Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Home Sweet Home

Greeting everyone,
I'm officially in my house, in my new village where I will live for the next two years. It was quite a trip trying to get here because its been really rainy (go figure, its the rainy season) and I had tons of stuff. I had a mattress, 5 bags, a bike, and a trunk. We had a car hired for all the people going East which was awesome, but then when we got to Batouri we were on our own! I ended up staying in the big city (reminds me of Tucson- where as Bertoua (the provincial Capital) is sorta like Glendale). I live in Surprise before anyone ever moved there or had heard about it. Or maybe I live in Wikenburg- that's probably more applicable.

Anyway I finally got on my car for Ndelele yesterday afternoon and the Chef of th eAlliance Voyage (the car that takes me to Ndelele from Batouri) is super nice and helped me a lot. But unfortunately our car broke down and after a lot of yelling we were told we were going ot have to go back to Batouri afte we were half way. so our car turns around and drives for 10 minutes and then all of a sudden it turns around again and heads for ndelele, I dont know why they decided it would be okay but we ended up getting there. Unfornuntatly it started raining and I was sitting by the window, where there was no windwo pane and I ended up getting soaked wiht my computer bag under all my clothes- I took one for my electronics.

I got here and 4 boys helped me with my luggage to my house and all I had to say was I was the replacement for Miss Kate and they knew where I lived and everything about me. They found my house, which I couldnt have done in th edark and the rain, where I showed up holding my flip flops- totally soaked. We got all my stuff inside and I paid them for their help and started moving in. I was smart enough to buy dinner so I ate a sandwich and started setting up my place while watching the Office.

This morning I met my post mate- Rachel, who is super awesome and really nice. She brought me breakfast and we went to th eMarche where I bought some necessities. Then we met the Mayor and paid him because he's my land lord. I then spent a large portion of the day arranging my 4 things of furniture in various configurations and learned what lived behind those pieces of furniture. I met my friend MR. Mouse and we chased each other around while I killed more Spiders than I have ever seen in one place. I dont have a lot to complain about though, my place is really clean and I probably woundt have met these creatures so soon if I hadn't moved my furniture.

I really like my house, its small enough that I wont feel lonely adn big enough that its comfortable. Some things that are trerribly amusing is that I get my water for my house from a well in my compound. Now I'm talking, freaking bucket on the end of a string- Jack and Jill shit. It's awesome, until the bucket fell in and I was told I could tell any child adn they would climb down the well adn get the bucket! Haven't they watched CNN- Child in the well is a classic tragedy, anyway I guess they are adept at this so I'll trust them.

I also went for a run today and got stared at liek I was wearing a Mouse costume or my hair was on fire. Evidentally a woman running is super impressive and odd. I'm glad I can give them excitment. I also had kids running with me but I"m glad to say that I smoked them. Though it might be because they are malnuritied and wearing flip flops.

I'm super excited to make all of my own food now. Today I made sandwiches adn found carrots and ate them with the ranch sauce mom sent me. It was delicious! Rachel and I also made veggie fajitas tonight and it was more nutrition that I could handle! I think I am raring up for a new bucket bath so I shall depart but Its good to know my internet works here as long as I have reso, so you'll be hearing from me!

love you all and miss you like woah!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Africa says Hi

Blog 13-8
So there is this game that the kids play in Bangangte, I’ve titled it le mot dernier I’ll leave you to translate that. Its where the kids says Bonjour and then you say Bonjour (or Bon soir if the kids is confused about the time) and the kid continues saying Bonjour as you reply. I, unlike most stagaires, am focused on winning and making sure these kids do not get le mot dernier. Yesterday I walked down a whole street exchanging greetings as the child ran after me. I was bested! Evidently, if you grew up in a town where le mot dernier is the only thing to do, then you have more practice than a stubborn white girl. Did I mention the kid that I was doing battle with was probably 3, does that say anything about me?
Other updates- model school is over and my club de danse performs today, I get to dance on the side in the front because our girls asked because they are scared they’ll mess up! Well who says I wont mess up- its also the first time the other stagaires will see me dance which is not exciting for me- especially because my sports bra is still drying (too much info?). I am all about performing but I’m not totally confident at this point so I’m a little worried, but its all in fun and the girls are around 9-11 years old so the bar isn’t too high. There is one super ridiculous thing that me and Connie the other stagaire that essentially fixed the dance and made most of it and taught most of it- while I supported her, anyway while we were choreographing I encouraged her to add a ‘drop it like its hot’ move. If you know what this is the thought of a bunch of pre-teen Africans doing it will probably make you laugh or disappointed in me- but let me tell you, these kids are dancing sexy at much younger ages here. I think that if we didn’t add some sexy moves they would be disappointed, It’s also true that half of them came to model school to get a husband so what can you do- just go with the flow, I’ll help them developmentally when I get to my post, during stage I’m just learning the way of the locals.
In an exciting tidbit- I received 3 packages from my mother recently and it was like Christmas. I’ve never been so happy to see Frosted Mini wheats, shock tarts, and mac and cheese. I almost cried it was so exciting, it was the best Swearing In present. I also received a post card from Staci- I hope she is reading my blog because it made me so happy and it was so unexpected! You rock!
In other news, evidently if you want to be a teacher here you have to be a math wizard because nothing is computerized. I have spent the week calculating averages and weighting grades and stamping papers so they look official. I’m glad I have the practice though because my papers look like the white out monster attacked them- wow deleting a document and adding new numbers is so much more efficient than making friends with white out. I’ll try not to complain about the computerized public school systems in the US ever again, I have no problem sitting in front of a computer and inputting grades- bring it on!
Last night I had the best meal I have had in Cameroon. Lets talk food- Normally because my mother here has recognized that I am turning veggie and I’m super scared of their fish, she gives me veggies or cous cous with crazy sauce. Well last night we had company and they made spaghetti with fried eggs and peimont (red peppery stuff) and it tasted like pad tai or asian noodles. I ate so much that I was up all night trying not to die. My stomache has shrank quite a bit and I ate 3 bowls of this stuff. My family kept commenting that they’d never seen me eat so much and all of these crazy things! I’m not sure how it rivals the awesome sandwiches I have been making but I’ll tell you what- I’ll be making this at post, and I might add a bit of peanut sauce!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Everybody was Dancing

