11-16 - finals Today's my last day. I've got a lot to do and no time to do it in. I snag a ride with Gaylord and Hasine, or Gaylord snags one with me. It's kind of hard to describe. You see, Hasine was supposed to take me to the kilometer of crafts at 8am. Then Gaylord needed Hasine to drive him to SALFA at 8:45. So my trip got delayed. Then Gaylord decided to leave early, so I figured I'd go with him then once he was dropped off, go to the kilometer of crafts with Hasine. Then Gaylord decided to come with me. So there you have it. It's 8:15 or so, and we're looking at rocks. Very pretty rocks, too. There's this guy, about twelve years old, I'd say, following us around and viciously trying to sell us stuff from any stand we're near. How does this work? Does he get a commission? I say "Mora, mora." And they smile and relax a bit. It means, "slow down, slow down." and they get the message. Ultimately I do buy a fossil and a small egg of quartz. And then a scarf. It all works as I have been told. They quote you a price just about exactly twice what they'll take. The key, of course, is getting them to come down without a counter offer. If you go up before they come down, the middle point might be got to by you, and then they'll counter offer just a little bit above the midpoint. So you leave. They holler out a second drop, which keeps you on schedule for the 50% point. We're messing around here for about buck. What's the point? But in reality, I'm light on money, so if I want to get what I want to get, I have to haggle them down, or I'm not going to have everything when I get home, or I'm not going to be able to pay the bill at MELCAM. Which is an issue, because Lanto (ie SALFA) wants to pay $66 that I ran up while Doug and Ramona were here. Which is crap. I'm not with rotary. I didn't get them the computers. I don't want to take $66 of money to buy TB cure out of their budget. So I want to have enough in pocket to ace out Lanto and pay my WHOLE bill. After getting the total from Leon, I ask for Hasine to come with me to the bank. I'll be carrying more money than I usually do, more than $300, and I'm nervous. This, by the way is probably three months salary for Hasine. We walk it over to the bank, get it changed, drop by the post office, and come back. I feel the hugeness of the wad of cash on the way there, but that's nothing compared to 630,000 Ariary in my pocket on the way back. 10,000 is the biggest unit they have, so I've got more than sixty rolled-up bills in my pocket. I feel obvious and LOADED. I pass most of that to Leon, then make a thank you envelope for Honorine. I write something, if I may say so myself, nice. That's easy to do when it's true. "People here treated me like a king, which was pleasant, but it was you who made me feel safe, and cared for, and at home." All true. I walked away from Madagascar with 7,000 Ariary, and I did so because I thought I might need it for water of somesuch. I didn't and so I think, damn, should have given that to Honorine. She deserves as much as I have. She's a jewel. At work (yes, managed to get to work) I spent a couple of hours with the gimp, trying to make some nice logos for them. Also trying to munge said logos into vectors, which are more useful than rastor images. Didn't work so well. I'll get it done over the weekend and send it to them. This weekend I also need to arrange a website. SOA (Claire) came through at the last minute and bought the site, and I found out very quickly that something was wrong with the website. The site is canned -- you need to go through a wizard and use one of their templates. We're screwed, and I need to get both our money back and a new provider. I'm low, because of this, and leave in failure. Well, I got a lot more out of this than SALFA did. Gonna have to just live with that one. I get home and pack up. Doesn't take long. I clean a little, take out the trash for the very first time (it's been piling up) and give Honorine the envelope. She hugs me for a long time, squeezing hard, when she reads the note, and doesn't even look at the bills. Later, and hour before Lanto should come, she comes by my apartment and hugs me again and cries. I break out the stash in the fridge and split one with her: some American isn't getting a chocolate bar. Sorry, it was needed here. I manage to get her to eat almost half. Pat and Gaylord are out to dinner with some muckamucks so we have already said our good-byes. Lanto arrives at 9:30pm with his three oldest kids. I hand him the tripod -- I won't be needing it again, at least for this trip, and ply the kids with a chocolate covered caramel from the local chocolate factory (they're only eight cents each!). And by 11:00pm, I'm past customs, alone, sitting at the gate, fighting off sleep, and waiting for a plane.