Friday, February 20, 2009


You know you are a Peace Corps Volunteer in Cameroon Living in the Bush When…
My friend Sioban did one of these and I thought it was awesome so I thought I’d do one
• You haven’t looked in a mirror in a week
• You wake up to the sound of barn animals or people playing drums at 5 in the morning
• You can’t tell if your feet are tan or really dirty
• You change colors when you travel
• You respond to “WHITE” and “STRANGER”
• Your automatic response to “How are you” is “Fine thank you and you”
• You have a sheet covering your front door as a ‘screen’ for bugs
• You can tell how hot it is by how many times you have to fill your filter
• You stand by your light switch turning it on and off until that fabulous moment when it actually works
• You only own Blue and Red pens- and they are really crappy
• You live in flip flops and have a formal pair, a house pair, and an outside pair
• You call an omelet dinner
• You call an omelet respectable meat of a sandwich
• Your eggs come with feathers on them
• You can only choose between three types of beer
• You know the jingle to “BBC Africa”
• Your neighbor has a monkey
• You have swept what remains of a mouse out of your front door
• You clean with a squeegee
• You read books like they are going out of style
• Every time someone calls you they hang up after one ring
• You speak in Franglish to other volunteers
• You have cob webs in your house and they don’t bother you at all
• You shoo an animal away by yelling “shh” and waving your hand back and forth
• You wear mou mous
• You think cheese doesn’t need to be refrigerated
• Cold water is a luxery like fine wine or champagne
• You have vivid dreams about Taco Bell or shopping at Krogers
• You are given fruit as a present
• You gawk and stare when you see other white people
• Your ipod has become more dear to you than some family members
• Extravagant purchases include: canned soda, pizza, and cheese
• You have mosquito bites in unspeakable places
• Every time you get sick you assume its Malaria
• Everyone in village knows when you have bought toilet paper
• Your pack of gum becomes soggy and unchewable after one day
• You miss your family and friends so much you find yourself writing a blog!

I also promised to give you a break down of what our Soiree Cultural actually consisted of and so here we go. To begin we waited two and a half hours to start until it was dark and all the kids were almost sleeping. All of the functionaries of the village got to sit down while all the kids stood in a big square around the ‘stage’ which is sorta a glorified gazebo. Students are employed to keep the order and keep students behind invisible lines by using switches made of sticks. The performances begin by singing the national anthem, which I have come to really love and know the words to…well mostly. Then students start doing dances- some are just them standing in the same place for large amounts of time doing simultaneous hand movements while someone in the middle lip sings. They love to lip sing here! Then a group of small kids come out and dance with hoola hoops (which they only use as Fred Astaire used his cane and sometimes swing around their arms) very odd. Another performance was of a guy singing a love song to a girl and him eventually winning her over and then they began grinding on each other- not something a teacher wants to watch her young students doing. There were a few that were done by older students that were originally written comedy sketches which were actually really funny. One was about old men getting drunk and their wives beating them, one was about a guy trying to hit on a girl but she wouldn’t go for him until he brought a wad of money out, and one was about a guy trying to get up the courage to sit next to a girl on a bench and while he was turned away another guy arrives and goes to sit down next to her, and while both of them weren’t looking the girl leaves and then end up both turning to each other leaning in for a kiss and realize it was a guy. They loved this one! The ecole Bilingue did a song about Malaria where the words went like this: Malaria, Malaria, is a very bad sick. They pretty much just repeated this over and over again and then sang it in French so that everyone understood. Other highlights include the fact that students are wondering around selling whiskey sachets and bubble gum. Rachel has given the guy running the music American music and every time it comes on people look terribly confused. The backdrop to the ‘stage’ is three different sheets pinned on a rope, and one of the girls almost lost her skirt during her rhythmic but bouncing . So that was pretty much awesome and lasted until 12:30 at night.
This week has been really quiet, but good. The English inspector of the East came and watched me teach and had some really nice things to say and we had a really productive conversation. I have been rethinking the way I am teaching and have given two very good lessons that make me excited about teaching again. Still haven’t seen my cat, and running low on books but everything else is going great. Big Congratulations to my brother and I love you all!


