Saturday, February 6, 2010

Little Story to get your day started

Greetings from Bertoua
I am back in town after going to Yaounde for the week because I had a meeting for Peer Support Network. It was a really good time. But now I'm back home for my birthday which I think I prefer. So far I have spent most of the day watching movies (Funny People) and rereading my book (Chig gave me it, its about a girl whose half vampire/half werewolf). I'm also currently listening to the new Nora Jones, its makes my feet tap. The ladies are cooking up some food for dinner and the crust to my cake is making the house smell good and kinda radiate with heat, but we'll forgive the oven this one time. I thought now might be a good time to shirk my work responsibilities and to type up an entry I wrote yesterday while waiting for the Bilingualism Day celebration to start. I not only impressed everyone with how much I could write but also how good my pen was (thanks mom). So here we go:

A couple of weeks ago I went with my counterpart, Bertha, to Giwi Yogamo to present our formation on teaching English with songs. It is a small village on the paved road North of Bertoua. We left very early at 5am and arrived at 7:30am. Many of our colleagues had chosen to stay the night at an Auberge- really about 9 rooms that look like closets. Since we arrived early we were ushered into the room of a colleague where we awkwardly sat on the bed ans starred at the wall while listening to the other inspector sing in while taking his bucket bath, which he was having in the shared bathhouse just next to us. Nothings too awkward for Africa

After this we were brought to the principal's house where we were served our choice of a beer or a coke. One of the inspectors took a large beer- note that he was presenting before us so everyone had to wait while he took 30 minutes to drink his beer and chat with me. He has very wiley eyes and essentially flirted with me all morning. Did I mention that he is about 5'6" and 50stomething with at least 1 wife and 7 kids? Nice. Then we are told to wait for an hour while he finishes his presentation and we can start. At this time the chief of the group sends in the only Anglophone in town. I'm not sure if she was meant to entertain us like a court jester, but she was a young teacher and seemed a little nervous. This was the time when, powered by all of that caffeine no doubt, my counterpart decides to give the poor girl an hour lecture about the problems between Anglophones nad Francophones. She continues to explain that Anglophones suffer in the East because n one has respect for them and resents them. Then she talks about the crap school system, the whole time the poor girl looks like she thinks she's being accused of something.

As this is going on, I am looking out the door which gives ma perfect rectangle's view of the women outside preparing for the coffee break and lunch for the conference. They are frying plantains and cleaning fish and its nice to watch their domesticity in full swing. However, as I'm watching one of their sons comes by holding a chicken and searching for a knife. I know what will happen next. I lived in village for a year. The goby grabs a dull knife and literally standing perfectly framed by the door, I watch as he saws at its neck. So the knives here are never sharp enough and the kid has to stop on the bird's wings and saw away. I get to watch the death of the chicken and then watch it run about as it's head is not all off and the boy accidentally freed its wings. As this is going on I decide to find the latrine where I can get away from the slaughter.

A nice woman points the way for me and I go into the small enclosure and get into position and then a parade of children begin to walk in on me. I am squatiing down in all my pagune and my aura of authority and one girl just comes into the latrine adn talkes to me while I'm peeing. I guess talking to the white women is anovelty anywhere- even the latrine. Finally, we go into the classroom and are greeted by about 70 teachers and proceed to give our workshops. Our presentations lasts until about 4. It goes very well, at this point Bertha and I work crazy well together.

We decide to take a taxi home instead of a bus because it'll be quicker seeing as how they drive faster and don't unload as much baggage. The y put me in the front seat because I am not used to being smooshed evidentially because I'm white. Now these cars are about as big as a Geo Metro, but my chauffeur fits 5 ppl in the backseat, then my counterpart sits next to me int eh front seat. Then he stopped again to pick up two more people. He puts one in the trunk where he sits on piles of manioc. The other gets into the driver's side and sits on the drivers seat, and the driver gets in and begins to drive. Now there are 4 ppl in the front, 5 ppl in the back, and one in the trunk. The driver then proceeds to drive at light speed on the windy road dodging animals and honking at children. The whole experience was sereal, but we did get to town in about 1 hr 45 minutes as opposed to 2h30 minutes, I was impressed.

Well anyway, that's all for me recapping stories I thought you'd enjoy. Please don't feel bad for me for being in Africa on my birthday, honestly I'm having a great time. In Yaounde I got to eat a hamburger, mac and cheese, ramen, a cheese sandwich and egg rolls, and chicken. I'm not complaining. Someone even bought champagne! I love you all and wish I could see you today! Big party in 5 months!