Saturday, December 04, 2004

finally a moment of peace

Its been a very very long time. Even since I teased everyone with my last entry.

Let me explain myself because I can. Actually, we'll just start this off at the beginning. Rewind back to Thursday, November 18th 2004. This is where is all began.

I was in Bafoussam, feeling sick as I had been for the past month. Sore throat, coughing, sneezing, itchy eyes, typical allergy symptoms. This is really nothing to complain about, but since it had been a month straight of constant fatigue and overall feeling like crap, and since the doctor in Bafoussam didnt do anything helpful, I decided to take a trip down to Yaounde to see the peace corps doctor here.

On the long bush taxi rides, one has plenty of time to think, especially when there isn't anyone trying to sell you herbal miracle cure all medecine. As the man seated next to me started to nod off and rest his head on my shoulder (acceptable here, in fact you cant really get away from it), about an hour into the trip, I started to realize some things. I realized that I was getting very tired of Bafoussam, very quickly. I realized that I didn't come to the Peace Corps to play tennis which is what I was doing 5 times a week. I realized how happy I was everytime I got to leave Bafoussam to spend time in a village. I realized how much I like the peace and quiet and clean air as opposed to the constant rumble of diesel engines and all the wonderful smells they create. I realized I really hate sitting in an office without any real purpose. I realized there is no use wasting my time here if I am the least bit unhappy. I realized that I really like Cameroon, the people, and my potential contribution to development here. I realized I wanted a change of scenery. I only get this one opportunity in my life to really live a rural african lifestyle, so why not take advantage of it. Quite frankly, when you remove all the awkward scenery, life in bafoussam wasnt much different than life in any american city (granted its actually very different, but playing tennis and surfing the internet can be done in any american city).

When I arrived in yaounde, I spoke to my program director who was very supportive of my decision and he said he would begin to search for a new post for me. He said it wouldnt take longer than a few weeks to get this thing done. I also visited the peace corps doctor while in town, she gave me claritin and my allergies dissappeared. All of a sudden I was feeling great, full of hope and optimistic, free of allergies.

Now it's Saturday November 20th. I decided to visit my friend jen before heading back to post in Bafoussam. Jen doesnt live far from Yaounde and her village is especially small and remote. What was supposed to be a 1 day visit, turned into a 5 day visit. I had a great time experiencing more of "the simple life." Many things happened in this village while I was there. I met a bunch of cute little kids who love candy. I gave them lots of candy which is bad for Jen because they now expect a bunch of candy for doing nothing. she usually makes them fetch water from the well to earn the candy. I also attended a few of the classes she teaches, as she is a TEFL volunteer (english teacher). I had a great time in the classes and the experience made me want to try out teaching for myself (the pieces are all coming together). She let me teach one of her classes. I had no lesson plan, so I resorted to teaching the (clean) lyrics to "Ain't nothin' but a G thang" by snoop dogg and dr. dre.

1 2 3 and to the 4
snoop doggy dogg and dr dre.
is at the door
ready to make an entrance
so back on up

It went over pretty well. By the end of class I had all 25 students standing, rapping, and waving their arms like they just dont care. I asked myself "what in the hell am I doing working in a bank?" I realized my calling in the world.

Another thing happened at jen's. A baby was born. My first son. Yeah, a lot can happen in a week. Jen is very close to the baby's parents (she's close to everyone in the village for that matter), and they wanted to name the baby after her. Unfortunately the baby turned out to be a boy. Since I happened to be with Jen when we walked into the house to visit the newborn baby, they decided it was only right to name him after me. Allen Jean something something is a healthy little newborn and I am proud to be his "godfather." the scary part is that the whole family thinks that I am going to take this kid back to the states and provide for him. I have some explaining to do upon my return to that village! I did offer him diapers, a little sweater, and some other baby stuff that jen picked out. I cant wait to teach him how to play baseball and take him fishing and camping and stuff...

Okay, time is running low...
After all that I went to this town called Nanga Eboko for Thanksgiving. A bunch of volunteers got together there and we had a wonderful TURKEY dinner (slaughtered the day before by our friends). I also spoke to a fellow volunteer who is posted in this small town who happened to be moving to a new town for various reasons. I saw her soon to be vacant house in the quaint quiet vollage, and I fell in love with the place. It is such a change from dirty smelly bafoussam. The town is small and reminiscent of the wild west, dusty, run down, saloons, you name it. I live in a little neighborhood with many children and a well where I fetch water (or send kids to fetch water). I love the place and I love the peace and quiet, this is the peace corps I expected. The trip to Nanga from Yaounde, the capital takes four hours. It is done in VERY OLD BEAT UP 4x4 mini buses, it is completely unpaved, the buses break down EVERY TIME (a tire blew out on my last trip). Needless to say, getting there is a pain in the arse, but it is well worth the struggle.

So I have been there a week now. I still have cellphone service (so you can call me) and there is an internet connection at the university where two of my fellow volunteers are working. I should be able to keep updating this blog at least every two weeks (not as frequently as in Bafoussam where I was surrounded by internet cafes). I wont be able to play tennis anymore :( But I wont risk my life everyday getting hit by cars :) You win some you lose some, but in this case I win more than I lose.

I will take pictures, I will post them, I will write more about my post, I promise. For now, I can tease you with this one picture of my new house.

Time is out,
gotta run. Thanks for your patience this time, I know its been forever!

A bientot!


At December 10, 2004 at 11:14 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Al,

Your new post sounds more like what we expected you to be doing in Africa. The new house is small but cute. Did you have to forfeit hot running water? Is your mailing address still the same? We will eagerly await more photos. I will send you a private e-mail in the next few days.

Love you lots,
Granny B

At December 13, 2004 at 5:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Al, glad to see you got the new post. Sounds like a great place and somewhere more "african". Say hi to my new godgrandson, he makes me feel old.

Allen, Isabelle and Samuel writing to you from the Golden Princess internet cafee somewhere between Martinique and Barbados on the Carribean sea.

PS, your litlle smart ass brother beat me fair and square in chess today and is bragging to the world about it!

Only 6 more cruise days left, we are feeling depressed!


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