Sunday, February 17, 2013

Mile 24 of a Marathon


It seems that I start all my blogs apologizing for not updating in a while, but this time has just been hard. I’ve been busy working, travelling, getting sick and more working. So there hasn’t been a lot of time to sit down and write a new post. Also the electricity at my post has not been too great as of late. Well enough with the excuses on to the blog.

I went on vacation for Christmas break to the Extreme North again. It was nice to see that area again and see the differences between the regions of Cameroon, which really is “Africa in miniature.” I started my vacation going to visit my friend Christine to see her post in the West Adamaoua. Volunteers there are often over looked since it takes 12 hours in either direction for them to do their banking. It is a lot different than the East Adamaoua even though they are in the same region technically. What makes it different is that it is near the Northwest region which is Anglophone so there is some Anglophone influence as well as the Northern influence. Her village, Mayo Darle, has to be one of my favorite villages I have seen so far in Cameroon. It was scenic, the people were very nice and polite and welcoming.

We went on a hike to visit a waterfall near her village which we have come to see as cursed. This was Christine’s second time going to the waterfall and the first time her dog fell off the waterfall, luckily he is ok. And the second time I got stung my hornets, which hurt a lot. Luckily we were carrying an ice pack, which is a miracle, considering there is no electricity in her village. So the ice pack helped a lot. Unfortunately my arm still swelled up and turned a frightening purple color, but in the end everything was fine, my arm is still there and returned to normal size.

After Mayo Darle, we went on a 12 hour bus ride on an unpaved road. It was an experience involving 3 flat tires and stops for prayer. But luckily we made in one piece although we were turned an interesting shade of orange from all the dust.

I went to visit my friend Melissa and stayed with her at her post in the regional capital of the North, Garoua, for Christmas Eve. She made homemade lasagna and we had a real bottle of wine, which is a luxury here, especially on our salary. It was a nice calm evening and even though we are in Africa and away from our families it still nice. On Christmas Day I traveled to a village in the Extreme North where a volunteer was hosting a party for volunteers. There were about 10 volunteers together and we cooked dinner and celebrated. A Christmas tree was even involved!

After the New Year I went back down south to go to my post. Unfortunately right when I got back to post I fell sick. Which was unfortunate because I had to travel again to do a “collaboration” project with another volunteer. He has just installed a well at his school and wanted to teach his students proper sanitation practices. So I travelled to Dschang, again, but unfortunately he had to cancel it since his project had run out of money. Even more unfortunately is on my way back to post I got stuck in Yaoundé on medical hold since I had gotten malaria… January was definitely a month of illness for me.

Luckily I made it back in time for Bilingualism Week. Which turned out well considering I set the whole thing up. This year my principal wanted to have our own celebration for Bilingualism week and not celebrate with the other high school, which meant that as the sole English teacher at my school I had to set up the whole thing. I think that it went pretty well. A lot of students wanted to participate and they were all rewarded at the end with notebooks and pens, just a small token to show that  I appreciated all of their hard work.
I had to go back to Yaoundé for the VAC meeting, which was perfect timing since  I was invited to a colleagues wedding in Yaoundé. The wedding took place in a village just outside of Yaoundé. It was weird, there were no paved roads at all in the village and even though it was only a 40 cent moto ride away from Yaoundé it felt like I was en brousse. The actual wedding ceremony was interesting since two couples got married at the same time. I asked my colleague why that was but he explained that it was cheaper. Which is great since weddings here are expensive compared to their salaries. Apparently the trend is to make them more like “Western” weddings which is unfortunate since they are costly and people here don’t really have the ability to pay for such luxuries.

During the ceremony the priest spoke mostly in the local dialect which was interesting to hear even though I could only understand one word of it! Normally I don’t hear a lot of people speaking in their local dialect, or at least not for long extended periods of time, mainly only greetings. A lot of Cameroonians are complaining about the loss of the local dialect. After the wedding we went to the house where the reception was being held and waited and waited. Here in Cameroon the couples like to go take pictures out and about in town while the guests wait for them to come. I think we waited about 4 hours. I don’t know if I liked that custom. After they finally arrived the wife’s family welcomed the couple in the middle of the street with singing and throwing chickens into the air (don’t worry I videotaped the whole thing). Once they finally arrived we started eating and unfortunately I had to leave soon after since it was getting late and I had a curfew. But I will say that the reception is very much like an American wedding reception, lots of eating, drinking, and dancing.

Another difference is that everyone invited to the wedding generally buys the “wedding fabric” that the couple chooses and then gets an outfit made. This made a lot of sense especially considering that there were two couples at the wedding, it made it easier to tell which couple you were there for!

And since I am too lazy to write anymore, here are some pictures to hopefully tied you over until my flu is over =)

Monkey that a student caught at my school. A putty nose mona, don't worry they are not endangered.

Kids dancing at the reception

The couple walking towards the reception


The wife's family waiting to receive the couple

Myself and 2 colleagues at the reception

My main moto driver to Bertoua, Aime, wearing his new vest for the Association

My colleagues and I at the Parade for Youth Day

Justine and I

This was at the club, yes that is the Peace Corps symbol. =) Goal 2!

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