Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Still Going Strong

One Year Anniversary!

Well I can’t believe that it’s finally here, my one year anniversary of being in country! It is a little surreal, sometimes it feels as if I’ve been here for 10 years, other times I feel like I’ve only been here for a month. I have read over 60 books and have watched way too much TV/Movies from  my external hard drive.  I’ve gotten used to things that I never thought was possible, such as spiders. I’ve learned a lot about Cameroon, but even more so about myself since I’ve been here, such as how to be more assertive and stand up for myself. I have also discovered that I will NEVER want to be a celebrity, I could not cope with the constant lack of privacy for so long.

For our one year anniversary, myself and a couple of friends went to a World Cup Qualifying game, Cameroon vs the DRC. It was a great time and was a great end to an awesome year in Cameroon. Our first day in Cameroon, we weren’t allowed to go to a game, so it was great to actually have the chance to go this time. Even better was that Cameroon won! One to nothing!

As one year of my two year contract is over, I have started thinking about the future. I’ve already looked into grad schools and found 3 really great programs. So this summer in between helping out at training, travelling to Ethiopia and around Cameroon, I hope to start working on my applications for grad school.
Two Week Vacation!

After spending over two weeks in Yaoundé I decided to take a little break and visit some friends. I started by going to Buea, in the Southwest, to stay with my friend Nate. It worked out perfectly since Sam was flying out of Douala and wanted to stay in Buea before her flight. Buea was really great! Especially since Buea is only 30 minutes away from the beach!! Sam and I went to the beach one day and we were literally the only people there. It was fantastic! It was great to be away from all of the noise of the city and just be able to relax for a bit.

After Buea, I went to visit Sean’s post, but in order to get there I had to take what everyone says is “the Worst Road in Cameroon.” Let me tell you it wasn’t THAT bad. It was really funny though because there were 8 people in this car which is smaller than a Camry. Four in the front and four in the back. You might think how is that possible, but like I said, physics don’t apply within the Cameroonian borders. But what was amusing was the fact that 5 Cameroonian adult men were all complaining, about the car, about the road, about EVERYTHING. While I was just sitting there accepting my fate. I never thought there would be a time where a Cameroonian would complain more than myself! (I think again that just is a good marker of time)

Sean’s post, Ossing, is also in the Southwest and it is very similar to mine. They are both in the jungle, although Sean’s post is a little bit more hilly. I really enjoy getting to go to people’s villages, to see what they do on a day to day basis, meet everyone they talk about. It’s a way to get a glimpse into their village life, which at times can be different than our city or Yaoundé life. I think the highlight of my trip in Ossing was going on a 7 hour trek in the rainforest with Sean and his friend Alphonse. The goal of our trek was to see the bones of two elephants who were killed two months ago for bush meat, which was unfortunate.(The hunters got about 120,000 CFA for each elephant, which is about 240$, for a forest elephant)  It was a little difficult trying to get to the Elephant graveyard, which is what we named the place, because we had to cross some 14 streams and 1 giant river. But it was a great time, especially since I had never had a chance to go on a trek through the jungle before.

After hanging out in Ossing, I went to Mamfe, only about 40 minutes away on a motorcycle from Ossing. There Sean, Renee, and I had dinner with the ex-mayor of Mamfe. His house was amazing, even by American standards. It overlooks the Cross River with the jungle all around it, very picturesque! He is actually building a pool now, maybe I’ll go back when it’s finished =)

In order to go back to to Yaoundé, I decided to go through Bamenda, the capital of the Northwest region, since I had never been there. It was interesting because everyone in the Peace Corps talks about how nice Bamenda is, but I didn’t really like it that much. I think I am more used to village life than living in a city, going back to America might be a little difficult =) It was a nice city, in the highlands of Cameroon and since it is rainy season there are waterfalls all around that you can see.

Finally in the beginning of June I went back to post because I had a couple of meetings that I couldn’t miss and it was nice to be back. Unfortunately I was only back for a week, but my Hibiscus wine was a success (I was letting it ferment while I was away). My meetings went well, I already know what classes I will be teaching next year and my class schedule. I am teaching one more class this year, but it will be the Seconde class that I had this year who were promoted into the Premiere class (Junior level equivalent). All my other classes are staying the same. But the best news is that I will have Thursdays and Fridays off, which means I will be able to travel more.  

So things are going pretty well now and I am really excited for this summer! Sean and I decided to extend our trip, so we will be in Ethiopia for 31 days now. Which is essentially all of our vacation time for our 2 years here, but I think it’ll be worth it!