Sunday, August 29, 2010

Move to Post

Here in Cameroon I no longer write from Bafia. Training is over! The day after we officially swore in as Peace Corps Volunteers I began the move out East. Those going to the East and North left together to Yaounde. While those going north caught the train that afternoon, us Easties spent the night in a communal dormitory style house the PC has for us volunteers. The next day they drove us, all six of us and our immense baggage including bikes, to the bus station. There was a bit of trepidation on our part remembering all what happpened during our site visit, but all went fairly well. Highlights were a man directly in front of Liz going into an epileptic seizure and me being sold a raw egg instead of a hard-boiled one that I cracked open all over myself.

We arrived in Bertoua too late on Friday to go to the bank too pull out our money, so staying for the weekend was the only option. This turned out to be for the best. Us six new volunteers got in alot of good bonding time. There are only nine volunteers in the East. The other three were all there the second night and we all went out for a delicious fish dinner. It's was weird to see that where other regions in Cameroon have 20/30+ people us Easties can be all seated together all around one table. The rest of the weekend was passed with a Glee marathon, lots of walking around, visiting Pati's house, fish dinners, eating beans and beignets from a road-side stand, etc. Monday our big accomplishment was the bank. One in America might not see this as a days accomplishment, but in Africa it can be. Picking up an ATM card, receiving its pin, and drawing out money all required three different lines. Between all six of us working all different lines, the wait was just under 3 hours. Who knew just waiting in line can take so much energy? Lesson in Africa you'll only need to learn one - always bring a book!

I was happy Tuesday to make my final move. Thankful to bring my guitar, but tired of lugging it everywhere. The bus ride left more to be desired. Its a three hour bus ride for 90 kilometres. It should really only take an hour or two, but because the roads are unpaved its three hours on a good day, possibly up to nine on a bad one. Jessica, Julia, and I were crammed in a row together with two other people. We had our backpacks with us and between the dust and sweat and loss of feelings in our legs caused by heavy backpacks we were thankful when our anglophone friend Jupiter showed up in Batouri when we arrived with his company's truck. Highlights for the night, buying a mattress and carrying it home on my head to the many teasing of others and coming home to find my house in complete disarray. Since it was last occuped, it had collected immense amounts of dust, cobwebs, etc. Ask me how much I missed home at that moment? ALOT!

Since Julia leaves further out east in Kenzou (another 3, 4 hour trip for 120 km)I wanted to take her to post to help set her up. Highlights from that trip include being one of only two white people in town (both girls nonetheless), trying out my less than stellar Fulfulde since there were people there that only spoke it and not French, finding food to make for dinner which included me breaking down and eating Sardines (!, not as bad as orignally thought and it was nice to eat a fish and not have to worry about bones) trying out a latrine, having electricity only from 6-10 pm at night, and killing a cockroach while bucket bathing. Julia is set up comfortably and will do a really good job there as an English teacher, that and learn to speak Fulfulde better than all of us!

So here I am back in Batouri. Nice to finally have internet after long abscense. My house in coming along slowly, but surely. My first day back I threw a lot away from the previous volunteer Trevor and dusted almost everything. Both electricity and running water were out the first couple days. It wasn't a bad experience bucket bathing by kerosene lamp. Today the entire inside was painted. Something so little does so much. The head of the bus company, Alliance, came several times during the day too make sure all went well for me with that. The accountant at my bank, Abdoulaye, is a muslim. He invited me & Jessica over to his house last night for dinner. He is a Muslim and during Ramadan they fast every day. They break their fast each night with beignets and this corn drink called bouille which we sipped out of bowls. Its late here and we are back on a generator here at my internet source since electricity is out yet again. I'm going to say adieu, but I am excited for the cultural and language integration to finally begin. Just need to get my house in a workable condition! Yep, life in Batouri has begun! :)