Thursday, January 27, 2005

Girl Urinates on my Porch

Good Afternoon, Bon Soir, and Beum Beu Goré as they say here in Nanga Eboko. I have started taking Ewondo (local language) lessons for which Peace Corps will reimburse me. The lessons are given by neighbour, Achille. When I leave this country I will be QUADRILINGUAL. I can just imagine sitting through a job interview back in the states while the interviewer reads through my resumé:

“Oh, I see that you speak several languages. French, okay…Spanish, uh huh…wait! YOU SPEAK EWONDO!? Mr. Banick, this is great, we have been looking for an Ewondo speaker. Its such an important language in the world market. PLEASE accept our offer. How does 2 million per year sound?”

“Full benefits?”

“Of course, Mr. Banick, this is America.”

“6 months vacation per year?”

“Well, I don’t think that’s p-”

“Do you want an Ewondo speaker or not, buddy?”

“yes, um, agreed, 6 months vacation. So can we have you?”

“Ma di coupe. That means I eat chicken, in ewondo. And no, you cant have me, I cant stand working 6 months out of the year, that’s rediculous. Good bye NTANGEN (White man)”

Ah, what an interview that will be. Anyway, back to reality.

Yéyé, the little 3 year old who lives in the house behind mine came up to my door the other day. She was just standing on my porch, seemingly doing nothing, with a completely uninterested look on her face. When all of a sudden, she started to urinate on my door step. She’s just standing there, urinating, on my doorstep, like its nothing. I yell “Yéyé! Qu’est que tu fait? (what are you doing?)” She just stares at me, giving me this look like “what does it look like I’m doing white man? A little privacy please!” When she finished she just walked away, casually, like it was nothing. Does she pee on everyone’s doorstep? Is this a facet of Cameroonian Child Culture that I have yet to discover? No, according to her 5 brothers, she just pees where she wants to. So as I’m trying to clean it, my little cat (named black man) comes over to have a taste…just crazy I tell you, the things that can happen on my front porch. Luckily I removed Black Man (my cat) from the puddle before he got to drink it.

The gender of my cat (named Black Man) has been determined. White Man’s cat is indeed a male. Black Man is a male. Thanks for the gender determination tips GMA and GPA.

I know, you are still waiting for pictures. Here’s the deal: I have no AA batteries for Camera at the moment and the one’s they sell here are too weak to power it. I figure, since Blake will be here 2 weeks from today (WOOOHOOO, its about bloody time), and since he is a professional photographer with a full arsenal of high powered photographic weapons, I will let his pictures do the talking. He is going to take MANY MANY MANY pictures of our grand adventures all over Cameroon, and they will all be posted. You can count on that. Please trust me here. As long as Blake hasn’t screwed up his Visa Application, or lost his Yellow Fever Vaccination card, there should be no problems. Please, don’t screw anything up buddy, please.

What else. Oh, I’m getting really good at carrying buckets of water. Its becoming my daily workout. Trekking down the old dirt path to the water source. The best time to go is around 10 a.m. when kids are at school, otherwise the place is like Water world (the water park). Children everywhere, waiting in line to get water, bathing, cleaning, having water fights, staring at me. One of my buckets is labelled “Laundry” in black marker. I was at the water source the other day when I overheard a little girl tell her friend “see, the white man’s name is ‘Laundry’, its written right there on the bucket.” I had to clarify things for these confused little girls. I can handle being called ‘white man’ all the time, but I will not be known as ‘Laundry.’ That is unacceptable.

Since my house is on the dirt road that leads to the high school, I am treated to a parade of gawking high school students everyday around 3pm as they walk home from school. Some of them just stare at me. Some of them make comments about me which I can hear (Either they think I don’t understand French, I am deaf, or they just don’t care). I hear things like “look, the white man cleans his dishes.” Or “I hear the white man keeps his cat INSIDE the house, like a child.” Or, “who is this WHITE MAN?” Sometimes they just yell “BLANC!” or “WHITE.” I tend to ignore or just stare back at everyone, except for the yellers. I always talk to the yellers. They say “WHITE!” and I say “BLACK! Come over here for a minute.” They are usually a bit taken back by my demands, but they always end up coming over. I give them a little lecture about me having a name, that it isn’t White, or Blanc, just as their name isn’t ‘black’ or ‘noir.’ They listen with open ears, and they are usually very good about calling me Allen every time they see me thereafter. That is one of my Peace Corps projects, and it is quite a success.

