent some really nice days at the hotel of my aunt who I get to see about once every ten years. The second part of my trip starts in Fort Dauphin, a nice little town at the Southern coast of Madagascar, and I’m sitting right here in a nice Malagasy restaurant called “Las Vegas”. It is hot but windy.

On the airplane, I met this Chinese doctor who was just about to start working in a small village beyond any civilization. He volunteered for two years, leaving his wife and son behind (he said he misses them a lot so I wondered why he came here in the first place). He seemed to be very interested in AIDS issues so he started asking me about gay people in Canada and Europe. He was amazed that gay people could admit that they were gay, even in public. Naturally, he also wanted to know about sexual intercourse and, thus, kept asking me about my preferences and experience - including somewhat naive questions such as “Have you ever had sexual intercourse with a gay person?” - it was a long conversation because we had problems interpreting each other’s English. He ended up deciding that he was not going to sleep with anyone in Madagascar because he didn’t own any condoms. Again, I wondered about his relationship with his wife.

When my dad and I walked around, little kids always greeted him with a “Bonjour vazaha!”. I always got that ok-this-is-a-vazaha-but-who-the-hell-is-this-guy look. Not white enough to be a vazaha and not dark enough to be a Malagasy. In the last two weeks, I got a little bit of a tan and now that I’m alone, the locals are just majorly confused. When I checked in at the hotel, they said “Why does this Malagasy speak French with us?”. In a small store, where I bought some water, they said “Bonjour” but when I spoke Malagasy (my limited knowledge of Malagasy is just enough to buy some water) they said “Oh, you speak Malagasy!”. The people in the South have a completely different dialect. But still, if I can hook up with some locals, I might be able to learn something.