Friday, December 2, 2011

November: A Month in Review

Multiple people have told me I need to update and I apologize for the lack of them, but you know how it is living in a tiny village with no Internet, it’s not that easy to update. Plus with my computer screen broken, it makes writing a little bit more difficult. Luckily Justine’s parents are AWESOME and are bringing a new computer that I bought in a couple of weeks. So one less problem I have to deal with!

November has gone by incredibly fast! In fact I can’t believe that it’s already December, which coincidently marks my 6 months in Africa (Again how time flies!)

I guess I left you all on a cliffhanger. The kid who got sent to prison came back only two days later. Apparently they do that to scare them (whipping someone with a machete would do that to you no?). So no Tom, I don’t have to represent him!

At the end of October, Justine, Any (another volunteer in the East) and I travelled to Batori which is even further East and getting closer to the CAR border. The road there is 90KM of unpaved bumpiness. Justine and I made the mistake of sitting in the back and by the time we arrived I was a completely different color because I was covered in so much dust. (Luckily they have running water in Batori). After arriving the first thing we did was go eat waffles and frozen yogurt! It was really just yogurt that was frozen, but it was still pretty amazing! We were there for an engagement party of a volunteer to her Cameroonian boyfriend. The party was a lot of fun and the food was amazing (Thanks Janelle). Even though I was sick I still managed to enjoy the food! Unfortunately we all had to leave bright and early the next day so that we could make it back to our villages so we could teach on Monday.

The next week I got to meet the new volunteers, who are still in training but will posted in the East, they were on their site visit. There are 8 new volunteers in total while there are 8 old volunteers. So the new stage is doubling us! I couldn’t believe that they would place that many people out here, but I think it’s awesome because they understand that there is still a lot of room for development out here. It still amazes me that the East is the largest geographic region in Cameroon, but that there are so few PC volunteers out here.

All of the new volunteers all seem really nice and ready to work, so I think that they will be a great addition for out here! And I look forward to when they finally move to post, which will be in a couple of weeks.

On November 11th, Justine came to Dimako because it was my turn to host Amicale (still not sure what it is, but they argue a lot about money…). Since it was my turn I had to help prepare the food and I wanted to make snickerdoodles, unfortunately there wasn’t enough money in the budget for flour and all that so I didn’t get to make them. But I did make a Cameroonian dish and it turned out pretty well! All the teachers were surprised, I think they think that Americans can’t cook!

The next weekend I went to Diang to visit Justine’s village, it’s only fair that we trade off! We walked around a lot and visited her village, which is A LOT smaller than my own. On Saturday, some of her neighbors took us to a not even a village 5 KMs from Diang. This place was literally just a couple of houses. It is where her neighbor’s parents live and they wanted to meet me. They were very friendly and invited us in to eat. I was excited because it was my first time in a mud hut and I was a bit surprised by how nice it was. The furniture is nicer than the stuff in my house and looking around I saw a TV! Imagine my surprise!

On the walk to this village it was exactly what I imagined Africa would be like. It was so stereotypical Africa, it was pretty amazing. And walking around the other houses, everyone was so excited to talk to us and shake our hands. Someone even showed us how they make palm wine! On the walk back they bought us some sugar cane to eat and it is good! Everyone should try it at least once.

On Sunday before I left, one of Justine’s students braided my hair, apparently my hair is thinner than her hair and therefore more difficult to braid. But we all thought it turned out really well!

Some of you may be wondering how I Earth I spent Thanksgiving, the most American holiday, in Cameroon. Well all the volunteers in the East went to Batori where Janelle’s parents cooked dinner for us. Of course we helped, but it was as close to a Thanksgiving dinner one can get to in Africa. We had chicken (instead of turkey), stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce (which is good Mom!), avocado and tomato salad (which I made), a cabbage salad and for dessert brownies and banana cake. It was really feast and it was good!

We had dinner at an American’s house who stays in Batori every so often to look after one of his businesses in Cameroon. He lets some of the volunteers use the wifi and the kitchen ever now and then because it is a real honest to god American style kitchen with cabinets and everything! He also has a pool (an inflatable above ground pool, but a pool nonetheless!) so I got to go swimming before Thanksgiving.

On the school front, there was actually a new bilingual (meaning she can teach both French and English) teacher placed at my school. And my mom will be proud of me because I stood up for myself! She wanted to take the class of only 26 kids, but I stood up for myself! I told her that it didn’t make any sense, since I was in the middle of the sequence and was about to test them. So I gave her my class of 150 kids, haha. Which makes my life a whole lot easier! I would feel bad about it, but she tried to take the smallest class from me without even a discussion. Luckily I had already tested and graded that class so it made the most sense logistically.

Teaching is the same, some days are good, some aren’t so good. It’s a mixed bag, but I LOVE LOVE LOVE my girls club. I love working with them each week and seeing little light bulbs flash inside their heads when talking about things that are important. So that is what really keeps me through the week, that and my Secondes (sophomore class). If only all my classes could be 30 and under… A girl can dream right?

On my house front, the dreaded mouse is back. Fortunately my mom sent me a bunch of tins to keep him out (thanks mom!). So it isn’t so bad this time around. I am still waiting for a dining room table set, hopefully soon, in the next few months or so. I keep trying to put pictures up, but they just keep falling right back down. I am thinking super glue is my best bet!

The weather has finally changed; it is officially the dry season. The other day it was 130 degrees in the sun, which makes 106 sounds nice! But it gets down into the 60s at night, which means I am freezing and have goose bumps all over. I don’t think I will ever be able to live in France again. I actually don’t mind the heat that much anymore because it isn’t humid. But the dry season means that there is dust EVERYWHERE and it just covers you. But I like it more than the mud personally.

Well that’s it for now, I realize it’s the abridged version, but hopefully when I get my computer I will be able to keep my updates more regularly. Next week I go to Yaoundé (to get my foot looked at) and then it’s off to Limbe for In-Service Training, where everyone from my stage gets together and we get more training, Not looking forward to the training part, but I can get behind Limbe (it’s a beach town). Then I have 2 weeks off for Christmas, I still don’t know my plans but I will be in Yaoundé for New Year’s Eve with Justine and her parents. So hopefully I’ll be able to update once in a while during my break. But if not see you all next year and have a great Christmas!