I brought two pairs of sunglasses to Madagascar. I brought two because days before leaving Omaha I lost my favorite pair and like the American consumer I was, immediately bought a new pair. As it would be I found the new pair before I left and decided on bringing both.
Hardly anyone wears sunglasses in Fianar. I don’t know how they do it. When I lift my sunglasses to have a conversation with someone I get the absolutely worse case of squinty eyes followed by a fit of sneezing. Yet, somehow most everyone here gets by without them.
A few weeks ago I put my sunglasses on top of my head so I could successfully flag down a bus to pick me up at an “unofficial” stop fully knowing that the bus wasn’t really going to make a complete stop for me. I jumped up and held on, waiting for people to scoot forward so I could actually stand in the bus. (Don’t worry, mom! I do this all the time now and my bus worker friends would never let me fall off! And let’s be real, I’ve already made friends with all the bus people. J ) In the midst of our shuffling my sunglasses fell off my head, out of the bus, and on to the street. I was ready to say my goodbyes to them, there was no way I would hop off the bus to get them but to my surprise, two men on the bus and one man on the street rushed to rescue them. I continuously thanked them and secretly was really happy I didn’t have to part with those quality Wal-Mart sunglasses.
The next day, they broke.
Although my family here mourned my loss, I knew it would be okay because I had brought another pair! Last week, I was on retreat with the other MADA-GAR 7 UPS. We enjoyed God’s marvelous creation and each other at Andringitra National Park. One day we were hiking and out of no where I hear a “pop” and a lens falls from my sunglasses. Now, I was a little bummed but knew ultimately I’d be okay and I could survive without.
So the last few days I’ve gone without sunglasses. My eyes are in a continuous state of squint and between the sun and the changing of the seasons I am constantly sneezing but I realized the barrier those two dark lenses creates. I’m conscience about taking my sunglasses off when I talk to someone but while I’m walking around they were always on, always hiding my eyes. And I never realize how much they hid until I went without. These past days more people than ever have greeted me and I believe it is because they can see my eyes. I assume it makes me more approachable.
However, I decided I needed to replace my shades and so I bought another pair. I went to these two ladies who have quite the selection whom I pass almost everyday. They were happy to help me pick out the perfect pair. Actually, the women selling fruit nearby and the man-selling cell phone chargers wanted to help me too. Although we all had some different taste in style we all settled on a pair. It was a community affair. As I put on my new sunglasses I couldn’t help but think about the lenses, figuratively and literally, I see Fianar through and the lenses I am seen through in return. And though I can’t go everyday without my sunglasses, I try to let them be the only tinted lenses I see and experience Madagascar through.
Written March 6, 2014