My other projects involve cleaning my house (a never ending process, the second I finish, the dishes somehow get dirty again, dust builds up again, and all the stuff I put away has found its way back to where it shouldn’t be. I am a very messy neat freak. My house is either a disaster area or it is immaculate.) I also play a ton of SCRABBLE with my post mates Richard and Stan. We play SCRABBLE all over town, usually at a bar in the company of a cold beer. I also read a ton. There is a great library on the University Campus where I will be teaching that Richard is working on organizing. There is a whole selection of books in English and French, covering all subjects.

I am really enjoying myself in Nanga Eboko. I haven’t really started doing much ‘real peace corps work’ here, but I am quickly realizing that ‘real Peace Corps work’ is the stuff that isn’t ‘Real Peace Corps work.’ It really involves hanging out with the neighbours, knowing the culture, communicating, sharing ideas. People are getting to know me and my culture, and I am getting to know them and their culture. It’s a great exchange and I am learning a lot from it just as they are.

I have IST (In Service Training) week after next. I will be at a hotel for a week, and rumor has it, they will be showing the super bowl there, and there is a swimming pool. That will be FANTASTIC. Five days later, its HELLO BLAKE NOLAN. For the next month after that, it’s the craziest adventure ever embarked upon. You will read and see all about it.

PEACE

7 Comments:

At January 27, 2005 at 3:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Allways fun to think I AM THE FIRST TO READ ALS POST! Come on people, don't you check his blog twice a day? Get with it man!

Sorry about the pee, I remember you being about 3 and peeing in the corner of your room thinking no one would notice!

Get some friggin batteries, there are hundereds of them stuck somewhere in the Cameroon mail system.

Enjoy your IST, should be a good superbowl. The Pats are going to kick some Steeler ass!

 
At January 27, 2005 at 4:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

allen, i totally enjoy your posts. it's interesting to see the similarities across the "white person" experiences in cameroon. we've had a kid who peed on our floor all the time too, and her mother - who lived with and worked for us couldn't get it in her head that pee just doesn't soak into a cement floor. it might be okay in a dirt floor situation - but not on cement.

what a trip.

writing from lomié,
gwinn
www dot smallpower dot org slash log

 
At January 28, 2005 at 12:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We enjoyed reading your latest entry. Glad to see your humor has returned in force! So, your cat is a male. That is good as it may be hard to find a vet to spay or neuter in your village. As for batteries... we sent you some in the mail and if you don't get them soon they will have expired on the docks. Looking forward to hearing of your adventures with Blake. Enjoy the visit.

Love,
Grandma and Grandpa B

 
At January 29, 2005 at 4:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bienvenue au club des ménagères!
Et pour continuer avec les enfants et la propreté : on m'a raconté l'histoire d'une petite fille (la fille de ma cousine) qui était au restaurant avec sa famille. Je crois qu'elle avait environ 3/4 ans au moment des faits. Elle se lève dignement de table et sort du restaurant et là, juste à l'entrée du resto, elle s'accroupit et fait...caca! Alors tu vois à quoi tu as échappé, tu as eu de la chance!
Conclusion: je crois qu'il s'agit d'une culture enfantine plutôt que camerounaise...
Allez amuse-toi bien, petite fée du logis...

Isabelle

 
At February 2, 2005 at 2:47 PM, Blogger Mike Scott said...

big up allen, bo bo.

still with ya,

-Mike

 
At February 3, 2005 at 1:19 PM, Blogger Blake J. Nolan said...

A to the BAY

How goes it my friend. I can happily say that after nearly fudgeing up my visa, I got the bad boy. OH YEA BABY. BLANO IS ON HIS WAY TO THE ARMPIT! I make a promise, and I follow through. Take note. :-) So, I guess all there is to do now is wait. Here goes nothing.


B

 
At February 8, 2005 at 2:03 PM, Blogger Jera said...

abay, i finally caught up on some reading. it goes without saying that i miss you but it's good to hear you are still having the experience of a lifetime (and not letting your whiteness get you down). you and blake will have to give eachother big kisses for me because i wish i was there for all the amazing adventures. i promise i will blog more often, until next time: i love you
j-lay

 

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