You have to love Africa on Sunday morning. Everyone is going to church and they are all in their best clothes and the kids take off their shirts with the holes in them and their broken shoes and wear their one nice outfit and they all go to church. Somehow they all sit for 3 hours and listen to a very long sermon and sing and dance their hearts out. And me, I get up early and I go for a run. Often in the mornings it is lightly raining and I put on my trail running Nikes and I take off. I run to the football field which is really just a dirt clearing and I run laps and then I run up and down the hilly paved roads of Bangangte. It’s crazy because the people here all look in wonder, some look at my shoes and say in confirmation, “tu fais le sport?” “You are doing the sports?” They really like to point out the obvious here it sorta cracks me up and sometimes it makes me really annoyed. For instance, last week when I was washing my clothes my host cousin who has been living with us for a few weeks sat down and watched me and even took a picture of me saying, “Tu laves” yes I wash, its pretty amazing to see a white woman doing work I guess.

Anyway this morning was fabulous because I think I got some of my frustration out by taking my run. Its also great because the power and water are back on. Yesterday I used all of my computer battery on writing lesson plans and the final exam for the 6eme class I’m teaching but I really wanted to watch episodes of Alias. Have you seen that show? It’s awesome and I didn’t even like Jennifer Garner, but I do now! Go check it out, the pilot is amazing. Anyway, yesterday was also pretty sweet because I had my final test in French which determines if I am qualified to be a volunteer or if I have to stay behind for two weeks for more training (this would suck because I’d have no down time to move into my house before school starts and I wouldn’t be able to go to the cool parties we are going to have after swearing in). But my test went pretty well and I’m pretty sure I’ll go up one level and be able to move to my site with everyone else. Then later on Saturday we made chicken and onion rings! Oh yeah. I’ve taken to being one of the top chefs here in Bangangte because I like to feel useful. Also I’ve really stopped drinking a lot here and since most people are drinking beer and chit chatting during our Saturday soirees I feel like I am more useful in the kitchen. So I took over the onion ring duties and by the end of the night I was saturated with the onion smell, all of my clothes reeked of onions, but let me say- they were delicious. Another interesting change that I have encountered is that I think I’m going vegetarian. I’ve said this before but I thought back on it and I haven’t had a piece of meat (with the exception of 1 piece of chicken 4 weeks ago and maybe a piece or two of ham on a pizza I split with someone) for about 2 months. Yesterday we paid two local kids to kill 5 chickens for us and piece them and help us get them to unrecognizable pieces that we could eat. Let me just say- if you were there you wouldn’t eat it either. I have a picture and I’ll try to upload it and you can decide if you can identify the different body parts of our former farm friends.

So this week was a bit hard because we all received our instructions to go to site because we only have three weeks left of stage. Here’s what that means. In three weeks I say goodbye to the best friends I’ve made here who are going to Adamowa (the northern center province) and the North West ( on the coast of Africa- couldn’t be farther than me) and the the Extreme North (By Chad and in the hot section of Cameroon). Evidentally I thought it was a good idea to make friends with people who I will never see again. I feel like the last 6 months of my life have been spent saying good bye to people, and I get to do it again. Also, I’ve come to really love stage, and bangangte, and I have found a routine here that I love. I really enjoy teaching at the Model school and my host family, though sometimes loud and insane, are truly supportive and the most chill of all the host families. I am going to be very sad to say good bye to this part of my PC life. Also, I have much trepidation about my site, but I finally got the number to my post mate so I hope to ask her a ton of questions so my transition will be easier. It is going to be a little shocking to move to such a small town where Rachel and I are the only white people who speak English. We just had a meeting on diversity where we talked about how you don’t think you are diverse when you are a white female in America, but here I make up about .01% of the population. But I am trying not to dwell on the things I can’t control so I have created a list of things I’m excited about at my post:

1. Cooking for myself finally

2. Planting a garden

3. Having my own house with no roommates!

4. Really being immersed in French

5. I stole a ton of movies from my friends who burned them on their computer so I have those to watch.

6. I have internet on my computer now so I know I can be in touch with the people I love anytime

7. Reading! I plan on reading tons of books

8. Writing a play or two

9. Teaching at my new school and starting a theater club

10. Going to Batouri for Thanksgiving

Well that’s a far as I got, but it’s all good stuff to look forward to. If you want to get on Aim and chat for a while because you don’t have money for a phone card email me and let me know what day and time are good- remember it’s an 8 hour difference, but I really want to chat with you kids. I love you all I will write again soon!