Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Daily Grind

I myself am interested to know if I will ever be able to describe a typical day! Having gotten over initial frustrations, I am getting more comfortable with my life and the way of things in Batouri. However, no one day is the same. This as you can imagine presents many pros and cons. In training we often said that our day starts when we undo our mosquito nets to get out and ends when they are tucked in at night. During this time period it was definitely true as one of the first people we faced everyday was somebody from our host family, thus French in your face first thing in the morning. This still holds some truth as each day one doesn’t know what to expect. A morning can be great, but an afternoon horrible. Sometimes it even comes down to moments. It’s this constant fluctuation in which I find myself currently living. These are the days when I find myself continually saying, “well, just another day at post!” Here is just a little summary of Sunday February 6-Saturday the 12th, to give you some idea.

Sunday: 4 km outside of Batouri came across an unfortunate accident. Everyone was surrounding the back of a camion (large trucks that transport fuel, logs, etc.) so when I was able to get to it saw they were surrounding three people on a moto that the camion had just run over. Moto was disintegrated and the people died instantly. Sad to say that was first thing in the morning and that marked the rest of the day for me. Another volunteer from the East was in for a visit. We were shooken up about it, but I enjoyed having her for the rest of the day. We chilled, watched TV shows, had fish dinner, and went out for drinks.

Monday: Was up and ready for my first run ever here, but it decided to rain. After taking volunteer to the agence (place where you grab a "bus" when traveling), ran back home in the rain just to crawl into bed and go back to sleep. Spent the rest of the morning at my bank studying french. Spent few hours in afternoon at internet then grabbed some food at the market before heading home to make dinner. Highlight of the evening was talking to my dad for the first time since coming back from London.

Tuesday: Went running for the first time! Intended to spend day at bank, but went to get a sign painted for our girls club so they could use it for the upcoming youth day parade. The Minister for Small Economic Development called me over to his office. After chatting for a bit (not on projects as I had hoped), he took me out to lunch. Upon returning to the bank, found Abdoulaye the accountant and good friend on his way out to do errands. I asked him what he had to do and he said that the moto driver in the accident was his cousin and he was going out to gather death certificates for him to give to the insurance company of the camion (btw driver has yet to be found, he fled into the bush directly after it happened). He asked if i wanted to accompany him and I said yes. It was an interesting afternoon learning how information such as death certificates is gathered here and learned a bit on Muslim beliefs and practices as far as death is concerned. Broke into my cereal that I brought back from London. Its such a treat that here it has become dinner food :) So tired, into bed and asleep by 8:30.

Wednesday:Second day in a row giving it a go at running. En route to bank when I got a call by my anglophone friend Jupiter. Electricity was finally stable enough after being on and off repeatedly last couple days to be able to call a technician to install my satellite! Spent all morning get it hooked. It was a success, but only for a few minutes as electricity was cut again until evening. Went to girls club where this week we were watching 50 First Dates dubbed in french with english subtitles. Dinner at Jessica's was one of my favorites here in Cameroon, Cabbage and peanut sauce over rice.

Thursday: Arrival of rainy season will soon be upon us. Woke up in the middle of the night to a strong downpour. After 8 months in Cameroon, i'm finally starting to find rain on a tin roof somewhat calming and not something that keeps me up the whole night! Spent afternoon getting hair braided by girls in our girl club for youth day the next day. We are not all wearing the same clothes but they were very particular that all our hair be braided the same way. Mmmm, had our weekly dinner of bifteck again. Each thursday is bifteck night with postmates. Bifteck (steak in engligh) is cut up with tomatoes, sometimes peas, and mixed with some sauce/broth and of course this is African/Muslim cooking so the oil content must not be anything but alot! Oh and its served with a scoop of mayonnaise. Go figure. Add some good hot powder they make from dried peppers serve it with rice and call it a good meal. The owner where we eat the bifteck is a good friend, so he always gives us chai tea with it. Bifteck & Chai tea is a very muslim thing here.

Friday: Happy youth day! They love anything to celebrate here. Youth day is big as all the local schools come together to march in front of the local level of the government. Showed up at 8:30, however big mistake as I did not take Africa time into consider and thus waited 4 and 1/2 hours before parade actually started. We marched with girls club. We waited so long to literally walk 300 yards and everybody when they reached where the local authorities were sitting stuck out there right arm out to salute them. So much waiting for so little parading. But this being a fete day meant everybody was in town eating or drinking the rest of the day.
Spent the evening watching a movie with my postmate Jackie and our Cameroonian friend Jupiter. Also good thing about being a fete day, electricity was on the whole day! Popcorn with the possibility of a cold drink, something I don't take for granted anymore!

Saturday:Went for a run in the morning then lounged around as I partook in some TV time :) Good to feel connected with the world in some way. Hosted one of my Muslim woman neighbors Hadijatou at my place for a bit. Been making the effort to get to know more women! Electricity holding so was able to go for internet two days in a row! Since the American, Ed Nader, who owns a local tobacco company where I get my internet, was coming for a visit his employees cleaned his pool. So we take full advantage of that! After that continued with my goal of having more woman friends as I went to a friends house where the woman there showed me how to make eggs wrapped in beef. I have since gone back several times to get henna painted on my hands. They are teaching me a lot about hospitality, even invited me to Muslim wedding! Woman,if not in particular Muslim women, have turned out to be such gracious hosts.

So there is just one week in a nutshell. The days are always different and there are constant fluctuations and a roller coaster of emotions, but what I have learned most from my experience thus far is how important it is to face everyday with a positive attitude. I have lots I could be negative about, but the motto I have chosen to live by for my time here is that, "nothing works, but everything works out." I'm very grateful for the experiences i've had that remind me where I am in the world. Two years in my life will not be forever, so when things are difficult I just try to appreciate what this all is teaching me. So...African hospitality, some of the best i've ever had. Positive attitude a must.