Blog from MBP Volunteer, Nina
Miasa mafy vao mikaly nama!
Translation: Those who work hard will be fed, my friend!
Litchi baskets stacked and ready to be filled next to the Ambolotara fokontany sign.
A tree behind Ambolotara with many bright red, litchi masaka.
Litchi season is in full swing, and no better time to see this popular Malagasy song’s phrase in action. The first signs of litchi season come even weeks before the first fruits are masaka (ripe). With so many litchi trees in the area, women prepare weeks ahead of the time weaving baskets that are specific for litchi transportation, which are lined with banana leaves before transported by taxi-brousse or big trucks that stop all along the highway at trading spots in each fokontany (town). Be careful, though. You could get marary kibo (sick stomach) from eating too many before they turn a bright red. Patience at the beginning of litchi season can be difficult! Since the beginning of litchi season, I’ve noticed that litchis are tied closely with two things: miasa mafy (hard work) and namana (friends).
Nothing makes a better break during a day of hard work than a handful of litchis picked from a nearby tree. Sometimes this requires climbing the tree, which most people here have been experts at since climbing fruit trees as a child. The same applied with jackfruit season, just now on its way out, when you would hear “Masaka?!” yelled across KAFS on a regular basis.
As for friendships, in just one bike ride from a planting site back to KAFS I received bunches of litchi from 3 different acquaintances. It’s definitely not only me, though. You see people all the time exchanging litchis in passing along the road, accompanied by the typical extremely long greeting to family and friends that they haven’t seen in a while:
A: “Lahaly dia akory lahaly?”
B: “Tsara be dia lahaly.”
A: “Mana koria aby?”
B: “Mbola tsara.”
A: “Inona no vaovao?”
…which, in sum, asks if he/she and their family had a good sleep last night and about what is new in their fokontany.
A bowl full of litchi for lunch’s dessert at KAFS!