Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Weekend update

happy Birthday Jaime! My reso has been down so my phone works half of the time and doesnt have a signal the othe rhalf, but finally I was able to get on the net! I love you darling and I hope your day was fabulous! Wish I was with you.

This was an interesting weekend, and by interesting I mean pretty freakin awesome! I had a really bad day on Thursday because it was the president’s anniversary of getting inaugurated the first time (he’s been president for like 20 odd years) but they decided to still have class because we were going to have a fete Wednesday night but the power went out so they figured the kids wouldn’t be tired so we’d have class. Well the kids were insane and I’ve never seen them so unruly it was like a mob not a class of students. Well I went home and had a few drinks because sometimes you need to relax after such a crappy day. Well I get a text message from my friend whose birthday was Friday the 7th. She said they were going to do a lot of fun things in Batouri and she wished I could be there. So, not having anything to do on Friday and being insane (because it would mean traveling for about 8 hours in crappy Cameroonian conditions to be in Batouri for a day) I decided to go. I left the next morning and gave my very silly present to Lisa. Then we made omelets and took a long bike ride into the forest where there is this amazing rock formation that is like a mountain. We climbed up it and you could see the whole countryside. It was very cool and really beautiful, I have pictures and one day I’ll try to upload them. Then we raced back to her house because we were trying to beat this storm and we were GOING SWIMMING. That’s right folks, swimming! We changed into our bathing suits and let me tell you that was a weird feeling because we dress so modestly here that I haven’t showed that much skin in a long time.
So there is this ex-pat and former volunteer named Ben who works for a Tobacco company in Batouri and he has this house that has an above ground pool with chorine and no creepy diseases and its amazing. We got to his house and met his pet monkey who was very friendly and enjoys climbing on people’s heads! Next, we made a whirl pool and swam for about an hour or so and it was awesome. I’m an Aquarius so I love to swim! Then Ben, who used to manage a ton of restaurants, made us this amazing pizza because he has an oven! We ate two kinds of pizza- with real cheese! It was an amazing day and we stayed up very late talking about all manner of things nad drinking good wine- from a bottle not a box! It was really great and Ben has had quite the life so it was fun to learn about that too. I left at 5:30am the next day because I had stuff to do in lele and unfortanuetly got a bit sick and I’m feeling a bit better now. I have had a fever since I got back but it broke last night as I was trying to sleep but was listening to this huge storm with the loudest thunder I’ve ever heard! Anyway, it was a great day.
Happy Birthday Lisa!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Traveling, and Minoing

Blog: October 31st

Wow, have I got an update for you folks! It’s been one heck of a week and I am in very high spirits. Its funny how you realize how alike your parents you really are. For instance, I knew I had this big trip to go to the provincial capitol of Bertoua and meet up with the other volunteer of the east and talk about business, but some of the anticipation for weeks was the best part. I packed and unpacked my suitcase. I made a Halloween costume from scratch, and I got new clothes from the tailor. I even made travel tortillas for when we got hungry and saved my last pack of gum to share with the Americans who would appreciate it. My dad taught me that half of the fun of a vacation is looking forward to it and researching, so I did and it was great, except it turns out the actual meeting was just as fun as the planning, even more so! So here’s what we did.

I left Thursday morning with my postmate to Batouri where my close friends live (about 5 hours away). It’s rainy season so the roads are horrible, you wouldn’t think it was possible for a bus to get through some of these potholes (I’m not sure that’s what we can call them though because they are so massive- lets go with craters). Well one crater was so big that when we went through water actually came up through the floor of the car, which is pretty crazy! So we got into Batouri at a good time and I ate waffles, and homemade yogurt and a very cold Sprite. There is the Catholic mission who has a waffle maker and we always go there to eat, and I’ve never really seen anyone else in there, but I’ll tell you, its heaven. Next we went to the bank and finally picked up some more money so I could go shopping and buy exciting ‘white people food’ as the locals call it. I got food such as Ketchup, sweet corn, and laughing cow cheese. Then we had dinner at my friend Mattie’s house, we had Senegalese rice, which is sorta like rice with a tomatoey sauce. The next day we traveled to Bertoua and the road was a lot better. We had 5 people in the bus and we created quite the stir because people don’t see that many white people together everyday. Every baby in the car starred. We were also talking really loud in English like giddy school kids on a fieldtrip (which is sorta what we were). We even tracked our progress on my friend Mattie’s GPS (he personally designed a map for Cameron because there weren’t any existing ones that were cheap). Next, we arrived in Bertoua where we were staying at the Peace Corps Leader’s house, she is actually the girl that lived in my house and had my post before me so we had a lot to talk about. We came in and saw CNN on the television and got super excited, about television and American television no less. She also has Discovery channel so we watched animal shows for quite a while. Then, I was lead into the back room where in a huge pile I found 6 packages all for me. Christmas came early folks! I want to thank my mom, Jaime, Chiggie, and both my grandmas for sending me such great stuff! People laughed atme as I got teary looking at Jaime’s package and all my letters. I also ended up sharing a lot of food with people because there’s nothing like Americans to appreciate why ranch sauce or Starbursts are so good.

