Pay Attention.

Being in Madagascar, my “normal” has changed. It’s a different way of life here, and a lot of times, I really forget to look around at the sights around me. But when I do stop and take things in, I just have to smile. Whether it’s a live pig getting carried on a cart, living his last few minutes of his pig life or a man walking ducks down the street, the realization of my “normal” is definitely different than it was in the States.

But most of the time? I am so caught up in my own thoughts or trying to avoid accidents driving or walking, that I don’t really stop and pay attention.

So today, as I walked from the school to the grocery store, I decided to do just that:

Pay attention.

There is a man, holding a rooster who lets out a loud “cock a doodle doo”. I wonder if the rooster knows that today is probably his last day here.

On the way back, I see a young boy holding a chicken, taking it back home for lunch.

I hear the sound of cars honking and engines running as people sit still in traffic. Patience in traffic is an art I have yet to perfect!

There is a man yelling, calling people to come buy things from a table full of clothes. It reminds me of a very loud garage sale on the side of the road.

The money collectors at the back of the buses are also yelling, getting people to climb on to get to their destination.

In one of the booths, there is a lady fixing old shoes, with her toddler sitting next to her. There are so many children on the street, sitting with their parents while they earn their income.

In another stall, close by, the owners are playing music.

On the side of the road, you can buy car parts, fruit, vegetables, toothbrushes, candy, toys, fried snacks, jewelry, cell phones, accessories, etc. You name it. You can probably find it.

There are people sitting in other booths, eating their lunch of noodles or rice. It’s Madagascar’s version of fast food.

Need a small balloon on a stick? There is a man walking around, making his income from selling them to children.

You can turn into the market area and pick up your fruits and vegetables and eggs for the week.

There is also meat hanging or sitting on the counters. The animals were alive this morning. It’s quite the sight and the smell!

There is a woman balancing a large basket on her head.

Outside of the market, I see a man having to push his bicycle because it’s weighed down by a huge bag of pineapples and other fruits.

There are men pushing carts of wood or fruit or yellow buckets of water or whatever else needs to be transported.

If I ever need a colorful mattress, there are three sitting on the side of the road.

As I’m walking, I’m avoiding people, bicycles, salesmen, and cars.

I hear a few people say “hello” in Malagasy and French directed at me. There is even a whistle. I ignore it, as always. Being a “vaza” (Foreigner) here definitely makes me stand out.

So many sights. So many sounds. And so many times, I miss it all, simply because I’m not paying attention.

What about you? What are some things around you that just make you smile? Maybe it’s something new and exciting or maybe…just maybe, it’s the “normal” in your life.

As you go throughout your day today, stop and pay attention.

You’ll be amazed by the beauty of it all.

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