Saturday, February 14, 2009

I'm back!

Happy Single Awareness Day
All of you Cynics out there will be happy to know that Africa is not all crazy about Valentine’s day the way we are. There are on awkward greeting cards with glitter or fattening candy. Instead they use it as an excuse to bother all of the women they shouldn’t into asking who their valentine is and if you would be theirs. After you remind them that they have a wife, they seem to be surprised that you remember. Today I had a very lovely day, I stayed in all day reading and then went to a group that I am a member of where we sat around for 3 hours doing I don’t know what and then ate food. Then the electricity came on and I tried to leave early. I then practiced the skill that I feel I will never conquer, walking at the pace of Cameroonians. Not only am I a fast walker but I think I’m a bit of a show-off in the fast walking region. I think it all started when my long legged father and I used to walk quickly to the rides in Disneyland and make fun of my older brother for not keeping up. Ethan has the mentality to do the Cameroonian Amble because he likes to enjoy the moment and doesn’t rush through life. I just want to get home to the electricity and put these thoughts down on paper before I forget them.
So what has happened to me since I last wrote? I took a week long trip to Yaounde where I had a meeting for the Education Committee. I very much enjoyed the meeting where we discussed how to better the training process as well as the handbook we give to people, I felt I had a lot to say, but part of me felt a little silly because I am struggling in a lot of these areas and its easy to write down what new volunteers should do but I can attest to a lot of these things not really working. While I was in Yaounde I was a part of a beverage pong tournament (which I won one game not because I’m a good player but that my partner was a frat guy). I was also apart of the first annual Education Committee and Birthday celebration gala bash. My friends made a big quiche and a cake and gave out silly awards for everyone. The quiche was excellent and I’m going to have to finally side with Chad in saying its one of the superior foods in our world. I then got a lot of provisions so I could have a taste of the foods I love such as pretzels, crackers, roman, and canned raviolios. Then I was back on my way to Ndelele. After traveling from 5:00am to 2pm to Bertoua on my birthday I arrived feeling dirty and very smooched from the traveling. I took a long nap and woke up to a dinner of Falafal, pita, hummas, and roasted vegetable pasta salad. It was a fabulous meal and we ended by watching the movie Slumdog Millionaire which is fabulous and you should watch it.
I then woke up early the next morning and traveled to Batouri where my friends gave me some new pagne for my birthday (very pretty purple and yellow fabric) and then I finally got back to Ndelele. Let me tell you, after traveling for about a week straight in some of the most uncomfortable positions, I was not in the best mood when I got home. I also found out that our power was going to be out for quite a while and then I got here and there was no working telephone reception until today! Well it’s been fun reading and stuff and this has been a really exciting week because it was the Youth week where students have time off school and they do performances and dances and have a parade. I find myself having mixed feelings about the ceremonies. Like all meetings or ceremonies they have here they always start late and normally the children are the ones suffering in the sun or in this case rain. Also I thought some of the dances and performances were not suitable for young children to be performing. I will write more on this later when I’m not worried that the current will go out soon. One sad occurrence was that I was out at one of the activities for Youth Day which was supposed to start at 7pm but really started at 10 and lasted until 12:30am, and when I got home my cat must have snuck out the door as I was closing it and she disappeared. IT’s been about 4 days now and I’m pretty sure someone either ate her during the festivities or killed her somehow and didn’t want to tell me. I’m very sad and my house is terribly quiet now instead of a cat woman I’m a creepy woman who talks to herself. Anyway, I went for a long bike ride yesterday to raise my spirits and evidentally I was supposed to find the allusive Kaidie (totally not how you spell that) river and was again thwarted by the jungle and got a bit lost and a bit dirty because it had rained previously. So maybe oen day my long bike rides will end in success. I also prepared mashed potatoes, samosas, and macaroni salad for our meeting of the professors and people seemed to like that. So even with out reception or power it is possible to enjoy life., though sometimes it feels like I live in Brigadoon a comparison that I find really sums up the feeling of being so isolated and yet sort of enjoying it. But oh where is my Gene Kelly on this fine Valentine’s Day?
Love you all and miss you terribly,