The next day was our meeting where we all give reports on what we are doing and discuss a possible project for the whole province to participate in. A lot of people wanted to go to the most remote village in the region and do a sort of workshop so we could teach about health and whatever else we could fit in. I proposed an idea where all the schools have there students create an artistic impression of how they view themselves and their local trips. I though we could pick a theme and then compile a book or a slideshow to show in the capitol as a representation and expression of who the East is. It’s a sort of undefined idea but I hope that we try it, I was the only one pushing an artisitic idea and people where a little hesitant but some people thought it was cool. Later that night I went to the market and shopped for our dinner which was for 16 people. I ended up making tacos with beans, Spanish rice, and tons of tortillas. The tortilla crew which I was a part of, worked for about an hour and twenty minutes and made about 60 tortillas or so, I was pretty proud of us! Then had our party for Halloween! My friend was a hick because she found overalls at the local Frippery (or goodwill sorta), one guy was a moto driver (taxis here are just motorcycles and the drivers all look like they are dressed up for winter because of the wind I guess, and they have numbers on their chest), three people decided to be beer girls for the beers (there are about 4 kinds you can get anywhere- Castel, 33 trente-trois, Mutzig, and Guiness). And of course there was me, I dressed up like an add for condoms. I made a shirt with the local brand of condoms- Prudence and made this huge graduation type hate that looked like the packaging. I figured since we are all out here to promote AIDS prevention, why not be blunt about it! It was pretty funny and I think I won the contest because everyone kept taking pictures of me. We then got changed and went out to the dance club. Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be a celebrity? Just be white and come to Africa! We showed up and they let us in for a discounted price and gave us two bottles of whiskey and played American music for almost 2 hours (which is pretty unheard of- but we out numbered the locals so I guess it was a smart call). We danced our buns off and I ended up dancing with one of the other volunteers friends who she works with and he was an amazing dancer. We salsaed and swing danced, and everyother type I can think of. It was a great night and not one I’ll forget soon. We ended up going home and talking and joking around until early morning.

The next day was another travel day and when I got back to Batouri I found out I had to stay for two more days for a teaching conference that no one told me about. I got to hang out with my friends for even more time and it was awesome. I ended up getting home Wednesday night carrying a ridiculously large bag full of my new treasures! I just set up my kitchen and it looks like I went to America and not Bertoua! I also spent last night eating tuna on crackers and having raviolis that I found at a ‘white man store” in Bertoua! The only problem with the trip was that its going to be really hard to get back into the working groove. It was great to speak English and be around people who get you! It defiantly didn’t help my French, but I’ve got time to get better and I’m surviving. I hope you are all well and are feeling optimistic about the upcoming election! Love you all and miss you!


Addition: So I got my cat, my very own little ball of joy. She’s super small and we are not sure is she should even be away from her mother yet, but the people that had her were not nice to her, it would seem that s got bleach poured on her, or she got into some bleach, and she’s so young she doesn’t eve make a meow song, instead its like a half meow. Anyway, last night we started to get to know each other and she ended up peeing on me and puking on me through out the night. I do not think we will continue to be bedfellows! She is super cute though and she keeps me company which is good. They don't say meow here when they are talking about cat noises, they say meeno- its pretty cute. Oh and I found a leech in my bathroom! Oh Africa!